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Opinions of Friday, 29 April 2016

Columnist: Michael Jarvis Bokor

Beyond the partisan politics, what next?

Folks, we have all this while been discussing issues bordering on hardcore politics, especially how the two main political parties (the NDC and the NPP) are each other's throat in this early part of the electioneering campaign season.

We haven't heard anything new so far, even though the "Accounting to the People" tour by President Mahama gives us a clear picture of what his government has been able to provide for the people in accordance with his government's agenda of transforming Ghana and changing lives for the better.

As is to be expected, the NPP people are expending energy, condemning his tour and creating the impression that Ghana is still endangered under an NDC-led administration. Nothing new from the NPP to tell us how they will rule Ghana differently.

On its part, the NDC administration insists that it has everything under control and will use its second term to "put money in the pockets of Ghanaians." How that will be done is up in the air.

I want to wonder about a few pertinent issues about our economy and why it is difficult for our politicians to do the right thing.

1. Ghana had for many decades ago been acclaimed as the world's leading cocoa producer, but it lost that position to the Ivory Coast (following the disastrous drought in the early 1980's and mismanagement of affairs). It hasn't recovered ever since. So, gold took over as the largest contributor to our GDP. That sector too has virtually seen "red," especially following the collapse of the AGC or Anglo-Gold. So, what is the mainstay of Ghana's economy now? (Certainly, not tourism; or...?).

Why is it difficult to reinstate cocoa as the main foreign exchange earner? Or to diversify the economy, generally? There are many Ghanaian's thumping their chests as "renowned economists" (theory-filled empty braggarts, I dare call them). What can they offer to make the turn-around?

2. We know that our two harbours (Tema and Takoradi) have a long history of good and evil as far as import-export transactions are concerned. Let's focus on the import sector, where obnoxious taxes are imposed and Ghanaian businesses feel the pinch. No one needs repeating the anger and frustration of the business sector---or ordinary Ghanaians importing common items like cars or Ghanaians living overseas sending home vehicles only to be slapped with obnoxious taxes to destroy their dreams. Why is it so?

We know that Togo has all these years been operating a "free port" strategy to grow businesses in the import sector area. Why is it possible for Togo to go that way but difficult for Ghana to do so?

I am not informed enough to discuss anything about the operations of a "free port"; but I assume that if that road is beneficial to countries going it, it should be so for Ghana too. Why are we not operating the "free port" strategy?

Folks, I have raised these two issues just to provoke minds and sustain our conversation on the challenges facing our country. So far, none of the politicians could tell us anything about how they would transform our country's economy. They are harping on mere political power and making useless promises. I think someone has to say something new at this point. Who will do so?