News Column

Ghanaians Suffer in Silence

June 30, 2014

"Even the Volta Region, generally referred to as the World Bank of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC), is in turmoil. A demonstration, fixed for last Wednesday, was only averted by the last minute intervention of Togbe Afede XVI, Agbogbomefia of the Asogli Traditional Area, who is reported to have begged his people to exercise patience."

The long queues tell their own story. Petrol is in short supply. And we are supposed to be an oil producing country. In a country seeking to improve on our education standards, the news from the classroom is that there are no chalk, no note books, attendance registers are in short supply, and no continuous assessment cards. Electricity is still supplied in tots.

The other day, someone described the ECG (Electricity Company of Ghana) as Either Candle or Generator. We are in a very close contest with Nigeria for the title of West Africa's most mismanaged economy. Make no mistake. These are no rumours being churned out from Kedjetia, where, in the words of Mr. John Dramani Mahama, Head of State of this Republic, the dance of the fowl fails to impress the hawk.

Someone remarked the other day that if the drum beat is Adowa, and the fowl takes to the floor in Agbedza or Damba steps, the hawk is not going to be impressed. On the evidence of what is happening to our country and its people, we are all dancing to the wrong tune in Mahama's Ghana. On Monday, Deputy Minister of Education Alex Kyeremeh answered questions on the floor of Parliament on behalf of his Minister, and told the Honourable Members that as a result of a peculiar problem with late submission and approval of the 2013 Budget, the Ministry has been unable to supply chalk, teachers' note books, assessment cards, and every other item that make it possible for the teacher to impart knowledge to school kids in this country.

"The late acquisition of [the] commencement certificate from the Ministry of Finance delayed the procurement process for chalk, teachers' note books, and attendance register, hence the late deliveries," Mr. Kyeremeh told bemused Members of the House of Parliament. Obviously, Mr. Kyeremeh did not tell the whole truth. Apart from lack of these teaching aids, there is the small matter of teacher salaries, some of which are in arrears for close to two years. This administration has failed to deliver on all fronts.

Yesterday, Ghanaians woke up to the news that two leading members of the Black Stars - midfield dynamo Sulley Muntari and striker Kelvin Prince Boateng - have been expelled from camp in Brazil for acts of indiscipline. The dismissals stem from events that led to $3 million of state money being airlifted by a charted plane to Brazil to pay for the appearance fees of Ghanaians players on World Cup duty, some would say, and their officials. I do not intend to bore readers, for I will re-visit this issue in detail once the Black Stars had finished with their duties in Brazil and are back home.

In the interim, it is important to note that the issue arose because players and their officials do not seem to believe in government officials doing the right thing, once the World Cup is over. The trust level is rather on the low side. The Mahama regime has contrived to destroy everything that stands in the name of building a society able to support its citizens. The local currency, the cedi has plummeted to such a ridiculously low level that it is a disincentive to save.

From GH¢1.18 to the dollar, handed over to the ruling National Democratic Congress in January 2009, the dollar has crossed the three cedi mark, and still falling.

On Monday, the Ghana Union of Traders Association, the umbrella body catering for small scale retailers in the country, called a strike action and ordered all shops to close. According to Mr. George Ofori, President of GUTA, the rapid fall in the value of the cedi was making it impossible for local traders to remain competitive against foreign invasion. He also cited the imposition of a number of taxes as a disincentive to trade in Ghana.

"The unfair and unjust government policies, coupled with the inability of state institutions to effectively monitor and enforce compliance with the law governing doing business in Ghana, are terribly affecting our businesses in the country," Mr. Ofori explained. Life in this country is becoming unbearable. The economy is gone to the dogs. Minister of Finance and Economic Planning Seth Terkper and his technocrats are simply incapable of rescuing this nation.

The man directing the state treasury believes the Single Spine Salary Structure is weighing down on the economy, and mainly responsible for the economic hardship in Ghana. The plain truth is that this economy has been mismanaged. Two weeks ago, Fitch, the London-based leading credit rating entity, issued a red alert on this nation's economy. In simple terms, we are back to HIPC (Highly Indebted Poor Country) initiative.

"Huge borrowings and steep depreciation of the cedi will see debts jump to 61 percent of GDP (Gross Domestic Product) by the end of 2014, from 58.2 percent, as at the end of 2013," Fitch warned in a report released in London. Government has tried to paper the cracks with an announcement that Fitch got the figures wrong. Up to now, however, no government official has been able to release figures to debunk the assertion from Britain. Meanwhile, agitation is building up at the centre of the earth.

A day before the story on the Fitch warning hit the news-stands, hundreds of thousands of protesters had taken to the streets in Kumasi in protest against the way Kumasi and the Ashanti Region have been sidelined in national development. The protesters were seriously concerned about the state of the economy, which, in their opinion, was making it impossible for Ghanaians to eke out a meaningful life.

Dr. Matthew Opoku Prempeh, Member of Parliament (MP) for Manhyia, told newsmen that they were on the streets to bring it home to the government that Ghanaians would no longer accept the concept of business as usual, while the economy was collapsing. He said the people of this country were tired of the poor economic management of the country, which was crippling businesses, leading to loss of jobs and escalating increases in prices of goods and services.

The Manhyia MP cited reckless spending on the part of the Mahama administration, in the form of payment of huge judgment debts, and the activities of the 'looting brigade' state officials and party apparatchiks appropriating state resources to themselves and their cronies, in what Mr. Justice Jones Dotse, sitting at the Supreme Court, described as "create, loot and share," as some of the reasons why the Ghanaian has no cover in the economic war.

Even the Volta Region, generally referred to as the World Bank of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC), is in turmoil. A demonstration, fixed for last Wednesday, was only averted by the last minute intervention of Togbe Afede XVI, Agbogbomefia of the Asogli Traditional Area, who is reported to have begged his people to exercise patience.

Chiefs in Ghana are mandated by the law of the land not to dabble in politics. It appears, though, that the traditional head of the Asogli State has his own way of going around the stated position of the law. Ghana and its people though, are not sitting pretty. The tragedy of this country is that everybody is looking on while the nation burns. Are there no men with balls to push Mahama and his moribund administration to do the right thing?

It is a pity!

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Source: AllAfrica

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