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Opinions of Wednesday, 4 December 2002

Columnist: Adu-Asare, R. Y

Ghana Economic Forum, Matters Arising

: The Question of Leadership in the Planning, Execution of Efficient Development Strategy

For the span of almost two years that the New Patriotic Party, NPP, government led by President John Agyekum Kufuor has been in office, there have been significant empirical pointers that leave one to doubt whether the regime has the capacity to produce and execute a development plan that would lead Ghana on the road to economic advancement and progressive social change.

Ghana?s 1992 constitution obliges the government in power to introduce a development plan within two years in office. Ghanaians have been assured that this constitutional requirement is going to be met by the NPP government. The relevant question to ask, as society waits anxiously, is whether this government can provide the leadership for successful execution of a productive development plan?

Elite members of NPP, since assuming power, have not lost a chance to tell the world that their party has been in political opposition for 30 years.

One would have thought that with 30 years experience of opposition political practice, in and out of parliament, the NPP would have come to office armed with a polished blueprint to redirect the course of Ghana?s development. Instead, the Kufuor-led NPP government had to recruit the services of Paa Kwesi Nduom, executive member of an opposing political party, Convention People?s Party, CPP, to lead the formulation of a ?vision? for Ghana?s development. Simply put, the NPP sought office without a vision for development; power for the sake of power.

Paa Kwesi Nduom, Pres. Kufuor?s appointee, doubles as chairman of Ghana?s National Development Planning Commission, NDPC and Minister for Economic Planning and Regional Integration.

Any active Ghanaian who thinks there could be a coincidence of economic and political thinking for development between (Nkrumahist) CPP and (Busiaist) NPP, must not be sufficiently knowledgeable of the brief political history of Ghana or otherwise a victim of negative political socialization.

Kwame Nkrumah and the CPP?s development agenda for Gold Coast/Ghana was based on a principle of utilizing maximum political power of the state, as a state, to mobilize national resources for equitable distribution across the board. In contrast, the NPP has not deviated from its roots of unbridled backward form of capitalistic agenda whereby the so-called ?private sector? is supposed to be the engine for development in ?a country where most people are poor,? (to use Nduom?s language.).

After a PowerPoint-assisted review of Ghana?s previous development plans since 1951, there was agreement between Nduom, Ghana?s Minister for Economic Planning and Regional Integration and his audience at the premises of Ghana embassy in Washington, DC, Saturday, Aug. 10, that ?ineffective leadership?, among other factors, accounted for their unsuccessful implementation. Nduom?s presentation was part of a four-hour forum billed as ?Workshop on National Development Policy Framework Document.?

According to Nduom?s analysis, ?political instability? and ?economic immaturity? had been the other factors that made previous development plans incapable of carrying Ghana to where it could have been in 45 years, compared to other post-colonial entities deemed to have done well, developmentally speaking.

Given the setting and conditions for the Workshop, it was not surprising for majority of the audience to have fallen inline with Nduom?s analysis and findings. Invitations to attend the all-important Workshop were received 36 hours before the event date. Besides, the four-hour meeting started one hour late, on a Saturday afternoon.

On further reflection, it is defensible to suggest that in theory and practice, Nduom?s mode of analysis lacked rigor and the conclusions constituted nothing but hollow claptrap of rhetorical jargon without much substance.

According to NDPC documents, ?ineffective leadership? in the past was characterized by ?Lack of enduring vision, ?Misguided policies and Weak implementation;? political instability had been caused by ?Coup d?etats;? while ?economic immaturity? had been a result of ?Reliance on primary products and ?Low productivity.?

In a society prone to violent political opposition and military coup d?etats, there is no caliber of leadership whose vision can be enduring, have guided policies and much less to implement them effectively.

Kwame Nkrumah?s government which introduced and executed 1951 ? 1959 development plans, did so in a national atmosphere characterized by extreme ethno-regional and ethno-class violence unleashed by political opposition of the National Liberation Movement, NLM, and the United Party, UP, that it begat. Eventually, Nkrumah?s government was overthrown by a section of Ghana?s military in 1966 and it handed over political power in 1969, to the Progress Party, PP, another outgrowth of the NLM.

Relevance of the above description of conditions of ?political instability,? is to show that it is too much of a generalization to depict ?ineffective leadership? as a cause for unsuccessful implementation of previous development plans for Ghana. Rather, it is deemed more useful to suggest, here, that evaluation of implementation of each previous development plan for Ghana has to be undertaken on the basis of its own merits and dynamics, against the background of a concept of periodization. This same assessment regimen has to be applied to future development plans for Ghana.

Since societies are in constant motion, one is hard pressed to understand what is meant by ?economic immaturity? as used in the NDPC document. Besides, the issue of ?Reliance on primary products? cannot be discussed outside of the overriding contradictions of the world political economy at given periods. Additionally, national political leaders don?t make decisions and ground rules about ?productivity?; it is a factor of economic performance at the level of production.

In social studies, it is established that the point of departure determines the point of arrival. In this sense, where the NPP has started from, with respect to national public policy implementation, ought to throw light on where it is taking Ghana on the development route. Besides, a Ghanaian metaphor has it that if a social function is likely to be successful, it becomes evident early in the morning. Joe Appiah, the late stalwart political opponent of the CPP government was fond of saying, ?Coming events cast their shadows long before them.?

There are active Ghanaians that have made critical comments about the direction and trajectory of public policy implementations of Pres. Kufuor?s administration in the short period of its existence. It is hoped that some of the critical observations would be able to tell Ghanaians where NPP government?s policies are headed, beyond sloganeering. If what the NPP government has attempted to accomplish in two years does not enhance the integrity of development in Ghana, on what basis can the citizens be sure that steering the nation towards prosperity is in able hands?

To start with, indicators from Ghana?s central bank, Bank of Ghana and statement in parliament by the minister of finance on outcomes of government economic policies as well as subsequent comments on it by parliamentary opposition members, point to unsatisfactory performance by the NPP government. Clearly, Kufuor?s administration has not been able to match pre-election words with deeds in the area of its stated economic agenda.

In recent times NPP leaders seem to have been back-pedaling on the promises the party made to Ghanaian voters by citing lack of money resources for intended infrastructure projects. One would have expected that given all the ?talents? the NPP is supposed to be endowed with, leaders of the party would have known what was available in the national till before sounding off politically deceitful declarations.

Defending the political fiasco brought unto the NPP government with respect to an attempt to access $1 billion loan from doubtful sources, Haruna Esseku, the party?s chairman said, ?My interest is in ensuring that that my party is able to fulfill the promises that we have made to Ghanaians and most of these promises can be fulfilled through the use of money.? (See: Ghanaweb.com, ?Why We Took the ?IFC? Loan ? NPP?; General News of Monday, Nov. 25, 2002). In the same news report, Esseku was quoted, ?I can bet that those who think that this government, with all the talents that we have, will go for a scam loan, will be disappointed, no, not this government.?

Well, the jury has decided; the talented NPP government went for a scam loan and when it realized its folly, retreated diligently. This must be a haunting and hallowing end of year for Mr. Haruna Esseku; the party?s talents have let him down and he owes Ghanaians an apology for defending the indefensible!

Governor of Bank of Ghana, Paul Acquah, while saying recently that Ghana?s economy has done well over the past year, also questioned sustainability of macroeconomic policies of the NPP administration. (See: Ghanaweb.com, ?The Economy has Performed Well ? BOG Governor; General News, Nov. 23, 2002). Reportedly, Acquah told journalists in Ghana that government expenditure outpaced revenue growth which was ?robust and on target.? He indicated also that government borrowing from domestic money market increased by 4.7 per cent of GDP.

Acquah explained that government borrowing from the central bank ?was almost close to the statutory 10 percent ceiling under the Bank of Ghana Act,? the news report stated. He said also that there was substantive money growth during the year, including ?private inward remittances? amounting to $540.06 million.

In practical terms, implication of the indicators presented by the Governor of Bank of Ghana is that while there is money in Ghana?s financial sector for government to borrow at will, there is no evidence that the economy has been productive or created new jobs. This economic scenario does not support predictions and promises made by Ghana?s Minister of Finance, Yaw Osafo-Maafo, when the NPP government took office in January 2001. In short, efficient management of Ghana?s economy by the NPP government is in doubt.

Ghana?s 2001 and 2002 budgets, unwittingly, had been based on anticipation of foreign capital inflow in the form of loans; a tendency which reproduces economic dependency with demonstrable outcomes of poverty and unemployment. In addition, Ghana?s economy has become more a captive of IMF policies geared towards economic growth, without guarantee for development. A post-colonial African government which buckles in the knees when multilateral monetary institutions and so-called ?donor? countries sneeze, so to speak, is a sellout of the future prosperity of its subjects.

In the two years it has been in office, the NPP government has not implemented numerous proposed programs for changing the course and direction of decline in the provision of education and health services dragged down rat holes by the preceding NDC administrations. The NPP government has become better known for making announcements about proposed programs for improving provision of quality education than actually doing the required practical things.

?The Minister of Education has said that about 40 per cent of Junior Secondary School (JSS) graduates throughout the country [Ghana] gained admission into Senior Secondary Schools (SSS) this year. ?He stated that out of about 265,000 students who sat for the Basic Certificate Examination, only 157, 000 got aggregates between six and 30 to enable them to gain admission into the senior secondary level. He expressed regret that the remaining 60 per cent of graduates were struggling to survive on the streets without any bright future. Prof. Akumfi-Ameyaw was speaking at the commissioning of a $20m Vocational Technical Resources Centre (VOTEC) at Twene Amanfo Secondary Technical School in Sunyani.? (See: Ghanmaweb.com, ?Only 40% in Senior Secondary;? General News of Friday, Nov. 29, 2002).

At the end of NPP government?s first year in office, Professor Ivan Addae-Mensah, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ghana, warned against high illiteracy rate in the country. Referring to the latest National Population Census, Addae-Mensah pointed out,"43.4 per cent of those who are three years old or more have never been to school and 49.9 per cent of the adult population of 15 years or more are totally illiterate." (See: www.ghanaweb.com; ?Government urged to check high illiteracy rate?, General News of Saturday, 29 December 2001). He emphasized correctly, the direct relationship between national rate of literacy and the sustenance of development principles.

Healthcare provision in Ghana under the NPP government has been as life threatening as it was under the Jerry Rawlings administrations. In spite of declarations of intent to stem the outflow of trained Ghanaian medical personnel from the country, the NPP government has not matched words with deeds in two years.

Ghana?s Minister of Agriculture, Major Courage Quashigah (Rtd) recently lamented that productive capacity of Ghana?s agricultural sector is very much below where it could be. (See: Ghanaweb.com, ?Move from Subsistence to Industrial Crops ? Quashigah?; General News of Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2002). ?Major Quashigah said, for example, the average yield of 11.3 tonnes per hectare for cassava was far below the achievable yield of 28 tonnes per hectare and that of yam could be increased from the current 11.7 tonnes per hectare to 23 tonnes per hectare,? the news report cited. Armed with these outstanding data, active Ghanaians ought to question why our government, for the past two years, has not done what it needs to do to move Ghana?s food production up the economic ladder; a sure way out of poverty and to prosperity.

It does not seem that the ?talents? within the Kufuor administration are conversant with the phenomenon of environmental conditions as a function of national security.

Environmental conditions in Ghana as a function of national security are at a risk, indicated by incapacity to provide adequate potable water for the citizenry in a country endowed with several water basins; reappearance of dormant infectious diseases; incapability to manage sustainable development of mining activity; mismanagement of urban sanitation. In fact, the more serious threat from the environmental sector of Ghana is that when Pres. Kufuor, in good conscience, says one thing, his ministers and operatives go outside The Castle to do something different. Ultimately, though, the buck stops at Kufuor?s desk.

Canvassing for public input in the search for a vision of development agenda for Ghana has been counterproductive because of idiosyncratic and parochial bent of individuals? interests as opposed to that of the nation. Most contributions at the August 10, 2002 ?workshop? at the Ghana embassy in Washington, DC, for collecting ideas towards formulation of a vision for a national development document reflected individual, as opposed to national interest. Often times, interest of the individual in society could be different from that of the nation as a whole. Individuals and groups tend to crave for the by-way to their hometowns and villages rather than caring about the highway that links a country, as a whole. This is not unique to Ghanaians, by the way.

Judging from the haphazard manner in which funds accruing from the HIPC initiative have been distributed, thus far, one gets the impression that the process is likely to create incubation and hatchery for corruption. One can go as far as to suggest that the process for distributing the HIPC funds smacks of an exercise for political vote buying. In this instance, Dr. Charles Jebuni hit the nail on the head when he observed that ?the government?s Poverty Reduction Strategy does not favor the poor.? (See: Ghanaweb.com, ?Govt?s Poverty Reduction Strategy is Unfavorable?; General News of Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2002).

Jebuni cited instances of public expenditure in the provision of facilities that are not accessible to the poor because they cannot afford the related fees. He argued that provision of such facilities in Ghana is not likely to alleviate poverty. He suggested that resources for poverty alleviation ought to be directed towards improving the income base of the poor.

While the target for moving Ghana from below $400.00 to $1000.00 per capita income is achievable in the foreseeable future, there are doubts if it could be done under the leadership of the NPP government today, given the fumbles and foibles that have attended to the manner it has managed the national economy in the last two years.

R. Y. Adu-Asare www.AfricaNewscast.com
Dale City, VA; Saturday, Nov. 30, 2002

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


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