Feature Article of Friday, 7 September 2012
Columnist: Thompson, Kofi
By Kofi Thompson
For those of us who for decades have insisted that a poor developing nation with aspirations, cannot afford not to give free education from kindergarten to tertiary level to its citizens, it comes as a source of immense satisfaction, that finally Ghanaian politicians are now falling over themselves, to offer free secondary education to the younger generation of Ghanaians.
For families with young offspring, the education of their wards is a matter of the utmost importance - which is why many parents make such enormous sacrifices: in order to give their children a good education.
Indeed, virtually every ordinary citizen in Ghana understands clearly, that education is the one sure route to social mobility - particularly for poor families that aspire to join our country's comfortable middle classes.
Sadly, in a nation lumbered with a political class that seldom thinks creatively, it comes as no surprise that the one source of funding that could free up precious resources - currently wasted on a daft policy that is enriching only criminal syndicates, such as those smuggling fuel across our borders - has escaped the politicians who are currently resorting to Kweku-Anase-economics, to prove that they can actually fund free secondary education: if elected to power in the December presidential and parliamentary polls.
The question is: Why do all our nation's political parties not simply reach a consensus-decision that in order to fund free education in our homeland Ghana, from kindergarten to tertiary level (for those with the aptitude to study), they will agree to the removal of every market-distorting subsidy, which is not benefiting the targeted beneficiaries, but is rather enriching wealthy criminal syndicates - and fund education through the resulting savings?
The sister west African nations that border our country, pay far more for petroleum products than we do in Ghana, for example - but their national economies have still not yet collapsed. As far as we can tell.
So what makes those who insist on subsidising petroleum products in Ghana, think that somehow our national economy would collapse, were we to pay realistic prices for petroleum products?
Will it not rather lead to the efficient use of petroleum products by those who purchase them - and lead to a switch to fuel-efficient vehicles eventually, I ask, dear reader? And will that not benefit our country in the long-term?
Why does a nation full of such intelligent Africans, insist on indirectly subsidising the consumption of fuel by some of those who live in the nations that border Ghana - by continuing to allow our country to serve as a source of cheap petroleum products for their national economies: through the nation-wrecking activities of petrol smugglers?
Surely, free-trade capitalist dynamos, such as the Hong Kongs of this world, have not prospered by resorting to the economic equivalent of burying their heads in sand - which our continuing to maintain poorly-targeted subsidies, represent?
Incredibly, as a nation, we are reportedly forking out as much as some Ghc60 millions every month, to subsidise the consumption of petroleum products. Is that not crazy, dear reader - and an expensive folly that can only lead to the ruination of the enterprise Ghana, eventually?
If politicians want to know how to fund free education from kindergarten to tertiary level, let them confront the madness that maintaining ineffective subsidies - in a democratic nation that wants to have an efficient market economy in order to become a prosperous society - represents. A word to the wise...
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