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Opinions of Tuesday, 8 August 2006

Columnist: Mornah, Anbataayela Bernard

Ghana-can we learn from the past

I write this article against the backdrop that our beloved country Ghana faces eminent auction in the hands of the NPP-led regime under the leadership of President John Agyekum Kufmy. This apparent auction must be reversed so as to maintain some modicum of respect for the Ghanaian state and her people.

Dear reader, I read with dismay cruel and rude information that government of Ghana would offload 70% of her shares in TOR and that 35% will go to a “strategic” investors whilst 35% is floated on the Ghana stock exchange- I initially thought our governments had enough reason not to embarked on such a perilous venture, but recent evidence prove me bitterly wrong.

I am also informed that S.K Corporation and Samsun of Korea have been contacted for this purchase. Minister of finance and economic planning Hon Kwadjo baah-Wiredu had said that the purpose of this expected disposal is to infuse or inject capital and managerial capacity into the operations of TOR.

Experience is the best teacher: I find this attempt by the NPP very injurious to the future of our generation and an affront to the capabilities of the Ghanaian. I find that the NPP has not learnt any lessons from the plethora of evidence that abound in my country vis-à-vis privatization and the expected gains it promises. I am appalled at the hypocrisy of government that when it serves its interest, state ownership of strategic establishment comes under the ambit of government. May be, it is an affirmation that wherever there is prospect of kickbacks the economy can be sacrificed by the perfidious interest of those we elect to serve us.

The evidence that faces us scarily is that the prescriptions of the Briton Woods Institutions [BWI] may have worked in other economies but have obviously failed in our country and to a large extent account for the current deplorable state of our economy. In many respects, the prescriptions of the BWI has brought about unparallel magnitude of youth unemployment, accentuated level of poverty, collapse of many industries and a litany of sad memories. The prescriptions of BWI, dating from the 1980s to present time have been that, for us to achieve economic emancipation, our government need to divorce herself from playing any role in manning enterprises. They said this through the ERP, SAP, and PAMSCAD and now to the inglorious Highly Indebted Poor Countries [HIPC] initiative. It is these prescriptions that have devastated our national efforts at redemption, which are still being pursued with such an unbelievable enthusiasm even by our “property owning” government.

They BWI, proclaimed to our governments that in order to gain economic salvation, we need to: ? Retrench or redeploy workers, and as obedient and faithful children of these institutions, we complied ? Reduce interest rate, we complied ? Open my economy, we complied ? Reduce inflation, we complied ? Absolve government from doing business, we complied ? Remove subsidies on agriculture, we complied ? Introduce full cost recovery, we complied and ? Devalue my currency, we complied

After almost three decades of wobbling under their instructions, Ghana is now credited with the dubious distinction of being part of the exclusive clubs of Highly Indebted Poor Countries [HIPC]. The question is when will our governments learn from the failings of the past? Is experience really the best teacher?

The collapse of Ghana Airways and the emergence of Ghana International Airlines that seem to even be deeply inundated in worst problems than its predecessor, must serve as a lesson to government that after all privatization does not necessarily denote increased efficiency, and service delivery. The cankerous of deep-seated political interference through the appointment of square pegs to into round holes, has been the bane of our crisis. Furthermore, the promised dividends of privatizing the Ghana Fishing Corporation, Ghana Water and Sewerage Corporation, Ghana National Trading Corporation and a host of others only evokes nostalgic memories.

The below quotation is a prelude to my next line of argument: “There is growing concern and opposition to the Bush administration's plan to let a Dubai-based firm to operate some key U.S. ports. So far the administrations response is: my decision is final”. Joe Gandelman-professional ventriloquist

In the most advanced “liberal” economy of the USA, the Bush administration had to retreat in its attempt to foist on the American people a private takeover of five ports by a Dubai company. The Americans did this because of the prestige they attached to such strategic investments and also about the security of the American economy. The fear that a Dubai based firms’ takeover of an essential industry would lend the US to probable sabotage and leakage of vital security tips to opponents should spur Ghanaians to demand a protection of national investments.

Fortunately, for us TOR is doing very well and has demonstrated over the years that under a proficient management it could do tremendous. I am aware that many Ghanaians have the capabilities to face this challenge of management. The strategic nature of TOR vis-à-vis domestic prices of petroleum products and cost of living plus affordability among our population must be of interest to government.

I can say without any shred of doubt that continued administering of these prescriptions by BWI would render Ghana a pariah state. The nation cannot afford this and hence my call on government to abrogate its dream of the sale of TOR and the planned privatization of other state owned enterprises. Even with government absolutely in charge of TOR- Ghanaians are suffocating under unbearable fuel prices that seek to betray families, businesses and allied institutions. What will be fate of Ghanaians if a profit tilting business conglomerate whose implicit motive is to exploit society to make profit?

We can no longer sit arms-folded and watch our governments auction our future on the alter that the “President knows best”. Our future is intrinsically anchored on what our leaders of today do and the legacy they bequeath to us. That is why I call on civil society and all well-meaning Ghanaians to join in the struggle to halt governments’ effrontery at wonton dissipation of state and nation Ghana for a mess of potash. To this extend, it is appropriate to acknowledge the bravery of Hon P.C. Ofori, NPP MP for Asikuma Adoben Brakwa constituency for speaking so laud against governments’ intention to dispose off what he called the only “hen that lay the golden egg” [TOR]

“Evil exist because those who are supposed to talk are not talking and those who are supposed to act are not acting”

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