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Feature Article of Thursday, 10 May 2012

Columnist: Thompson, Kofi

Ghana Will Become Prosperous Only When ...

.... Those In It Work Extremely Hard & Are Always Honest

By Kofi Thompson

It is interesting listening to Ghana's clever, self-seeking politicians, and their lackeys in the media, banging on about the falling value of the Ghana cedi. What do they expect?

With respect, we have a weak and falling currency, resulting, not from economic mismanagement, but arbitrage by the currency markets.

Are Dr. Bawumia & Co., not fully aware of that? Of course they are. Should one not therefore question their sincerity - in assigning poor economic management to the fall in value of the Ghana cedi?

Surely, Dr. Bawumia & Co. are aware that essentially the value of a nation's currency is an indication of the strength of its national balance sheet?

In a sense, are national currencies not simply a market mechanism, which enables interested parties to differentiate between strong and weak national balance sheets?

And since tax-evasion is one of Ghana's national pastimes; public sector salaries eat up a large chunk of tax revenues; and our greedy ruling elites have literally given away our oil and gold deposits to foreigners, for zilch, just how do these economics geniuses expect Ghana to have a strong balance sheet and a positive cash flow balance - which will reflect in a strong Ghana cedi, I ask?

Nation's with risky balance sheets and anaemic cash-flow balances, such as ours, invariably have weak currencies - because the currency markets price that risk into the currency.

One can ignore and forgive the daft analysis of economic issues, by the many financial illiterates who pepper Ghana's political and media landscapes.

However, Bawumia & Co., are a different kettle of fish, entirely. Surely, when the perfidious Kufuor & Co. came up with that Alice-in-wonderland idea of redenominating the cedi, the Bawumias knew that it was not a magic wand that would suddenly strengthen Ghana's weak economic fundamentals - and that reality would eventually catch up and floor the Kweku Ananse Ghana-cedi-US-dollar-parity-magic conjured up by the powerful rogues, who dominated the New Patriotic Party (NPP) regime at the time?

If they wanted a stable currency, why did they not opt for using the US dollar as a transitional currency for a number of years, before finally issuing the Ghana cedi.

Furthermore, if Bawumia & Co. were truly serious and original deep-thinkers, why, instead of the endless babble about economic mismanagement, have they not suggested an open national conversation, about the need for regular payment of taxes by all who live and work in Ghana; stress the importance of good governance principles being adhered to, by our political class and businesspeople; and, above all, for a national consensus about the Ghanaian nation-state's role in society and the economy?

Finally, an ancient relic and ignoramus like me, will only start taking Bawumia & Co. seriously, when, instead of never-ending finger-pointing, I hear them calling for an end to dishonesty in all aspects of our national life; demanding that our nation confronts and deals once and for all, with pressing issues such as the payment of realistic utility prices (the only way to make Ghanaians use water, electricity and fuel wisely and efficiently, at a time of global climate change); and, above all, calling for an end to the irresponsibility of politicians (from across the spectrum) promising voters the earth, and making Ghanaians feel that somehow their lives could be transformed overnight, if they voted for a particular political party, rather than another.

The plain truth, dear reader, is that no political party can change the living standards and quality of life of ordinary people in Ghana overnight. That will take decades of consistent economic growth.

Alas, Ghana will become a prosperous society, only if the people in it work extremely hard; lead honest lives, such that they see the payment of taxes as a national duty and personal obligation, which all in Ghana must fulfil. A word to the wise...

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