Yesterday, the 73rd Annual New Year School (NYS) opened at the University of Ghana, Legon, Accra, one-and-a-half months after its launch at the same venue on December 13, last year.
The three-day event, organised by the Institute of Distance Education, University of Ghana and the Ministry of Finance, and ending tomorrow, is on the theme 'COVID-19, Socio-economic dynamics in Ghana'.
The NYS is a platform annually provided by the university for dispassionate discussion of issues of national concern, especially those that demand urgent address such as youth unemployment and health matters as it is the case today in the country.
Abstracts are taken from the speakers long before the commencement of the event and the deadline for this year's was November 30, last year.
It is attended by persons from academia, industry and public and civil service, who can be described as movers and shakers of the country's economy.
Sticking to an angle of the theme at the opening of the school, President Nana AddoDankwaAkufo-Addo said the sound economic foundation laid by his administration from 2017 to 2020 had significantly reduced the impact of the COVID-19 on the country's economy.
He, for instance, pointed out that when the global food security situation was threatened by the pandemic, with many economies shutting down exports and essential food items seized, Ghana's economy remained largely self-sufficient.
The President made reference to interventions such as the GHc1.1 billion health response package used to procure healthcare supplies and equipment; a relief package for health workers; GHC1.6 billion support package for vulnerable households across the country; GH750 million support package micro, small, and medium-size businesses; and GH750 million support package given to micro, small, and medium-size businesses; recruitment of 24,285 health professionals; and GHc1.9 billion spent on the educational sector to prevent the spread of the pandemic in schools.
Clearly, the President has said what has happened, which is incontestable and deserves commendation.
What the whole nation wishes to hear from the experts at the school should be actions that can further be taken to contain the spread of COVID-19 and its devastation of livelihoods to ameliorate its impacts and ensure better living for the people.
Therefore, certainly, the theme, 'COVID-19, Socio-economic dynamics in Ghana', needs in-depth analyses that emphasise all the dynamics and the required or mitigating actions.
Currently, the Ghanaian citizenry does not adhere to the COVID-19 safety measures all because of some misinformation or mere obstinacy. What should the solution?
The kind of seriousness the government applied to checking adherence to the safety measures has died down. Is that the best way to go?
What can the state do about the human rights twist being hyped by others, which is actually undermining efforts in making the populace embrace the safety measures, including vaccination?
There are also talks here and there that some people are profiting from the outbreak of the pandemic in the country through procurement of essentials and securing other relevant facilities, as well as siphoning of monies from funds meant for activities geared towards the containment of the disease.
Some of the dynamics like working from home are positive, which should prompt the government and other stakeholders to develop the infrastructure for that practice.
Certain jobs can definitely be done from a distance using technology and COVID-19 has come to emphasise that.
Working from such distance as the home can save both organisations and their employees some significant costs.
The Ghanaian Times encourages the participants in this year's New Year School to think outside the box and come up not only with ideas to contain COVID-19 and obviously its negative impacts but also solutions to other health and socio-economic problems.