Feature Article of Wednesday, 16 November 2011
Columnist: Sakyi, Kwesi Atta
By Kwesi Atta Sakyi
13th November 2011
In his campaign manifesto and message to Ghanaians, President John Atta Mills promised to deliver a package, a Better Ghana Agenda. Since assuming office in 2008, Ghanaians have waited patiently for this but it seems it has been illusionary, if not elusive. Is the Better Ghana Agenda battered? How can we better the Better Ghana Agenda? If the Better Ghana Agenda were a loaf of bread, where is it buttered? What are the aspirations and expectations of Ghanaians? I think you will agree with me that rhetoric is cheap because walking the talk is no easy matter. Whatever President Fiifi Atta Mills envisaged in 2008 could be interpreted in many ways as it is subjective. He promised many jobs, no learning under trees, no corruption and improving the lot of the Ghanaian worker. Well, next year will be four years since the President came to power. In the life of a nation, four years is too short a time to judge the performance of a president. However, Ghanaians are impatient for development. The President in assuming office, complained of massive domestic debt inherited from his predecessor, empty state coffers, among others. I guess he has been doing housekeeping exercise since taking over and we could give him the benefit of the doubt. Albeit, the nature of Ghanaians is that they demand a charismatic leader who is aggressive. Herein lie the contrast between the incumbent President, Atta Mills, and his close political rival, Nana Akuffo Addo. Come 2012, we will expect Ghanaians to take stock of the Better Ghana Agenda. Currently, Ghanaians are worried about joblessness, poor quality education and unsatisfactory health care delivery, pogrom and carnage on our roads due to numerous car accidents, armed robbery, corruption, upsurge of homosexuality and drug trafficking, rising cost of living, high domestic bills, shortage of gas, threats from Fulani herdsmen, flash floods, uncompleted roads, and lastly the spate of strikes, including the recent doctors’ strike. Of course, the President cannot control the forces of nature to control the causes of floods, but when they have occurred, palliative measures are needed to minimize the consequences to the victims.
To achieve a better Ghana, I will implore the President to address the issues I have raised above. We expect the 2012 budget to be pro-poor by drastically reducing the tax burden such as VAT, PAYE and import duties. It is only when these taxes are reduced can we see a better Ghana whose bread is heavily buttered. Or else, Ghanaians will continue to be battered by hardships. 2012 will be a make or break year and between now and the elections somewhere in November 2012, a lot can be done by the ruling NDC to turn the tables. It is sad to note that the NDC is notorious for their harsh fiscal policies, exemplified by a plethora of high taxes. If the tax burden could be reduced, especially indirect taxes on fuel, imports and food items, then Ghanaians could have some breathing space and they could have room to swing a cat, or better still, enjoy high standards of living. I expect the 2012 budget to address the tax regime by widening the tax base to cover the informal sector and to allocate more resources to agriculture to increase output and productivity. Our health care delivery system and educational institutions should also be strengthened to improve these cardinal areas of human capital investment. If possible, the government should launch a nation wide Operation Feed the Nation campaign to revive waning agriculture. I will also recommend a campaign to reduce road accidents as the high rate of accidents on our roads is unpardonable wastage of human capital. In deed, Ghanaians expect a lot more from the Better Ghana Agenda than hitherto delivered. Is it because of paucity of governance skills on the part of our current leadership or is it because we as a nation have failed to rally behind the President’s clarion call to action? Be that as it may, Ghanaians are still waiting to be taken to the promised land of the Better Ghana Agenda and mere rhetoric and tokenism or cosmetic solutions will not do. Currently, the STX deal is in abeyance, the single spine promise has been calamitous and Jubilee House has become a tourist attraction and a white elephant, despite enormous amounts of borrowed capital sunk into it. They say politics is about numbers and it seems Egya Atta cares more about his own principles than winning people to his side. Such contumacy, obstinacy, adamancy, intransigence and obduracy! When I studied management, I was taught that there are shades of leaders in the life of an organization. These begin with champion leaders, tank commander leaders, housekeeping leaders and lemon-squeezer leaders. I wonder sometimes what leadership we have now. When it comes to work ethics, we have eager beavers, mercenary workers, freeloaders and skivers. Eager beavers stay long in an organization and give their maximum best while freeloaders stay long but contribute very little to the organization. Mercenary workers work to the maximum but stay the shortest. The worst worker is a skiver who stays at the job the shortest and gets the least work done. That said, what is the way forward for Ghana? Are we winning with Egya Atta’s formula of Better Ghana Agenda or do we need to change the guards, come 2012? The choice is for Ghanaians to decide.