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Feature Article of Sunday, 2 December 2012

Columnist: Lomotey, Kenneth

Before You Vote, Think About These Issues

With just less than a week away from the dec 7th general elections, I have been assessing the track record of the two leading parties ,i.e the NPP and the NDC and have rather come to the apt conclusion that the NPP is a better party, which should be the choice of any undecided voter at this late stage and some of my reasons have been stipulated below.

1.THE NPP RAISING MORE THAN USD 8 BILLION DOLLARS FROM DEBT WRITE-OFF IN 2004 AND 2005 FOR THE .GHANAIAN ECONOMY.

In 2002, owing to the dire economic situation, the NPP had inherited from the NDC(and that time, oil had not been found, like how the ndc inherited an oil economy in 2009),the then govt headed by President Kuffuor accessed the hipc decision point, which formally usherred Ghana into the hipc program. At that time, the NDC were vociferous in screaming their objections to the hipc program, citing reasons like that Ghana would appear as a broke nation and and that would scare off potential investors, and that essentially the hipc program would bring us nothing but shame and that even worse poverty would befall the nation.

President Kuffuor being the wise leader he was, he prevailed over these negative NDC noises and by july of 2012( within just 2 years of embarking on the hipc program ), Ghana reached the hipc completion point,and with that came an unprecedented national debt write - off of over usd 5 billion. Again at the G8 summit in the spring of 2005, in Gleanagles in Scotland, Ghana under President Kuffuor was able to benefit from over 3 billion usd from a multi lateral debt write- off deal.

The combined effect of this monumental debt write off is that, Ghana was saved from having to raise hard foreign exchange to pay off these maturing debts that spanned over 25 years, and that the repayment monies otherwise kept by Ghana could be used to finance education, health and other poverty related expenditures in the country.These were collossal amounts that would have had to be paid by our children and perhaps their children as well. Infact any doubting thomas can request for repayments through govt account no. 5(Govt External Debt Sevice Account) before 2005 and he will be amazed at the volumes of money that the country vomitted to service the suffocating loans on the country, which essentially also stifled the domestic economy. I am surprised the NPP is not making political capital out of this.This 8 billion usd gift(so to speak) by the NPP to Ghana is one of the most significnt windfalls Ghana has had since independence, and i have conducted my reseach on this issue and in terms of its impact on the economy, this 8 billion usd gift comes only second to the next transformational pillar on the Ghanaian economy which is oil (which again , not by an accident) was found by the NPP in 2007.

By President Kuffuor's stroke of genius, the NPP made Ghana 8 billion dollars richer ( money which was free of charge and Ghanaians did not have to pay back,, like the chinese facility the NDC govt is trying to secure from China, which is not a concessional loan because we shall have to start paying back in a couple of years from now).At this point, the question to ask is which NDC achievement could remotely even come close?

The other thing with the NDC is their penchant for half truths and double standards. Even with the hipc, upon all the potestations they made to frustrate the program, they have come around rather shamelessly later on to enjoy the fruits of hipc.For example, if you go through the budget statements for 2009, 2010 and 2011, you will find that a huge portion of financing for the pet programs of free textbooks and free uniforms under the present NDC administration were sourced from the hipc fund. you can check it now.

Again when the Kuffuor govt secured the usd 541 million millenium challenge account grant( free of charge not a loan), some NDC parliamentarians, notably hon Doe Adjaho,hon Azumah (Garu tempane mp) and hon.Joe Gidisu were most skeptical, yet the tetteh quashie mallam road, for example, is now enjoyed by all Ghanaian motorists, including the NDC folks who opposed the initiative.

Also in 2003, when as a result of visionary leadership, President Kuffuor co- sponsored the west africa gas pipeline project which was to help Ghana diversify it's energy sources as well as reducing it's energy requirement costs, the NDC again poured cold water on the idea..,to the extent of almost blocking a loan deal President Kuffuor arranged from President Obasanjo of Nigeria to lend Ghana 40million usd as Ghana's start up contribution to the project. Now we see how the west africa gasline project gas has become so vital to the energy delivery in Ghana,such that a shortfall in supply can have national ramifications such as the load shedding the country has been experiencing for the last two months.

So you can contrast how the NDC fought the introduction of the west africa gas project with how the present NDC govt's energy delivery is anchored on it. That is why i take the NDC's criticism of the NPP's FREE SHS program with a pinch of salt, because eventually the NDC may even come around to embrace it.

2.THE DISCOVERY OF COMMERCIAL OIL IN 2007 DURING THE NPP'S TENURE

.As i noted elsewhere in this article, the greatest factor that will impact our economy yet, is the oil resource found by the NPP in 2007, and it is a monumental credit to the NPP that Ghana which previously had been labelled as an oil and gas graveyard could find commercial oil under the kuffuor regime. The painstaking efforts of the NPP, particularly President Kuffuor in finding this gamechanger resource is very remarkable and that will be the subject of my next article. How the NPP found the oil and how earlier on, the NDC through Tsatsu Tsikata at GNPC wasted our resources in the wilderness and invested in ultra vires domains like citrus plantations, will all be unfolded in the next piece.

Therefore, in the final analysis, the difference between the NDC and the NPP is that basically the NPP creates real wealth for the country whilst the NDC largely borrows to spend mainly on political and propanda initiatives. NPP does very little propaganda while the NDCmakes noise and propaganda on the flimsiest of achievements. It is true the NDC in office, have done some projects, but with so much oil money, and the ability to borrow money on the back of oil money, which govt can not do projects. But even here there is NDC failure; the massive corruption arising out of 10% kickbacks and sole sourcing on almost all the govt ,contracts from 2009 to date, heavily inflated contract figures , bogus judgement debts and shady oil deals (IMANI ghana) among others, make me less impressed with the govt's performance

On 7th dec, Ghanaians will have to make a choice between two main parties in Ghana.... the NPP which makes 8 billion dollars for Ghana but does not talk about it and the NDC govt which draws from the hipc fund (itself created by the NPP) to finance free texbooks and uniforms even on a selective basis and then proclaim this feat on '' rooftops''.

There is a proverb which says that empty barrels make the most noise(propaganda)...so .if you really think about Ghana 's future and you want the best for your child, think about some of these issues before you vote.

Kenneth Lomotey

Sekondi, Western region

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