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Opinions of Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Columnist: Agbodza, Kwami

Free Market Akufo-Addo Ghana Will Remain in Same Poverty

If Ghanaians want a progressive economy that will end their poverty and increase their standard of life, Nana Akufo-Addo will not deliver it. This was hidden in a deconstructed piece published by Joseph Smith Adomakoh, Jr.

Nana Akufo-Addo will simply continue the same mantra of free market milestones: single digit inflation; competitive Cedi; GDP; capital inflow; investor confidence; bonds; international capital markets; and oil. Anyone familiar with free market economics will know that these are the same standard markers that we are told will end poverty in Ghana and lead the economy to take off as far back as 1947.

We are told that Nana Akufo-Addo will ultimately deliver to Ghanaians a sense of belonging, a sense of ownership and the opportunity to achieve their dream. We are told that this will be done through indigenous capitalism defined essentially as small business investment.

So Nana Akufo-Addo incredibly wants to be President so that we can all own our small businesses: the central plank of his economic programme when you peal away all the husks and political propaganda.

So if it is so profitable to own a small business, why do our politicians, including Nana, not leave politics for others and simply thrive financially on income from such small businesses themselves. They will not because they know there is more money to be made in politics than in small business development. When you are President you can own a business (e.g. a hotel near an international Airport) which all your presidential income cannot buy. Your entertainment expenses, for example, with Foreign Lady Health or Economic Consultants, are taken care of when you travel abroad. Even as a Minister when you approve a bid you may get an undisclosed ministerial %; the returns from politics are certainly more than you can make all your life in a small business.

And so you realise that Nana Akufo-Addo is taking Ghanaians nowhere because, like all Free Marketers, (1) he will only work for Ghana’s long term viability and success while in the short term, as President, he will have all the wealth and privileges he wants. But in that same short term of his desired 8 year Presidency, the majority of Ghanaians shall remain poor. How do we know this? Because in both theory and practice the free market produces poverty for the majority and wealth for the privileged few and professional minority.

Long term in Free Market Economics means ‘not in your life time’. It does not mean say 5 years as in business planning and strategy development. Indeed long term can sometimes be 50 years depending on which cycles you care about. By the time that long term comes most of us will be dead. But our children will also be told the same story of “long term viability and success”. So the Free Market Game continues. We are told to wait for wealth to trickle down. For the last 16 years of liberal [NDC)-conservative (NPP) Free Market Governance, Ghanaians have been waiting for wealth to trickle down. With the Free Market you hope against hope because no wealth will trickle down.

Like all Free Marketers he will lay emphasis on foreign investment with 100% profit repatriation and tax holidays. Unlike Rawlings we are told he will not attack the indigenous capitalists (indigenous private sector) but encourage them as President to create wealth and jobs for Ghanaians. State intervention is good for the free market but not for the welfare of Ghanaians. The state may not create an enabling environment for Ghanaians to assert their social, economic and political right to life and human happiness as set out in the Charter of the United Nations; but when it comes to the private sector, we are told it is okay. And yet Ghana’s economy is dominated by the private sector today but the majority of Ghanaians live in poverty. Then they argue that if only we have more of the same private sector, there will be wealth for all. So Akufo-Addo is promising more of the same private sector shock therapy started and administered by the PNDC under Rawlings and the free market economist Dr. Abbey – perhaps 20 million small businesses one for each Ghanaian.

If Ghanaians want to transform their economy, they must take control of it themselves. Not leave it to the free market. And certainly not to Akufo-Addo. Whatever his vision, courage, determination, and leadership abilities Ghanaians will remain in the same poverty long after his 8 year Presidency.



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