Feature Article of Thursday, 28 June 2012
Columnist: Thompson, Kofi
....Ordinary Ghanaians Will Not End After December's Polls
By Kofi Thompson
Listening to some of the speeches delivered by Ghanaian politicians on the hustings, you would think that Ghana was an island unto itself – free from the headwinds buffeting most of our major trading partners, as they battle to make headway, economically, in today’s choppy oceans of endless-budget-deficit-woes.
Faced with belt-tightening at home, in an era of austerity, our so-called development partners are now being forced by economic necessity, to rebalance their public finances.
It is a situation that does not make for the just-turn-a-blind-eye-to-high-level-corruption status quo of the past - in relation to aid given to poor countries that invariably ends up in the pockets of crooked politicians overseas.
So, today, instead of providing direct budgetary support to poor developing nations – which can disappear without trace, and often does – as was hitherto the case, those heavily-indebted wealthy nations are now more inclined to funding only individual development projects.
This new paradigm shift in the provision of foreign aid, is targeted particularly at poor nations blighted by high-level corruption, such as ours - because providers of those funds can monitor such development projects closely, and also easily measure their impact on the alleviation of poverty.
Clearly, if the financial woes of the wealthy nations that have been so generous to Ghana over the years deepens, it would mean, in effect, that cash-strapped wealthy nations making direct contributions to Ghana’s national budget, will eventually cease doing so.
That is why no responsible politician in Ghana ought to engage in the dangerous game of making empty promises, merely in order to get to power.
Where will they find the money to fulfil those promises - when like their Greek equivalent, both wealthy and ordinary Ghanaians, routinely evade taxes?
The raising of public expectations whiles in the political wilderness, by politicians, who then end up disappointing the masses after winning power, poses a serious threat to Ghanaian democracy, alas.
So, as an apparently responsible and modern-day technocrat-turned-politician, why is it that independent-minded and discerning Ghanaians are yet to hear the New Patriotic Party’s last-word in economics, Dr. Bawumia, for example, asking Ghanaians to prepare for yet more difficult times ahead, after the December elections? Would that not help start a new national conversation along those lines, I ask?
It is such a disappointment that now he too is busy playing the blame game, and fast becoming a past-master at the empty-promises-galore wheeze, aimed at enabling cynical political parties and ruthless politicians to get into power - even as they successfully hide the truth about the difficulties our nation’s economy faces.
It is a tragedy played out in our homeland Ghana regardless of which party and set of politicians happen to be in power, or in the political wilderness, at any given point in time.
Has Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo, the New Patriotic Party’s (NPP) presidential candidate, not made it plain that the transformation of our nation’s economy will take at least a decade?
Surely, going by that time-frame, does it not mean that it is only when a decade, or thereabouts has passed, that ordinary Ghanaians might actually start seeing a dramatic change in their living standards – and possibly enjoy a better quality of life, than they currently are?
Clearly, if the financial woes of the wealthy nations that have been generous to Ghana over the years continue to deepen, it will simply mean in effect that more and more wealthy but cash-strapped nations making direct contributions to our national budget, will eventually cease doing so.
How will that gaping hole-in-the-budget be filled in Ghana, going forward, I ask? And what are we to make of political parties and politicians seeking to win power in the December polls, who refuse to warn ordinary people about the tight-spot Ghana now finds itself in, economically, for mostly structural reasons?
Surely, they are aware that that will continue to be the case for years to come: because we have abandoned President Nkrumah’s import-substitution industrialisation policy of the past, which served us so well?
And how does our political class propose to deal with the reality that the Ghanaian nation-state is unable to collect enough tax revenues to fund its entire national budget?
Since the structural changes needed to bring prosperity to Ghana won’t occur overnight, are we therefore to conclude that any Ghanaian who thinks that the suffering of ordinary people will end, when the New Patriotic Party (NPP) comes to power after the December polls, will be disappointed – because building a prosperous society takes decades of hard work, discipline and consistent economic growth (of the green and sustainable variety)?
Perhaps the painful truth is that ours is simply an unfair and dysfunctional society, in which, with the exception of a lucky few, by and large, it is only those in power and their favourites amongst their family clans, as well as their cronies, whose personal economic circumstances change for the better, dramatically, with the occurrence of every regime-change after elections.
Thus the question we ought to be asking is: Are ordinary Ghanaians – who are not politically well-connected - hoping against hope that their suffering will end when Nana Addo Danquah’s NPP comes to power, not living in a fool’s paradise, and as a result are bound to end up being bitterly disappointed, yet again?
It would appear that as things stand in our country today, the suffering of ordinary people will definitely not end, when the NPP comes to power after the December polls.
Only a chosen few will prosper - as has always been the case in our nation, since the overthrow of President Nkrumah in 1966.
So, whether Ghana is ruled by an NPP regime under a President Akufo-Addo, or a National Democratic Congress (NDC) regime under President Mills, the bald truth, dear reader, is that the suffering of ordinary Ghanaians will continue apace, no matter who wins the December polls.
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