Last week, the NPP government marked its first year in office and the President, H.E. Nana Akufo-Addo highlighted the major feats of his administration via a media encounter and conspicuously missing from his keynote address, was a mention on tourism and the arts.
The President did not make mention of any tangible feat in the tourism and arts sector simply because there was nothing to say; there were no achievements – zilch!
There’s been much banter on the inability of the representatives for the Creative industry to prod the President during the media encounter last week, but, thinking about it, the President would not have had any meaningful answer (s) to give had questions on tourism and arts been asked.
After a year, there’s nothing to show for in this sector, and that’s pathetic – considering the commitments that were made in the NPP Manifesto for Elections 2016 and the Budget for 2017. It is also laughable what the government called achievements under its first 100 days in office.
22 Manifesto Promises, 0 Achieved
A staggering number of 22 commitments were made to the tourism, arts and culture sectors in the NPP Manifesto, a published declaration of the party’s intention or plans when it assumes power.
10 promises were made to Tourism, 4 to Culture and 8 to Creative Arts – and thus far in a year, none of these promises has been fulfilled. Prominent among the 10 assurances made to the Tourism field were these;
- Aggressively develop our tourist sites to bring them to world-class standards, complete with the requisite amenities and facilities
- Transform the Ghana Tourist Authority into a modern, efficient research and marketing institution with the necessary technical resources and funds to help project the image of Ghana as a globally-recognized tourism brand.
What is interesting is the use of the word, ‘Aggressively’ in the said development of our tourist sites. Guess what, they have been lackadaisical in doing nothing!
The Ghana Tourism Authority indeed, did something to project the image of Ghana as a globally-recognized tourism brand by organizing the ‘Jollof’ Festival. Impressive!
Under Culture, the party promised to;
- Give the Arts and Culture Industry the requisite attention and incentives to flourish and to also create jobs and wealth for our people. The Culture Policy, developed and adopted under the Kufuor government, will be reviewed and actively implemented to give our culture pride of place in our national development.
Well, after a year, the Cultural Policy has not been reviewed and all the grand provisions in document are not being implemented.
- We will build a detailed inventory of all our cultural assets, so the nation has a database of these assets. This inventory will include all of Ghana’s tangible assets, like the Larabanga mosque, and intangible cultural assets like rites of passage and values and belief systems, which are in danger of disappearing completely with aging traditional custodians.
The Minister is even confused on which body or individual to build a database of stakeholders, not to talk about assets.
Under Creative Arts, the NPP recognized that the sector has the potential to contribute greatly to GDP growth and As such, it would focus on supporting the sector to enable it realize its full potential for generating wealth for its practitioners, create jobs and grow the economy.
After a year, not even one of the 9 modern, large seating theaters promised for 9 regional capitals aside Accra, has been initiated.
2017 Budget Statement
In the Budget, 11 statements were made concerning the Tourism, Arts & Culture Ministry (429 – 439) and while some of the proclamations were continuation of efforts by previous administrations, like the Marine Drive Project, the Paragliding Festivals etc. – others, which were supposed to be ‘new’ directives, are yet to be fulfilled.
- In 2017, the Ministry will establish the Creative Arts Council to facilitate the organization of cultural exchange programmes for cultural entrepreneurs and creative artistes overseas. It will also partner the private sector to rehabilitate the Dubois Centre as a hub for Pan-Africanism.
Clearly, every concerned observer or stakeholder within the Arts knows the kind of shoddy work that is being executed with regards to the Creative Arts Council.
- In 2017, the Ministry will develop standards for new tourism enterprises such as; conference centers, spas, parks, health farms, off-shore catering establishments, tour guides and tourist attractions.
We are in 2018, we are still waiting for the standards from all the outfits directly under the Tourism sector; The Ghana Tourism Authority or the Ghana Tourist Development Company, Ghana Tourism Federation and any other.
- The Ghana Tourism Authority will be resourced to step-up supervision, inspection, extension services and licensing of over 5,000 tourism enterprises.
After a year, Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA) is yet to publicly declare how many tourism enterprises it licensed.
- The Efua Sutherland Park will also be developed into an ultra-modern world class Park through a PPP arrangement.
The popular park, after a year, is as dreary as the promise that was made to give it a face-lift!
100 Days in Office Feats
In April 2017, the Vice President, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia disclosed how the Akufo-Addo administration delivered on 103 of its campaign promises since taking office some 100 days ago and under Tourism, Arts & Culture – 3 achievements were mentioned;
- Established a Safety Audit Unit at the Ghana Tourism Authority to conduct safety audits across tourist sites. 2. Established the Creative Arts Council and 3. Launched the Presidential Museum at the Christiansborg Castle.
After the Kintampo Waterfall disaster, a Safety Audit Unit was said to have been established yet, Ghanaians are yet to see the Safety Audit Assessment of that unfortunate accident that occurred last year.
The Creative Arts Council has not been established especially when there’s no law backing it, making it an exercise in futility. What we have, is a 3-member team that is supposed to spearhead its formation. That cannot be classified as an achievement.
The launch of the Presidential Museum can also not be tagged as an achievement. Organizing a fun-fair to announce an intention does not make it an achievement.
Provide Proof of Achievement If Any
Some folks at the Ministry including the Minister have started calling some of us names and cladding us in some political party colours, just because we, in the last couple of weeks, have been placing the Ministry under scrutiny.
You can’t occupy such a high office and insulate yourself from criticism and cynicism. It comes with the job, so, if you cannot tolerate the heat, get out of the kitchen.
We may be blabbing for nothing, so, we dare the Minister and the Ministry of Tourism, Arts & Culture to provide concrete evidence of what they have achieved in the one year of assuming office.
Arnold Asamoah-Baidoo, www.entertainmentgh.com