Feature Article of Sunday, 20 May 2012
Columnist: Tamakloe Kojo
Since 2008 the world has been in economic turmoil and all are doing their best to find solutions. The latest indicators show UK has a double digit recession despite a Conservative government that took over from the socialist leaning labor party. France has just this week also due to economic woes and lack of solution by the conservative Sarkowzky been toppled by a socialist government . Spain has a 25% unemployment rate despite a conservative government . Among the youth of Spain unemployment is said to be as much as 50% . Germany the giant of Europe and also with a conservative government is not faring better, not to talk of Italy and the sick one Greece. Across the Atlantic , the USA the world’s biggest economy is stuttering and locked in ideological gridlock as to where to go. For nearly a decade they had all pursued policies where taxes were reduced with the HOPE that once the wealthy were Ok they would take care of the rest. The question is, did they achieve the desired results? As I write the G8 countries are meeting at Camp David, USA, to assess and plan a way forward . It is a crisis meeting . What we have now is the wealthy 1% as against the poor 99% . The middle class , the engine of growth is shrinking . In the words of Jimmy Cliff “ The rich get richer and the poor get poorer.
It is two years since Nana Dankwa Akuffo Addo a conservative traditionalist was elected Flag Bearer of the NPP which seeks to replace the current one under President Mills. They have labeled him “Mr go slow” . That means there is a movement forward but may be not at the rate one would want . In any endeavor ones progress depends upon what impediments there are. In our case there will be two main factors that are internal and external. The internal factors you have control over and the external you cannot control .These internal factors will relate to inflation, money supply and fiscal policies
Inflation at current levels is at 9.1% down from 18.8% , three years ago. That means the current government has halved the inflation rate it came to meet. The NPP says the inflation rate they met was 43% and after 8 years brought it down to the 18.83% . That is progress but compared to” Professor go slow “who was slower ?I must point out that part of the inflation is however imported . This type of inflation you cannot do anything about. Prices like imported rice, cars, machinery .
Fiscal policies . This relates to taxation as this affects ability to invest and at the same time collection by the State. President Mills has increased taxes on certain commodities more so to encourage local production and discourage the importation . One will appreciate that job creation depends a lot on what can be produced locally as against what we import
Money supply which relates to the interest rates first by the Central Bank , BOG which filters down to the commercial banks .This has also seen a down ward trend since “professor go slow” took over . So with lower interest rates and higher money supply, entrepreneurs should be encouraged to borrow money and invest. Elsewhere in the world interest rates are at their lowest so Ghanaians in the Diaspora could also take advantage ,borrow and come and invest in the local economy
We can also look at the laws and social factors that can facilitate or militate against investment and of course the cancer and curse of corruption coupled with the peace which all add up to the risk factors .Here I am talking about the peace in the country and any likelihood of election violence ,pertaining to inflammatory statements like “ all die be die” , kill the Gas and Ewes, we have to win at all costs, as against possible nationalization of private or business assets , availability of human resource locally and the work ethics of the local population .
Unemployment, in a developing country is more because there are idle resources We could put these into play ourselves or sell them to foreign owners . This is where socialism or free enterprise come in
If job creation has not materialized at the rate that it should then we need to look at the time frame and external factors . Why are Ghanaians not taking advantage of the economic and social factors at play to invest and create jobs? Take food production where we import nearly $2bn .Could we reduce this and create jobs So the question , despite the noise, are Ghanaians entrepreneurial , and so can they run a real free market system ?
The answers to these should be relevant in the type of government we elect and the ideologies of the leaders we put in place. Certain things are simple , “ if it ain’t broke do not fix it”
December 2012 is around the corner and we have a lot of noise as to who will or can do what. It is two years since Nana Dankwa Akuffo Addo a conservative traditionalist was elected the flag bearer of the opposition NPP. To be honest there has been more noise than any solid policy proposals. Free SHS and the Zongos program . So what about Awonaga,Sodom & Gommorah, Chorkor, Ashaiman , Kotokraba, and even New Town.?
Party Profiles NPP . The leader now is Nana Akuffo Addo . From the above factors that are internal, what would he do differently as they profess a free market system under a property ownership slogan. We can liken their ideology to these of George Bush, PM, Cameron of the UK and Sarkowzky of France and Germany now. Theirs is lower taxes and low interest rates to stimulate the economy as entrepreneurs will be motivated by profit to invest thereby creating jobs .
Socially they are conservative , hence the xenophobia, and racism , tribal statements like , yen akanfo, all die be die, kill the Ewe , kill the Gas, ntafo, pepefo, and intolerance to females, other religions, other cultures as they tend to have supremacist ideas. It is the ideology that led to Nazism. NPP has been viewed as an elitist party from its onset, with its reliance on so called learned people, PHd and the pomposity of calling others “ veranda boys” , and their leader saying “ children of professors should not mix with those of kenkey sellers”
The past experience of this party in power has been dishonesty and inability to manage the economy. A point is the fate and demise of Ghana Airways , the debt left behind in spite of HIPC debt forgiveness, TOR sick state and the near collapse of Ghana Commercial bank . Huge housing deficit , and heavy reliance on imports . In 8 years none was found to be dishonest even though it is glaringly obvious . Ken Agyeppong who accuses the President to be a thief does not know the extent of and source of his wealth. Our friend Tarzan who destroyed the audit trail by paying for work by cash .Compare this with our so called “ gargauntum” fraudster Woyome who issued a cheque leaving an audit trail .
Why did the NPP do to earn the caption “ Ali Babaa & the 40 thieves”?
These are challenges that need to be erased and so a definition of what they will do especially in terms of creating a surplus in terms of income which can be used to finance the capital and developmental promises it is touting. The Bush Highway was financed by external money but there were a lot of projects started but not completed due to LACK of funds . Also it needs to convince us that they are genuinely non tribal and has honest credentials
NDC . A center left party with a cautious leader . It have been born out of necessity , with a mixed group consisting of progressives , liberals and also a home to Nkrumiasts and opportunists So in its ranks can be found the old style socialists, communists. and non ideologues The leader and founder himself is not an ideologue who got into politics more by default , than by design .His emphasis is on probity and accountability . The philosophy now can be described more as social democrats . It tends to mix the “ trickle down approach” an Adam Smithsonian philosophy with that of Keynesianism . Perhaps this is the drawback as decision makers need to debate every issue. The leader an ex military person is yet to fully imbibe democratic debate and principles and rationalize his position with the presidency. Then there is the Nana Konadu factor who despite being an elder still has ambitions on the presidency
Socially , it is more inclusive and tolerates divergent views despite it militaristic origins. Its base is more from the deprived communities who identified with the parties origins . It is thus more pro poor . There can be no gainsaying what it has achieved so far . I view one of the greatest being the way it handled the 1 million returnees in the period of “ Ghana must go”
Challenges now are reconciliation of the founder and the wife with the decision makers and so presenting a united front . This I will say is a very serious challenge and the earlier this is done the better for the party and its chances of retaining power . Then the issue of giving the populace an ideology that can be articulated in simple terms that can be used to market its mission of “ better Ghana’ . Then there is the Woyome saga .Its resolution is a double edged sword with a no win situation. Also is the inability to successfully prosecute the culprits that were in the “ Ali Babaa & the 40 thieves gang” . My point is just because the person was not successfully prosecuted does not mean the person is innocent. Accountants calculate income as against assets . Can one explain excess assets over income ? Al Capone was a crook and was well known for boot legging and murder . He was a Mafioso .He could not be found guilty as no one will testify . Did that make Al Capone an innocent person? Finally the party also needs to find ways to grow the economy and raise income so Ghana can be independent of IMF and World Bank dictates and in the process develop effective communication to match if not surpass that of the opposition NPP
CPP Originally founded as the first true political party which has an ideology mistakenly taken to be Marxist . The Founder Dr Kwame Nkrumah having studied in the USA was aware of the weaknesses of the free market system and was averse to adopting it whole sale. He was ahead of his time in forging a philosophy of a mixed economy , a partnership of private ownership with public ownership . He called his “scientific socialism “ . Whereas the private person looks for profit and in a short time, the State will look at cost benefit analysis evaluating how many will benefit from an expenditure. Let us look at University of Ghana . How much was spent and how many people have benefitted.?
The party probably has the best economic ideology being left of center and people centered . It believes in big ideas such as African Unity or economic association and what unity can achieve for the disadvantaged person. Their ideas of unity preceded the European Union and NAFTA . Not only did it utilize the economic principles of good governance but applied Lord Keynes economic theory of State intervention to achieve positive results. In 9 years , Ghana had the highest growth rate amassing as many as 300 factories, motorways, harbors, universities training colleges , roads and high rate of human resource development . “ Ambition should be made of sterner stuff” . The CPP passed laws to unite the tribalist parties that opposed it , as it wanted a meaningful contribution from them . Naturally when they became violent they had to be dealt with and firmly too. The opponents called it dictatorship.
Challenges The CPP needs to really market itself disabusing the minds of voters on what it means by socialism. Being fragmented for so long , it has a herculean or “guangantum” task of recruiting and retaining membership. The party needs a catchy slogan and a powerful communication team , not to engage in mud slinging and insults but to educate the public especially the youth . Theirs is a long term project of mobilization . The CPP needs to come out wit the achievements of the first republic and inform the youth of the pride Ghanaians had under the Founder, Dr Nkrumah . In that light the CPP needs to grow leadership , so that they can have faces that are known and familiar. That is branding . They should also disabuse the minds of people that socialism is the same as hand outs . Under Dr Nkrumah the slogan was “ work and happiness”
Some said of the 230 constituencies , 180 belong the NDC and the NPP , the CPP should work hard on the 50 seats at play as it does not have the resources to waste
Forward ever , backward never
The question I have always asked is if Ghanaians will embrace the philosophy of “self reliance “
Three of our leaders touted this , Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah, the Founder and Life Patron of the Nation, Gen Kutu Acheampong and last but not least Ex Prex JJ Rawlings . That is the way for us to go
The writer Kojo Tamakloe is an Nkrumaist and a Pan Africanist who believes Africa’s best interests lie in a United Africa and the application of Nkrumaism