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Opinions of Friday, 29 December 2017

Columnist: K. Badu

Generations must know: How NDC shattered Ghana’s dreams (III)

There is no gainsaying the fact that the bribery and corruption cases involving SSNIT, SUBA, SADA, GYEEDA, Woyome, Bus branding, Brazil World Cup, NSS, amongst others invariably distorted Ghana’s economy, threatened the fundamental human rights and subverted the institutions that guarantee stability.

If we go down memory lane, prior to the formation of the NDC in 1992, the founder of the NDC, J. J. Rawlings, and his coup making friends vowed to purge off the alleged widespread sleazes, corruption and social injustices in the country which instigated their coup d’états in 1979 and 1981.

In their hasty attempts to lustrate the country of the perceived needless maliciousness and injustices, they carried out what they termed “house cleaning exercise”,--they dealt with perceived offenders arbitrarily (instant justice).

The mutinous coup makers, so to speak, proceeded with their intentions and callously exterminated eight prominent officers, whom they wrongly accused of committing sleazes and corruption without trial.

Ironically, however, former President Rawlings and his cohorts are said to have founded the NDC based on the principles of probity, accountability and transparency. Yet sleazes and corruption were so prevalent in the successive NDC governments.

And what is more, if we compared the alleged corrupt practices of the murdered army officers with the sleazes and corruption which took place in the erstwhile NDC administration, we cannot resist but to maintain that the Generals were “shot for less”.

It is, however, worthy to note that former President Rawlings ruled the country for nineteen years. The first part of his regime, which lasted eleven years, was an abhorrent imposition through a series of coup d’états.

Although the PNDC and NDC administrations back then paraded some seasoned politicians, the vast majority of the military personnel who headed important Ministries were novices in the political scene.

Unsurprisingly, therefore, Rawlings’s administration adopted the disastrous Economic Recovery Programme (ERP), which was introduced under the auspices of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Regrettably, the vast majority of tangible national assets, including the state-owned enterprises were allegedly sold to friends and families for pittance.

The apparent unfavourable Economic Recovery Programme, in fact, culminated in a catalogue of hardships. And, on top of the harsh programmes and policies which threatened the economic fundamentals, the population had to clutch itself for food shortages, a situation which the world press somehow ignored in favour of the concurrent Ethiopian famine that resulted in millions of deaths.

Indeed, their desperate attempt to initiate the Programme of Action to Mitigate the Social Costs of Adjustment (PAMSCAD) did nothing to improve the unfortunate situation as untold hardships permeated many households.

Starvation, so to speak, visited the vast majority of Ghanaians, and hence developing revoltingly ugly collar bones, which the humorous Ghanaians renamed as “Rawlings Chain”. That was indeed the pernicious extent of the hunger.

Perhaps, in juxtaposition, the 1983 hunger was comparable to that of the Ethiopian famine back then. However, Ghana’s famine was not hyperbolised by the global media.

Somehow, both Ghana and Ethiopia were back then ruled by uncompliant military dictatorships that looked on cluelessly and somehow unperturbed whilst the citizens endured widespread hunger.

And, as food shortages escalated in Ghana, some traders started creating artificial shortages of goods by hoarding them so as to charge exorbitant prices at a later time.

Disappointingly, despite being in power for nineteen years, former President J. J. Rawlings’s could not initiate any meaningful policies and programmes to improve on the socio-economic standards of living, but only managed to destabilise Ghana’s macroeconomic indicators.

Thus, after taking over the presidency from Ex-President Rawlings on 7th January 2001, President Kufuor had a tough time running the country, as there was not much funds left in the national purse to plan anything meaningful.

Ghana was then declared as Highly Indebted Poor Country (HIPC). The newly elected President Kufuor had a tough decision to make, by either embracing or rejecting the HIPC status. However, the forward thinking President Kufuor chose to swallow a bitter pill with a view to getting over the malaise. He thus pragmatically embraced the HIPC status in 2001.

On reflection, though, the benefits of the HIPC were unprecedented during former President Kufuor’s administration, from (2001-2008).

Consequently, macroeconomic indicators begun to stabilize and Ghana’s debt stock was significantly reduced by about $4 billion within that period (BOG).

Besides, as a result of the HIPC initiative and prudent borrowing, Ghana’s external debt stock actually declined from $6.1 billion in 2000 to$3.8 billion by 2008 (BOG). It was an unprecedented achievement, so to speak.

It is also worth stressing that the average GDP growth of the NDC from 1993-2000 was 3.8% while that of the NPP from 2001-2008 was5.2% with economic growth reaching 6.3% in 2007 and 9.1 in 2009 (GSS/BOG).

As it was expected, former President Kufuor successfully completed his first term in office (four years), having successfully managed to stabilise the macroeconomic indicators.

Subsequently, the good people of Ghana handed him the mandate for another four year term following a keenly contested presidential election on 7th December 2004.

In a grand scheme of things, it would be an understatement to point out that former President Kufuor’s pragmatic policies and programmes reaped tremendous results. Due to time and space constraints, I will not be able to enumerate all the wonderful achievements during his tenure in office.

As I hinted earlier, the list of former President Kufuor’s achievements is not exhaustive. However, I would not be able to list all of them at this point in time. All that I can state is that, former President Kufuor did so much to improve on Ghana’s economic fortunes.

Take, for example, Ex-President Kufuor and his government managed to expand Ghana’s economy and thereby quadrupling the GDP to a favourable $28 billion by 2008. Plus, the NPP government left an encouraging economic growth of around 9.1 per cent.

Moreover, through hard work, Kufuor’s government managed to discover oil in commercial quantities, which eventually helped moved Ghana to Middle Income Economy.

Indeed, President Kufuor exerted dint of critical thinking, worked strenuously for eight solid years, laid an auspicious economic foundation and retired honourably in January 2009.

President Kufuor admirably passed on the baton to the late President Mills on 7th January 2009, following his victory in the runoff election on 28 December 2008.