thoughts of a native
THE STX DEAL: A PERFECT ILLUSTRATION OF THE LACK OF CREATIVITY AMONGST GHANA’S TOP CIVIL SERVANTS’?
One hopes that should it be the case that the Supreme Court of Ghana eventually unravels the STX deal, those now in charge of our nation will see it as an opportunity, to enable them strike a new and better deal to house the security agencies and public servants nationwide – by negotiating directly with the government of Korea. It makes perfect sense for the government of an oil-rich Ghana to ask the Korean government to lend Ghana money directly to fund the proposed project. We should not allow our country to be saddled with a loan made possible by STX: no matter how generous the terms of any such loan might appear to be on paper. Since it is the Korean government that will be providing such a loan from its KITMC Global Infrastructure Fund, would it not make sense to share the project work (in all Ghana's ten regions!) amongst the ten best-resourced of Korea’s leading construction firms: who must be made by law to partner Ghana’s ten best-resourced real estate companies (in terms of their financial standing!), so that the work will be done by Korean-Ghanaian joint-ventures nationwide? It would also be wise for the government of Ghana to back out of the rest of the project proposed by STX – as it is most likely that selling houses to private individuals (and speculators as well as those buying to rent!) through mortgages provided by the HFC Bank, for a share of expected profits, will end in tears.
Far better that the privately-owned STX bears all the risk for that portion of the present deal – as it is in fact a speculative venture that no sensible government with any foresight ever ought to burden itself with. One would not mind so much if the way the deal is presently structured financially was meant to bring Ghana to the top of the league of nations with the world's fastest broadband Internet: as we would reap the benefit many times over. The only person who comes out of this STX palaver with his reputation relatively intact is the Hon. Alban Bagbin – who insisted, when he first over took over the ministry for water resources, works and housing, that as a consensus politician, he was going to ensure that there was agreement amongst as many members of Parliament (from both sides of the house!) and in the country generally, about the project. It is a real pity that the top civil servants who provided advice to the housing ministry, and that of finance and economic planning, failed to grab the opportunity that the mounting criticism of the project presented the government, to advice the government to change course and deal directly with the Korean government for a government-to-government loan agreement to fund the government-owned housing part of the project as a stand-alone one. That failure speaks volumes about the inability of many government advisers to offer creative solutions to our country’s many problems. There are many patriotic Ghanaians who often say that they suspect that a majority of the top echelons of the civil service (and other government departments and agencies!) are not well-disposed towards the National Democratic Congress (NDC) regime of President Mills.
Such Ghanaians say that the controversy that has surrounded the project is an egregious example of the failings of top civil servants – in this case those who provided advice to the housing ministry and that of the finance and economic planning. However, it might very well be the case that their poor advice in this instance stems more from a lack of creative thinking on the part of a few of that most privileged group of Ghanaians, than any bad faith on their part. Above all, they should have pointed it out to the government that there was no need to railroad an agreement destined for the Supreme Court through Parliament, just to enable the Korean president cut the sod for the commencement of the project during his coming visit to Ghana – as Korea itself has had long experience, over the years, of opposition from various committees of both the Senate and the House of Representatives of the U.S. Congress to funding requests from various U.S. administrations, to support projects aimed at strengthening Korea militarily and economically: and that the government of Ghana could rather use the opposition to the project as leverage to enable it strike a better deal during the president of Korea’s visit.
What foreign dignitary visiting our shores can fail to be impressed by Nkrumah’s Ghana and the quality of its human and other resources, I ask, dear reader? The Korean president will, upon seeing our beautiful, stable, and peaceful country, understand that it is an emerging economy, which if supported by his government, will result in a relationship that is beneficial for his country. Let us therefore leave the clever brains behind STX to their own devices as far as the speculative venture to sell houses through mortgages provided by the HFC Bank goes. Incidentally, if the NDC wants to continue retaining the support of the independent-minded Ghanaians (as opposed to the “My-party-my-tribe-right-or-wrong” myrmidon-types, whose blind support of political parties is slowly tearing our nation apart!”), whose crucial swing-votes won their party the December 2008 elections, they must not make a habit of railroading agreements and bills through Parliament, which is what put so many of them off the New Patriotic Party (NPP) regime of President Kufuor. They must respect the checks and balances designed to ensure that we remain a free society. It was an outrage for the majority side in Parliament to ignore the fact that the matter had been taken to the Supreme Court. Our Parliament ought to be a graveyard for the clever schemes of special interests – not a self-serving enabler and protector of special interests: at the expense of our nation and its people, in whom, after all, sovereignty is supposed to reside, in our system. Finally, let the senior public servants who are paid so handsomely by Ghana's hard-pressed taxpayers' to advice our leaders, learn useful lessons from the STX deal – and think more creatively henceforth: for, the old rules definitely no longer apply in managing national economies, in the aftermath of the global financial meltdown. A word to the wise…
Tel (powered by Tigo – the one mobile phone network in Ghana that actually works!): + 233 (0) 27 745 3109 & the not-so-hot and clueless Vodafone wireless smartfone: + 233 (0) 30 2976238.