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General News of Thursday, 18 July 2013

Source: Joy Online

4-year election cycle doesn’t make sense – Kwesi Pratt

Managing Editor of the Insight newspaper, Kwesi Pratt Junior has said the current four-year electoral cycle undermines long-term planning needed to turn this country.

Mr. Pratt made this observation on Metro TV’s Good Morning Ghana program Wednesday.

The veteran journalist observed that short-election cycle was encouraging a politics of quick fixes such as increasing petroleum prices and communication service tax because it is easy to collect.

He noted, opposition parties always have brilliant ideas but as soon as they win elections, these ideas evaporate.

He explained that this was because four-year tenure only encourages easy solutions.

Mr Pratt added that in its first year, a new government usually “gropes in the dark” as it tries to gain a hold on the state of the development across several agencies. By the third year, elections would be approaching often forcing governments to abandon development projects, he explained.

“The election cycle itself is a problem. What can we do so quickly so that we can win the hearts and minds and prepare for next elections,” he exclaimed.

Mr. Pratt said: “I fully agree with former President Kufuor that we should expand the term. It doesn’t make sense to organize elections every four years. What can any government do in four years?

President Kufuor called for an increase in the tenure of a government during his last address to Parliament in 2009.

He said the divestiture of a strategic company like Ghana Telecom to pay monthly salaries of public workers, proves his point.

He suggested that the lack of long-term investments in agriculture was the reason why a country like Ghana, with viable soil conditions for the cultivation of rice in all the ten regions, could be importing $500 million worth of polished rice every year.

He continued that for a country to import "cutlass, catapult, ludo, oware and handkerchiefs," can never be really serious about creating employment opportunities.

“What special skill does it take to make a handkerchief - a piece of cloth the size of my palm. If we are importing all of this, how can you create employment in your country”, he wondered.

He predicted that real development will cause great distress because many decisions intended to cause a paradigm shift in the structure of the economy, will be unpopular and unpleasant.

He said 20 years of doing public advocacy for this paradigm shift has not yielded desired effect, making him sound like a “broken gramophone record”.