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Opinions of Sunday, 21 May 2006

Columnist: Ampofo Ofori

Beyond Loans And Aid ....

What are we doing ourselves?

Everyday, Ghana signs a Loan agreement with one Country or the other. Let me be frank, Loans are not totally a bad idea, if they are used for the purposes for which they were intended , and whether the Loans will transform the lives of the average Ghanaian. We have for the last fifty years, relied solely on Loans and other types of Aid for our Economic survival; but, Ghanaians still live in abject poverty. What bothers me most is that, whilst we clamor for Loans and Loans and more Loans, we sit down doing nothing on our own to supplement the Loans to make us self-sufficient, to eventually wean us from begging other Countries, IMF and World Bank for Loans.

Fellow citizens, Ghana is endowed with abundant natural resources and vast arable lands. What are we doing on our own to improve the conditions in our country and eradicate poverty, disease, hunger and hopelessness from this great country?

THE MILLENNIUM CHALLENGE ACCOUNTS. Fellow Ghanaians, what is the millennium challenge, challenging us to do as a country? It is only challenging us, Ghana and other African countries to govern ourselves under democratic principles, apply our resources judiciously, and be reviewed periodically. Ghana has been reviewed and must now assess a free dispensation of an amount of 500 million US dollars. That was the brain child of US President George W. Bush six years ago.

A Presidential entourage flew to the US to be reviewed on April 12th 2006 without much publicity in the US press, only to be told to come back on July 28th 2006 to assess the Account. As at now, all our leader?s eyes and minds are focused on this account to be set rolling for disbursement. The question is, do our leaders have to sit down doing no brain search to find ways to get us out of spoon feeding by others, and feed ourselves? Can?t our leaders sit down and plan the success of our future from our own back yard?

America and the other countries spoon feeding us, have made us lazy and doing nothing people, refusing to apply our God given intellects for the good of our society. Of course that is how they want to see us behave; but we think they are doing us favors.

When the terrorists used air planes to bring the world trade center down in New York, President George W. Bush, challenged America to build a far much stronger and better building with a memorial in its place to prove the enemy wrong. Yes, the building is going to take off, and will be called ?THE FREEDOM TOWER.?

That is the kind of challenge America should throw to the underdeveloped countries like Ghana, to develop their own indigenous economies applying whatever they have from their own back yard within a specified period, as a measure for assess to the millennium challenge account, and that of course will call for good Governance. Ghana is waiting for the millennium account to transform our agriculture through mechanization and irrigation. Now, what is so special about mechanized farming that we have not had the initiative to challenge our University of Science and Technology for all these years to work towards that goal? Can?t we build a ?FREEDOM ECONOMY? OURSELVES?

Dr. Paa Kwasi Ndoum, Minister for Private sector Reform, who headed the Ghana team to negotiate the signing of the Millennium challenge Account, said in Washington during the trip that, the (MCA) is truly a transformational project, which will turn the fortunes of the Country. Yeh! Yeh! He further said that three is also an additional 450 million dollars that the Government of Ghana would negotiate from its development partners. A total pledge of close to One billion US dollars. Very nice, But; ---

Fellow Ghanaians, don?t let us be overwhelmed by that One billion dollars; because it is a different thing getting the money and a different thing applying the money. The G8 recently wrote 4.8 billion dollars of our debts off. That amount could not transform our Country so I don?t see why Dr. Paa Kwasi Ndoum is so elated describing the project truly transformational. Assessing that account is no achievement as being eluded to,by the Government because every one can be asked to govern democratically and can do it or ignore it. It is simply a matter of choice. It is not a scientific or Technological development, and or, an achievement to be proud of.

NATURAL RESOURCES. Fellow Ghanaians, the fact that we do not have the technology to mine our natural resources like Gold and Diamonds, does not suggest that we should just sign bogus agreements with the Multi National Companies to steal our fortunes. Gold Fields of Tarkwa has 71.1% in their operations , 18.9% is owed by a Canadian Company (IAM Gold) 10% Ghana Government (Free Cary) interest.

What percentage of Interest does the Government of Ghana have in Anglo gold? In a recent lecture by Hon. Akofo Addo (Foreign Minister) at the (KNUST ) on 17th February 2006, it was revealed that Ghana gets only 5% of the value of Gold exports; according to the 2005 September (UNCTAD) report.

New Mont, (Ghana Ltd) The second major world Gold mining company is mining Gold and doing serious explorations around the Country, but I believe they have also been handed over a bogus agreement to exploit our wealth at the detriment of our people. Our own big men will hand over our national treasures to the Multi-Nationals for their percentages, and they, the same Big men, go round the Multi- Nationals to beg for Loans and Aid for our Economic survival. WHAT IS WRONG WITH US AT ALL?

Even if all our agreements are free carry interest, the People of this Country deserve a Third portion of profits out of our Natural resources. Period! We may not be lucky to have Gold and Diamond deposits for ever and ever, we should therefore start doing what is right for our generations unborn, and stop the exploitative agreement deals with the Multi-national Companies. Fellow Ghanaians, please go to any of these major Gold and Diamond mining towns, Oboasi, Tarkwa, Bogoso and Akwatia, to name a few, and make conclusions, if conditions in these towns are any better than any other towns in the country, ask yourselves why it is so? Why are we poor in the mist of plenty?

IF WE WILL HAVE GOOD DEALS FROM OUR MINERAL AGREEMENTS, EMBARK ON A SERIOUS AGRICULTURAL PATH, AND EVERY GHANAIAN IN BOTH FORMAL AND INFORMAL SECTORS OF OUR ECONOMY IS MADE TO PAY HIS OR HER FAIR SHARE OF TAXES, GHANA WILL NEVER BE CLASIFIED AS A POOR COUNTRY. LET US SIT UP, MY PEOPLE. IT IS NEVER TOO LATE.

Ampofo Ofori (Chairman, Save Ghana Now Association)

Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.