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Feature Article of Saturday, 7 July 2012

Columnist: Thompson, Kofi

Only A Truly Competitive Ghana Will Bring Us Prosperity

Ghanaian Politicians: Only A Truly Competitive Ghana Will Bring Us Prosperity

By Kofi Thompson

The economy of Ghana finally got a chance to grow in consistent fashion, when a combination of fortuitous circumstances - a key factor being public opinion in the West turning against heavily indebted poor developing nations being forced to continue making interest payments to the wealthy Western nations they were indebted to - came together to finally make possible debt write-off by the developed nations of the West.

The political party that immediately benefited from this new policy initiative of the wealthy industrialised nations of the West, was the New Patriotic Party (NPP) in June 2001 - at the time a bewildered regime newly in office and at a loss as to how to fulfil its promises.

Joining the Highly Indebted Poor Country initiative (HIPC) in 2001, it reached the HIPC decision point in 2002 and advanced to the completion point in 2004.

As a result of that stroke of luck, during its tenure, what those of us who had long predicted would happen, once the regular interest payments on Ghana's debts - which were sucking the very lifeblood out of our country - ceased being made, came to pass: and the expansion of the real economy began to take place in earnest.

The irony of it all, is that prior to debt write-off by the wealthy industrialised nations, not a single leading member of the governing NPP, joined those of us whose thinking-out-of-the-box, as far back as the 90's, led us to demand that Ghana's debts be written off - to give our country a chance to grow and prosper, and provide its citizens with a better standard of living.

Like many of our mostly-unimaginative political class, I am pretty sure that the NPP's leading lights at the time, must have thought that we were mad to demand that Ghana's debts be written off, in order to give it a chance to grow.

Alas, the financial concept of "morale hazard" had made those "book-long" theory-lovers blind to the obvious - and paralysed their cognitive power to act to effect transformational change.

So, today, when some of us hear supposedly brilliant politicians like Dr. Bawumia and Co., who know fully well that the personal circumstances of the average Ghanaian family will not change for the better, any time soon - even when their party does succeed in coming to power again - making the same old dissembling arguments about the national economy, we weep for Mother Ghana.

It is extraordinary that such politicians have failed to realise that discerning and patriotic Ghanaians are fed up to the back teeth, with the endless finger-pointing and point-scoring in the blame-game played by politicians - especially when engaging in those tired old never-ending arguments we hear incessantly on the airwaves of the electronic media and read in the columns of the print media, which insult the intelligence of ordinary people, so.

Would it not benefit the enterprise Ghana more, if Dr. Bawumia & Co., for example, were out there criss-crossing the nation outlining imaginative and cutting-edge ideas, designed to make Ghana Africa's most competitive country?

And at a time of great uncertainty in the global economic outlook, would it not send positive signals to investors who aren't risk-averse, and interested in investing in emerging markets, if our nation's political class promised to abolish personal income tax and make Ghana the nation with the lowest corporate tax rate on the surface of the planet Earth?

Will that not place Ghana near the top of the list of the most competitive nations, globally, dear reader?

Surely, it is just that sort of pro-enterprise policy environment, which, over a period of say at least a decade, will create jobs and the accumulated wealth that will make Ghana prosperous - and eventually give the vast majority of ordinary people a better standard of living?

In failing to dare to do the kind of extraordinary and original-thinking, which produces policy initiatives that could make us a truly competitive nation, are Dr. Bawumia & Co., perchance - as their harshest critics insist - not revealing why they do not deserve to be returned to power again, any time soon?

As sure as day follows night, whichever party wins the December 2012 elections, life for ordinary people in Ghana will continue to be pretty tough-going - and will unfortunately, most probably remain so, for at least the next ten years.

Finally, dear reader, what Ghana's present crop of well-educated politicians ought to understand clearly, is that only a truly competitive Ghana will eventually bring us prosperity - and improve the living standards of ordinary Ghanaians. A word to the wise...

Tel: 027 745 3109.

Email: peakofi.thompson@gmail.com

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