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Opinions of Saturday, 19 April 2008

Columnist: Agbodza, Kwami

Free Market Statistics Marshalled for Alleged Drug-Addict

The State of debate in Ghana in which Spokespersons of a ruling Government acting on behalf of a Presidential Candidate of a political Party and Conservative Newspapers like Statesman also acting on behalf of a Presidential Candidate of a political Party will marshal statistics not to enlighten a debate but to destroy public interest in a topic is one of the worse practices in political journalism under Free Market Dictatorship in Ghana today. It is even more so, when none of these quoted statistics is ever related to the policy aim of creating a just and free society according to Ghana’s constitution.

But this is what happened as reported, first, on General News of Friday, 28 March 2008, entitled CPP's attempt to floor NPP flawed. According to that story, Nii Moi Thompson, CPP spokesperson of The Convention People's Party has expressed their unhappiness with Nana Akufo-Addo stating the obvious that the 2008 elections will boil down to a straight fight between the New Patriotic Party and the National Democratic Congress.

While it is by no means obvious that the coming election is a straight fight between NPP and NDC, the Statesman went on to throw a challenge to the CPP. The challenge was to show the source of their exchange rate figures. The Statesman went as far as stating in one instance, quote, this question can only stem from the CPP’s atavistic belief that only government can act as the engine of economic growth. The investments in the manufacturing sector, according to checks made by The Statesman, were made mainly by the private sector, unquote. The enthusiasm of the Statesman in coming to the rescue of Akufo-Addo, we note, has not been matched elsewhere, in which it has been silent on whether the alleged drug-Addict Akufo-Addo has a legal qualification or not.

As if that was not enough, second, Kwaku Kwarteng, a so-called Government Spokesman (Finance & Economy), in General News of Saturday, 29 March 2008 on ghanaweb, sought to portray himself as an expert on economics and finance while doing the propaganda work of the NPP as a political party. As if his untenable position is not enough, he even sought to ridicule the CPP by saying, quote, You see, for the year 2000, the minimum wage was ¢2900 until November when it was revised to ¢4200 but never implemented until the NPP came into office. It was therefore a mistake for the CPP to have used ¢4200 as minimum wage for the year 2000 and applied an annual average exchange rate to get US$0.77. That was completely wrong. They should not do that again, unquote. If Kwaku Kwarteng is a paid Civil Servant, he should know he cannot dabble in politics in that way. If Kwaku Kwarteng is paid by the NPP, he should not be described as an official Government Spokesman but an NPP Party Spokesman on Finance and Economy. For a Government Spokesman to use such contemptible and derogatory language, quote, they should not do that again, unquote, as if they were speaking to some small boy in Ghanaian parlance, when that Government Spokesman is addressing a registered political Party serves as enough grounds for complaint to the Head of Civil Service if he is a paid Civil Servant. Whatever the case, the CPP must seek clarification on Kwaku kwarteng’s position in the matter.

As if even that was not enough, he sought to justify poverty in Ghana by quoting minimum wages of $41 in 2005 among others as an outstanding achievement. Hear Kwarteng, quote, First, we notice some significant changes in public sector wages between 2000 and 2005. Basic salary in the public sector was below one US dollar-a-day between 2000 and 2002. As shown in the table below, the basic salary in the public sector was only $17 per month in 2000. It increased to $22 per month in 2001 and to $24 in 2002. It reached the one-dollar-a-day benchmark in 2003 and increased to $41 per month in 2005, unquote. Incredibly, one-dollar-a-day benchmark is a significant NPP achievement and, more so or even so, when it is below two-dollars-a-day. It is even most incredible when the reader notes his silence on the fact that it does not apply to the non-public sector and hence the informal sector too where the majority of Ghanaians are employed. Not to mention others. Kwaku Kwarteng and his spin-Masters and collaborators may think it is wonderful to quote the TUC in support of the poverty situation in Ghana, even to justify poverty. Although it may be clear to them, it is not clear to others that it is the business of a trade union to speak or write in a kind of language that will enable a Conservative Government, such as the NPP, to be quoting them. The workers of Ghana must certainly be questioning their leadership who make it their business to be praising and justifying government policy for government and not for, or in defence, of their members. My concern in writing this article is the deliberate use of statistics to kill any serious debate in Ghana around finance and economics. They all do it including Bank of Ghana. And here let us note the deliberate media strategy of Statesman, quote, Meanwhile, according to the latest report from the BoG, the domestic industry and the private sector benefited from a rapid expansion in credit with continued strong asset and credit growth through January 2008. On year on year basis, banks’ credit to the private sector grew by 60.4 percent (GH¢1,256.9 million) to GH¢3,336.9 million in January 2008, compared with 46.9 percent (GH¢664.3 million) in the year to January 2007. The Services sector accounted for 32.1 percent of the increase in credit with some 45 percent of the amount channelled into personal loans. This sector is followed by Commerce (19.0 percent), Miscellaneous (15.6 percent), Construction (10.6 percent) and transport, storage and communication (5.4 percent), and Agriculture (3.4 percent). This increase in credit was financed by deposits, which have grown significantly, with demand deposits growing by 24.6 percent to GH¢1,507.0 million at the end of January 2008, compared with a growth of 42.9 percent for the same period in 2007. Savings & Time deposits stood at GH¢1,890.0 million at the end of January 2008, representing an annual growth of 49.9 percent. Also, total assets of the banking industry recorded an annual growth of 46.2 percent to GH¢7,807.1 million at the end of January 2008, compared with 38.1 percent, GH¢5,341.7 million in January 2007, unquote.

If anyone is prepared to state as Kwaku Kwarteng and Statesman has that, quote, it is an undeniable fact that Ghana’s economy under the NPP administration has done very well in the last seven years. As Ghanaians, we should all feel proud about this and build on it…Obviously, the NPP government’s record on formal sector wages is outstanding…unquote, we can confidently say that such political propagandist statements, which is what they are, are blatant and open lies on behalf an NPP Presidential Candidate. Nothing in the long figures they have quoted demonstrates the conclusion that the NPP administration has done very well with respect to the constitutional policy aim. And $41 minimum wage even in Free Market terms is anything but outstanding.

Kwaku Kwarteng noted that by leaning on this approach to challenge what Nana said, the CPP missed the point and were commenting on something else. Kwaku did not however tell us what that something else is. He did not bother to even investigate it because he was more interested as a Government Spokesman to act as a member of a Presidential Candidate’s team and spew NPP propaganda. If he had bothered to know he would know that all the above by himself and Statesman were completely irrelevant to the central question the CPP was, and has always been, interested in.

He and Statesman failed to address that something else because they know that something else is the central issue: the standard of life of ALL Ghanaians and the failure of the NPP Administration to increase it in real terms to date. Not the standard of life of just Ashantis, not just the Ashanti Monarchy, not just Kufour’s family and friends, not just top NPP officials, not just top Government Ministers and their families and girlfriends and concubines; not just the NPP Anti-Ewe cliques at home and abroad. Not just the above, but all Ghanaians including the Kayayei (our daughters from the North) who are beasts of burden in Accra and Asantehene’s Kumasi.

This was the central issue that the CPP has always been interested in. In doing so, it has the right not to rely on so-called official Liberal-Conservative Free Market figures from the Bank of Ghana, Ministry of Finance, World Bank and the GIPC. The CPP will, and must use, whatever figure it deems fit and is under no obligation to reveal the source(s) to anyone whatsoever. Indeed it has every right to compute its own figures and do its own calculations if it has the resources. Nii Moi Thompson has no apologies to make to anyone.

Free Market statistics in Ghana as things stand must be treated with due care because the Bank of Ghana’s Governor has just won an award for implementing his own unmandated Free Market vision. The Ministry of Finance is filled with unelected Foreign Officials who work with Bank of Ghana. The GIPC’s mandate is to implement Free Market Promotionals to ensure and deepen Foreign Free Market control of Ghana’s economy. The Ghana Statistical Service wants to do its work and provide the nation’s statistical markers that all anywhere, and which we can all, rely on without dispute. But they are denied the resources to do their work in case they come up with the true anti-Free market real poverty statistics that cannot be quoted by the Kwaku Kwartengs and Statesmen. For example, as they have shown, Ghana’s economy when measured in cedis depending on which method you use can be said to have grown from ¢27.15 trillion in 2000 (2001 Budget Statement) to an impressive ¢139.75 trillion in 2007 (2008 Budget Statement). This means that the Ghanaian economy is now more than five (5) times what it was when the NPP assumed office when clearly whatever its growth, whether four or five or twice, is not reflected in the standard of life of Ghanaians. So we have the untenable situation in which the World Bank, for instance, that has ensured our poverty to date is one of our sources of quotable statistics.

As a former Branch Secretary of CPP UK & Ireland and former CPP Greater Accra Regional Education Secretary and Ablekuma-Central Constituency Chairman, I would like all to note that, to quote Nkrumah on arguments about the use of statistics and statistical analysis, quote, it ought to be recognized at the outset that the introduced terms…are abstractions. But the ground for them is in social reality. It is quite possible by means of statistical analysis to discover the ways in which positive action and negative action are related in any given society. The statistical analysis will be of such facts as production, distribution, income, etc. Any such analysis must reveal one of three possible situations. Positive action may exceed negative action, or negative action may exceed positive action, or they may form an unstable equilibrium….In order that true independence should be won, it is necessary that positive action should come to overwhelm negative action. Admittedly, a semblance of true independence is possible without this specific relation. When this happens, we say that neo-colonialism has set in, for neo-colonialism is a guise adopted by negative action in order to give the impression that it has been overcome by positive action. Neo-colonialism is negative action playing possum…In order to forestall this, it is necessary for positive action to be backed by a mass party, and qualitatively to improve this mass so that by education and an increase in its degree of consciousness, its aptitude for positive action becomes heightened…positive action must be backed by a mass party, complete with its instruments of education This was why the Convention People's Party of Ghana developed from an early stage its education wing, workers' wing, farmers' wing, youth wing, women's wing, etc. In this way, the people received constant political education, their self-awareness was increased and such a self-image was formed as ruthlessly excluded colonialism in all its guises. It is also in the backing of million of members and supporters, united by a common radical purpose, that the revolutionary character of the Convention People's Party consists, and not merely in the piquancy of its programs. Its mass and national support made it possible to think in realistic terms of instituting changes of a fundamental nature in the social hotch potch bequeathed by colonialism, unquote. (Quoted from chapter 4 of Consciencism)

Finally, it is ideologically wrong to say that it is, quote, the CPP’s atavistic belief that only government can act as the engine of economic growth, unquote. This is not true. And the CPP has never said anything of the sort. On the contrary the sound philosophical belief of the CPP is that there are numerous institutional engines of economic growth including the private sector. Others include co-operatives, public corporations and Government-Private initiatives amongst others. Whereas all the sectors are important to reach a balanced economic development of Ghana, only Government can act as the lead agency. The Private Sector lacks the capacity anywhere in the world to play that role because they are above all interested only in their private profit and not the general good. And no where in the world, has the free market private sector developed any country. They have rather ensured through crony capitalism that there is no free and just society anywhere in the world including China and Zimbabwe.

email: kwami_agbodza@yahoo.co.uk