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Opinions of Sunday, 4 September 2011

Columnist: The Emperor

Kufour Is Ghana's Greatest President

I remember when Bill Clinton left the Oval Office. The year was 2000! For the western world, the beginning of a new millennium. Shortly after his departure, he was interviewed on his eight-year presidency. The name of the journalist who interviewed him has eluded me. But then, eleven years have come and gone since the said interview. So, please, do pardon me for displaying signs of amnesia! During the interview, the former US President was asked many questions. Of course, what most of us wanted to know was; how did he manage to transform America’s economy for the better? Remember, the Clinton/Gore administration inherited a country, which faced record deficits. Statistics have it that in 1992, 10 million Americans were unemployed. According to economists, America’s economy faced the prospect of a recession. In brief, the Clinton/Gore administration inherited an economy, which was performing below par. So, the question was posed. It was desperately in need of an answer to satisfy the curiously-minded!

Bill Clinton informed the journalist that prior to his presidency, it was politics as usual in Washington. He introduced common sense to politics! In fact, fixing America’s half-bruised economy wasn’t going to be easy. The odds were in their disfavor! At least, so they seemed. However, the administration succeeded within eight years in government. The record budget deficits became surpluses. 22 million jobs were created. Core inflation was drastically reduced. The poverty rate in America plummeted. Under the Clinton/Gore administration, America registered the largest surplus ever. A surplus of $237 billion, to be precise. In addition, America saw her publicly held debt reduced by $363 billion. The largest pay down in her history! In fact, Clinton’s economic accomplishments are too many to list. I have purposely excluded many of these accomplishments due to time constraints!

Unarguably, the Clinton/Gore administration left America with a strong market-economy. A strong and resilient market-economy to be proud of! Having said this, the success story could’ve ended differently. It could’ve gone the opposite direction! Evidently, this wasn’t meant to be. A long term economic plan, coupled to ambition and devotion--proved redemptory. They made all the difference! Luis Inacio Lula da Silva is a name, which should ring a bell. From 2003-2011, he served as the 35th President of Brazil. He is credited for Brazil’s economic success, and rightfully so. When Mr Luis da Silva assumed the presidency in 2003, his country was heavily indebted! The IMF and the World Bank were the ones calling the shots. The poverty rate in that country was at its all time high. Joblessness was forcing many into a life of crime. The country’s infrastructure was nothing to write home about! In short, the future of Brazil didn’t look promising at all. So, Mr Luis da Silva and his cabinet members went to work.

Under his astute leadership, several socio-economic programmes were successfully implemented. One of those programmes was the Growth Acceleration Programme, which had a budget of $353 billion. Its intention was to strengthen Brazil's infrastructure, consequently stimulate the private sector and create more jobs. It worked! This programme, together with the others, had a major impact on poverty alleviation. It’s estimated that between 2002 and 2010, 25 million Brazilians were lifted out of poverty. Today, Brazil has cleared all her debts. The country has the eighth-largest economy in the world. Thanks, of course, to Mr Luis da Silva's common sense approach, Brazil's long term economic development plan, and the Brazilians all-hands-on-deck mentality. Ex President Kufour came to power in the year 2000. Back then, Ghana's economy was performing below par. Foreign investment was at its all time low, and inflation was at its all time high. Our currency was steadily in decline! The Rawlings' administration did what it could do with what it had. No doubt! However, a great deal was left undone with so much left to do. So, the NPP, under Kufour's guidance, went to work. Within a short period of time, our gross domestic product escalated from $3.74 billion to $7.34 billion. A remarkable accomplishment, without a doubt. Slowly but surely, the monies came by knocking. Micro and macro credit were extended to those who sought self-employment. An improved health-care system was introduced. It was made available to all and sundry! As a result of the increment in her foreign trade, Ghana saw her net income and revenue soar. Numerous debts cancellations were soon to follow! For sure, Kufour's administration was on course. Ghana couldn't have been better. It shown! The Mills' administration came to power in 2008. Most naturally, the new administration expected to find something in the treasury. It was dry! There was no money left in it whatsoever. So, what happened? Where did the monies go? And, why wasn't any savings made? Perhaps, we should ask ex President Kufour this question. He ought to know! Some say that Kufour is Ghana's greatest president. I beg to differ! To me, a great president is a president who turns a deficit into a surplus. A great president saves money for the future! What Bill Clinton and Mr Luis da Silva did is what constitutes greatness! Ex President Kufour had the chance to write his name in gold. He blew it!

Welcome 2 the New age of Consciousness!

Source: The Emperor

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