Friday, May 31, 2013

As a follow-up to collaborative workshops organised on the 2013 Budget Statement by the Ministry of Finance and the Information Services Department (ISD) for Regional and District Information Officers in Accra for the southern zone and in Kumasi for the northern zone, all Deputy Directors were assigned to specific regions to monitor the Radio Discussion Programmes as well as the Limited Cinema Operations where necessary.
In Volta Region, Mr. Wellington Gidisu the Regional Information Officer drew up a comprehensive Radio/FM Discussion programmes covering eight (8) most prominent radio stations in the Region where air time were paid for the public education purposes.
The FM Radio stations included 1. Volta Star –GBC – 91.1.FM Ho; 2.Tongu Radio 92.1 FM Sogakope; 3. Kakeo Radio 107.3 FM Akatsi; 4. Holy FM 98.5 FM Aflao; 5.Hogbe FM 106.5 FM Anloga; 6.Lorlornyo FM 93.3 FM Hohoe; 7. Heritage FM 107.3 FM Hohoe and Beyond FM 90.7 FM Nkwata.
All radio discussion programmes were undertaken by a three-member panelists headed by the Municipal and District Officers constituted by the Regional Information Officer. Where possible phone-in-segments were introduced to allow listeners to ask questions or make contributions to the programme. But experience has shown that due to some technical hitches phone-in-segments could not be effected.
Krachi-District was the only remote area where Limited Cinema Operation was organised for the public education campaign on 2013 budget. Audience research proved that FM coverage in this District would not be effective thus the need to deploy the ISD Cinema Vans for effective campaign in the language of the people at the grassroots level.
Some of the towns and villages covered by the Cinema Operation included Tancu, Yaborap, Gyaesayor, Kpacsu and Yyne Krom.
3.1 DAY ONE:
On Friday, May 24 2013, between the hours of 8am- 8:30 in the morning, under the supervision of the Regional Information Officer, Mr. Willingtong Gidisu, the Ho Municipal Information Officer Mr. Steven Dzubi and the South Dayi District Information Officer, Mr. Dominic Boachie participated in the Volta Star Radio programme.
Following the briefing and guide prepared for ISD staff by the Ministry of Finance, listeners were informed that  the 2013 Budget Statement which was presented to Parliament on Tuesday, 5th March 2013 by the Hon. Minister for Finance Mr. Set Tekper. That the theme for this year’s Budget Statement was: “Sustaining Confidence In The Future of the Ghanaian Economy.”
3.2 Four Thematic Areas of the Budget
The panelists explained to the listeners that the 2013 Budget Statement covered four thematic areas underpinning the Nation’s development programme which were:
1.      People First
2.      Strong and Resilient Economy
3.      Expanding Infrastructure and
4.      Transparent and Accountable Governance
On that day, because the time allotted was 30mn, panelists concentrated on PILLAR ONE for maximum impact. It was explained that Government believed that human capital or the people constituted the nation’s most treasured asset. That it was the people that form the fulcrum or pivot around which revolved Government’s socio-cultural and economic development agenda.
That in the Pillar One of the 2013 Budget Statement, Government  accords priority   premium on education, health care, social security as well as the protection for the vulnerable women, children, the aged, and the people with disabilities.
The main programme under which the discussion took place was “Good morning Volta in Ewe.”
The host of the programme was Torgbe Kodzo Akwensi. The host introduced some humour into the programme which made everybody in the studio and many listeners; it was believed, burst into uncontrollable laughter.
The joke was that before the programme took off, the host introduced his panelists and mentioned on air that one Deputy Director of ISD had traveled all the way from the headquarters in Accra to monitor how the radio public education campaign was being conducted in the Region. Then he mentioned my name – Mawutodzi Abissath.
I was not billed to speak though, however, when he was about to sign off the programme, the host suddenly pushed the microphone towards me and prompted me to say something to the people of the Volta Region. Because I was not aware that I was going to speak and the fact that programme was being aired  in Ewe, I started struggling for appropriate Ewe vocabulary for economic terms like ‘Pillar One” ‘Resilient Economy” “Expanding Infrastructure” and “Accountable Governance” etc.  And this made everybody burst into laughter including myself. It was very interesting indeed, as a virtually dried programme ended on a very pleasant humorous note.
On Saturday, May 25 2013 the public education continued on Volta Star Radio GBC 91.1FM from 9:05 am and last for about one hour. This time round the panel was further enriched by the presence of the Member of Parliament for Ho Central Constituency Hon. Benjamin Kpodo. He was, as usual supported by  Ho Municipal Information Officer Mr. Dzubi and the South Dayi DIO Mr. Boachie. The veteran Kwami Senyo, Head of Ewe Section of the Volt Star Radio hosted the programme.
3.5.  Overview of the Budge
The host Mr. Senyo set the ball rolling by tasking the MP Hon. Kpodo to give listeners a global over view of the 2013 Budget. Hon. Kpodo, who is an account by training, did justice to the subject matter. He enlightened the public about how the Budget was presented by the Finance Minister to Parliament and the MPs scrutinized and dissected the budget statement through heated debates on the floor the House.
3.6 Pillar Two: A Strong and Resilient Economy
The panelists focused on the   economy of the country over the period of more than two decades. The public was informed that Ghana consistently witnessed a positive economic growth rate which culminated in the attainment of lower middle income status. It was further underscored that the country equally maintained its ranking among ten (10) fastest growing economies in the world.
Various elements of the national economy such as “macro-economic stability,” in that inflation moved from double digits to single digit and remained there for over 30 months. Another point was made that the country’s foreign reserves had been increased from about $2billion at the beginning of 2009 to $5.5billion currently.
In terms of the performance of the economy in 2012, it was explained to listeners that the budget for that fiscal year indicated that total revenue and grants were below the budget target. This meant that the country experienced ‘an overall fiscal deficit equivalent to 12.0 percent of GDP against a target equivalent to 6.7 percent of GDP.’
Nevertheless, it was also indicated that the economy recorded 8.8% in 2012 and continued with single digit inflation for more than two years.
In short, the day’s radio discussion spearheaded by Hon. Kpodo digested the budget to the people of the Volta Region through the Good-morning Volta programme in Ewe in a most comprehensive fashion. My only regret was that, again, due to technical hitches, phone-in-segment initiated by the host could not go through. As much as some listeners tried to phone in, their calls could not go through.
It is my considered view that this innovative way of using the numerous FM and Community Radio stations platform by RIOs, MIOs and DIOs in various regions and districts   to embark on public education campaigns on Annual Budget Statements is progressive and cost effective. Its outreach in terms of mass communication strategy for the dissemination of government information to a large audiences at ago cannot be over-emphasized.
However, the radio discussion programmes should not entirely replace the traditional ISD Cinema Van operations in deprived rural communities. For it is an open secret that some people in rural zones cannot even afford to buy radio or television sets to tune in to vital national discussion programmes. But these deprived rural dwellers also have the right  to be informed about Government programmes and policies.
1.      The Ministry of Finance must consider making enough funds available to ISD that can cater for both methodologies and strategies, that is, Radio discussions and Cinema Van Operations platforms for public education campaigns must go hand in hand. This will enable Government to receive comprehensive feedback from all manner of citizens on all issues of national interest at the same time.
2.      One reason why listeners of Volta Star Radio could not interact with studio panelists was due to obsolete equipment which being used in their studios. And since GBC Regional Radio stations have wider coverage, it is suggested that Government must consider providing with modern equipment to play effective public service broadcasting role for the benefit of the nation.
The two-day Radio Discussion Programme was conducted under the supervision of Mr. Kafui Kumaga who is the Manager Volta Star Radio at Ho in the Volta Region.   
Presented by:
DATE: 28TH MAY 2013

Mr. Willingtong Gidisu, Regional Information Officer
(third from right) and team members prepare to go on air 
Torgbe Kodzo Akwensi host of Good-morning Volta in Ewe
ready in the studio on May 24, 2013
Mr. Steven Dzubi Ho Municipal Information Officer
a panelist on the programme  in the studio 
Mr. Dominic Boachie South Dayi Information Officer
also a panelist in the programme in the studio
Mr. Kafui Kumaga Manager of Radio Volta Star, Ho
Hon. Benjamin Kpodo in suit, MP for Ho Central being welcome by
Regional Information Officers at the premises of Volta
 Star to participate in the programme on Saturday, May 25, 2013 
Mr. Kwami Senyo, veteran broadcaster and Head of Ewe
Section at the Volta Star hosting the programme on May 25
Hon. Kpodo making reference to facts and figures
 in his presentation to the programme in the studio
Mr. Dzubi and Mr Boachie contributing to discussion in the
studio on May 25

Mr. Noble Ahadzi Chief Driver Regional 
Information Services Department Ho, VR