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Opinions of Sunday, 8 January 2017

Columnist: Lungu, Prof.

Akufo Addo's million-dollar cash giveaways to voting districts

The intelligent questions for everyone to ask is: When Akufo Addo gives $1 million per voter district, will my Region pay, or will my Region get?...Will you get $14.09? Who will lose $6.46 to the person in your proud Region?...What is the Constitutional basis?...Will the payments truly "enhance accountability in governance...(and)...effective separation of powers" when it is the executive who decides what the program will be and it is the same executive who takes the funds directly from the top of the national capital expenditure budget....Regions do not have the same number of constituencies, or the same number of people in constituencies, or the same geographic extent.

Areas do not have the same unit cost for similar facilities...(W)e can all agree that by virtue of geography alone, it should cost more money to construct 5 miles of road of the same quality and functionality in the Kwahu Mountains than in the Savannah plains in Afienya...When Akufo Addo gives $1 million per voter district, will your Region pay, or will your Region get?...Prof Lungu, 6 Jan 17).


Moving on from Part I....

In Part 2 of this paper, prior to presenting data, we develop further the conceptual and policy conundrum associated with the Akufo Addo largesse of million-dollars-per-constituency- per-year program.

IT IS THE "CONSTITUTION" AND THE "NUMBER OF PEOPLE" IN A COMMUNITY AND THIER NEEDS THAT OUGHT TO MATTER HERE:

It is the constitution and the number of people in communities and their needs that ought to matter here. In governance and administration today, unless articulated by a logical formula (modeled on the number of people (and area, in some cases)), under a properly functioning Constitution, nobody in Ghana, not even a president who received 54% of votes cast in an election where nearly half as many eligible voters did not vote, not even Nana Akufo Addo Dankwa, ought to be able to decree that they will allocate $1 million to each voting district.

This flows directly from our previous discussion that voting districts are not communities. And again, it smacks of executive over-reach and lack of accountability.

Serious Akufo Addo must first complete the work started by the Mills-Mahama government on the warts-infected Rawlings Constitution if we must have confidence when he says he will complete every project started by the Mills-Mahama government. There is no more important, foundational "project", even if the NPP, for some rather bizarre reason, neglected to incldue that "project" in their manifesto. As such, that is one of the most important issues every Ghanaian, regardless of party affiliation, ought to be pounding the pavement right in front of Akufo Addo, right now, to wit:

(1) What is the Constitutional basis of the $1M per constituency program?

(2) When are you going to repair that warts-infected Rawlings Constitution, and why must you delay, if that is your plan?

(3) How will the $1M per constituency "enhance accountability in governance by promoting the effective separation of powers" when it is the executive who decides what the program will be and it is the same executive who takes however much they want directly from the top of the national capital expenditure budget, subject to change by the next president when you are gone from the public eye? .

(3) Is it really true that the total annual cost of the $1M per constituency program is $275 million?

(4) When Akufo Addo gives $1 million per voter district, will my Region pay, or will my Region get?

Beyond electioneering talk, Akufo Addo and Dr. Bawumia have provided no information explaining exactly how the "new programme" will work. Not surprisingly, many people are confused today. Being rational, some people are thinking Akufo Addo will make the $1M annual payments to "each district", meaning the duly-chartered Administrative Districts we discussed above.

Sorry-ooh Mama/Oga!

Not!

That is not the case at all. Akufo Addo and Bawumia are talking about Electoral Commission "Constituencies", (i.e. Voting Districts).


BUT THERE ALSO WAS REGIONAL PLANNING ALWAYS:

Why not make the Administrative Districts (or failing that, Census Districts) in Regions the object of the awards?

In Ghana today, the largest functional political entity outside the National government is obviously the "Region". While in theory the concept of the region is elastic Ghanaian "Regions" have since the overthrow of Kwame Nkrumah in 1966 not been effectively planned and incentivized as growth poles, there would still be currency to that idea.

After all, regional development planning is still an academic discipline, with tool and methods to spur, control, and manage land use changes, economic development, and growth of Ghanaian communities

Voting districts are no places!

History shows that when in the 1950s and early 1960s Nkrumah's government programmed national development projects, they made sure all regions contributed to, and benefited from, the national development agenda. It was that national development policy that built Tema Harbor, the Akosombo Dam, the Tema Oil Refinery.

It was the same national development policy that constructed educational facilities and systems throughout the land that trained Akufo Addo and Dr. Bawumia, and their parents, including medical centers and facilities such as Gee/Komfo Anokye Hospital (KATH) and Korle Bu.

It was the same Region-focused national development policy that built all those roads, schools, factories and facilities that latter day governments, from Ankrah's NLC, to Busia's Progress Party, to Rawlings/Mills/Mahama P/NDC, to Kufour/Akufo Addo NPP, etc., sold without compunction and proper accounting, many at fire sales to their friends in high places and foreign interests. Kwame Nkrumah's government did not go chasing after "Constituents" with promises of money for development.

GEE/Komfo Anokye Hospital (KATH) in Kumasi was in fact built to serve not only the Ashanti Region, but also then Northern and Brong Ahafo Regions.

That was national development policy-making 101.

Next to the larger question about the Constitution, the other fundamental question is, does it reveal a measure of Akufo Addo's character, leadership abilities, and dedication to Unitary Ghana that because other governments over 2 generations failed badly to appoint dedicated, competent, and community-centered administrators to run the Administrative Districts in Regions, that Akufo Addo himself would inherently be incapable of, and/or unwilling to negate that disastrous trend?

SAME DEVELOPMENT COSTS MORE IN CERTAIN LOCALES FOR THE SAME NUMBER OF "CONSTITUENTS" EVEN WHEN PRIORITIZED:

Fact is, dedicating and actually paying out almost 20% of all national capital development funds to/at the constituency level without any regard to national development priorities and the needs of the Region in which the constituency sits may be good politics, but it does not good policy make. That idea is not as nearly internally coherent as it ought to be because it is founded on an inappropriate geographic unit.

The big idea is, all Regions do not have the same number of constituencies, or the same number of people in constituencies, or the same geographic extent and characteristics, or the same unit cost for similar facilities.

If we must provide just one simple example, we can all agree that by virtue of geography alone, it costs more to construct 5 miles of road of the same quality and functionality in the Kwahu Mountains than in the Savannah plains in Afienya. And, if a community needs to build sea water retaining wall before they can construct the same 5 miles of road, cost will most likely be a lot more.

But, that is National Development without attempting to see how many voters are on ahead, and to the sides of the road we must construct to develop Ghana as Ghana.

Needless conundrum, we must say!

TEN (10) POLICY-RELATED QUESTIONS FOR AKUFO ADDO:

The conundrum and incoherence of the $1M per constituency is further demonstrated with any good faith effort at answering one or more of the following 10 key questions directly related to that policy the basis of which is the "Voting District".

1. When Dr. Bawumia says it is up to "...the local people to decide what their problems are...", are they actually saying anything goes?

2. Is Akufo Addo saying that if a Constituency decides they want to use the funds to develop their community by building churches, mosques, brothels, casinos, etc., that the Government of Ghana will support those solutions as answers to "their problems?

3. Suppose there is a food processing factory in Constituency A, and the "leaders" and other powers in nearby Constituency B do not like the owner(s) of that factory, for one reason or the other. Suppose officials in Constituency B decide they want their own food processing factory, can Constituency B still use the funds for a second processing factory within easy reach of the existing facility in Constituency A?

4. For development of "infrastructure", will the Constituencies be able to borrow using the projected/in-coming funds as collateral, to whom, when, and at what interest rate(s)?

5. When a Constituency misuses or loses their $1 million allocation in Year X, does it mean that Constituency has in fact met their development needs for the period? What will Akufo Addo tell people in the Constituency who may still need the services that were promised but not delivered, and what to Ghanaians?

6. Suppose Constituency A wants to build a road and Constituency B says not in our backyard. Who will get what and who will decide what is best given national development priorities and agenda, and the interests of the Region as well?

7. Will each Constituency have to produce proposals and send reports directly to the Region, or Accra? Who will pay for the cost to develop the proposals?

8. How will Government of Ghana evaluate the proposals by the constituencies, if each can still get the funds and do any project "they" want?

9. Who will administer the $1 million per Constituency annual grants and how much will that cost each year?

10. Will the Government of Ghana have the responsibility to evaluate the projects at any cost to see how each project achieves projected/predicted outcomes, and their impact on gainful employment in the medium- to long-term, any horizon?

(In Part 2, we will present additional charts and graphics to prove our case that there are potential winners and losers absent a Ghana-centered regional development planning focus of the Akufo Addo/Bawumia $1 million-dollar cash giveaway to voting districts).
So it goes, Ghana!