Feature Article of Thursday, 28 February 2013
Columnist: Danso, Kwaku A.
Resizing Ghana's Public Sector :
Editorial on: Ghana's President slashes executive freebies
We share this editorial due to its relevance and bold move by the current
President John Mahama.
Ghana's President's John Mahama's announced policy to reduce executive
spending is most laudable and welcome news. It takes a tough man to do this
kind of self-examination and we are glad President Mahama plans to take this
bold step. However it should not stop at the executive. We believe that the
whole government machinery needs to be trimmed down at least by 50%.
No matter what happens at the end of the Supreme Court verdict, current
President Mahama would have left a mark with some of his recent decisions,
if the nuts and bolts of implementation are put in place. There is a popular
saying that man only lives once. Whether this is true or not, the saying
depicts the urgency of time in life to do the best we can, since nobody can
predict the future. For a nation to reach a point where almost 60% of their
employees work for government, and yet Government-owned enterprises have all
failed and closed down, while others are sold for dirt cheap, and public
service delivery is very poor, is a shame for Ghana!
Ghana has lost all the investment our first government after independence
put in factories to produce the very items we consume. Ghana was producing
sugar, salt, flour, soap, cutlasses, matches, plastics, metal, building
materials, electronics and pharmaceuticals. What kind of people are we if we
cannot even produce what we eat and allow factories already paid for to go
belly up! Our shipping lines, airlines, public buses were all mismanaged!
And yet Ghana has some well educated people around the world as well as some
savvy businessmen and women able to survive and compete globally. Our
telephone company was managed by the Malaysians, then the Norwegians, and
now finally sold to Vodafone for $900 million. Can anybody say Vodafone has
done better except make good profit for themselves, and mostly in the
cellular phone business! Internet connectivity is sold at three times the
price consumers pay in say the USA and yet about a tenth the download and
upload speed and very unreliable!
One cannot blame Vodafone. Due to corruption and abuse of power by
executives, no Ghana state enterprise was allowed to run without
interference. Singapore run state-owned enterprises for years, and still
have a state airline that is one of the most efficient airlines. Obviously
there is nothing wrong with Ghana, as others can do well. What then is wrong
with Ghanaians, especially when they get to public office? Are we that
devoid of love for nation or we still think government is an external entity
as our uncles thought in the colonial days? For God's sake, can we make it
mandatory that our MPs and elected officials make have town-hall meetings
with their constituents every quarter so that hopefully our people will
realize the essence of government and share their feelings and pain with
their elected officials.
It is hoped that the current President will confront the reality and cut out
the fake reports provided by some segments of the public sector, and fire
some people who are not performing! No organization survives without
discipline and Ghana needs discipline. The public sector could do better
with half the employees it has now. Government belly is simply too fat!
This is not just the executive but the Judiciary that is so slow and
non-performing, and the legislators who seem to have no agenda to accomplish
laws and policies within any time frame.
One effective organizational management structure is the "profit center"
method. Ghana can perform better if we allow every department to become like
a profit unit. In other words let say the Ministry of Agriculture justify
what new food products they are coming out for the private sector to buy
into and market globally. A call to the Crop Research Institute last week
showed that they only conduct research on local products like Mangoes and
oranges. There is no research on any of the high priced fruits and
vegetables such as apples, blueberries, blackberries, plums, peaches,
grapes, brocolli, cauliflower, cabbages, tomatoes, and a myriad of crops
that can be sold locally and globally to help Ghana's GDP. Let the CSIR, CRI
and the Ministry justify their existence or cut employees back as much as
possible! This applies to all Ministries. Let the Ministry of Roads and
Highways for example justify how many kilometers of road they have
constructed in the year, how much tolls they have collected, and how much
they have paid their employees compared to their output. If they cannot
balance and justify it publicly with numbers, it means they are
Nobody should be expected to work overseas and bring a car home to pay
45-200% duties and taxes to support anybody in Ghana. And in Ghana nobody is
expected to work and pay taxes to support non-performing public sector
employees. Some of these at the Ministries don't even feel they owe the
public any explanation. During this water and electricity crisis in the last
ten years, one would have expected the Managing Directors of these companies
to face the public and explain their plans; but instead they send
sweet-talking PR men and women who may not know much except talk.
We wish the President all the best and simply suggest that he makes hay
whiles the sun shines, as the British say. Let him put in place all policies
he had envisioned, and let the ball roll!! Let the chips fall where they
Kwaku A. Danso, M.Eng., PhD (Organization & Management/Leadership)
Livermore, California, USA & East Legon-Accra, Ghana
Tel. 925-292-8042 (USA PST)
President - Ghana Leadership Union (NGO), Moderator-GLU and GLF Forums.