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Opinions of Friday, 13 April 2018

Columnist: Andrews Bempah

Ghana looks in the mirror

The steady growth of Ghana, will hinge on rapid agriculture modernization and infrastructure development. Infrastructure projects of roads and highways are essential to speed movement of humans and goods. For example,the flight distance between konongo and obuasi,according to Google map,is 42miles.Since no road or highway linking these two major towns in the Ashanti region.Sixty one years after independence, the 42miles distance takes almost two and half hours driving time, due to long detour. Drivers make to get to destination.

Foreign investments in Ghana, must largely be in agriculture. Construction of canals to carry water to potential farming areas and also for transportation. Corporate farms be encouraged to create job opportunities for Ghanaians,who want to farm but lack resources to acquire farm lands and necessary equipments.The United States a superpower nation,exports beef and poultry to Japan and import electronics and others from Japan.What prevents Ghana from taking our advantage in producing say pineapples at relatively lower cost,export to Europe and import tractors to start serious road and highway constructions in Ghana?In1973 before OPEC,a barrel of crude oil was 3dollars,within a decade after OPEC a barrel jumped to 30dollars.The very few crude oil exporting Africa nations hugely benefited.However,non oil producing Africa nations,including Ghana economies suffocated,since they had to use significant portion of their foreign exchange on crude oil imports.Most of the 68 state owned factories credited to Nkrumah administration collapsed as result of insufficient foreign exchange to make imports to keep them afloat.

Multinational corporations create jobs.

President Nkrumah despised them because he was for government controlled economy and his goal to be president for life in his so called republic of Ghana.

A republic country,unlike monarchy is where citizens have freedom to elect a president and their representatives in parliament,so it baffles me why the first president of Ghana chose to declare himself president for life in a republic,thereby denying Ghanaians possibility to vote for president of their choice.

No system is perfect.Capitalism is no exception,however no one can deny the fact that majority of modern times technologies and life saving medicines,we take for granted today, originated in free market capitalist countries.

Next time you think,capitalism is bad try the Olympics games without prizes of gold,silver and bronze medals at stake and see how exciting the games will be.

The man l respect for his honesty is the last president of the former Soviet union,Mr Gorbachev,Upon assuming power,he had every chance to be president for life,lf he had pursued lies and inhumane atrocities his predecessors unleashed on dissidents and opponents to stay in power.However,he saw a failing system and put his job security on the line to effect a change.Of course he was removed from office.

Economically,Ghana is enslaved to the western world,because sixty one years after independence Ghana continue to import beef and rice from other countries and still has the mentality of depending on exports of it natural resources.Meanwhile,Ghana is endowed with vast land and human resources waiting to be exploited.

Australia a nation with one of the highest standards of living in the world,l believe can be industrial nation like Japan,but strategically resorted to tapping their vast land resources and focusing largely on agriculture.

I am not against factories in Ghana,but l believe government must first facilitate our ability to produce most of our food domestically.

Then revenues from exports of our natural resources can largely be focused on infrastructure developments,not on imported food such as rice and beef and significant economic growth will follow.

The Chinese,before United States president Nixon 1972 official visit,were able to close their country to the western world for 28 years,simply because they were able to feed themselves and the working class apparently happy riding bicycles and not automobiles imported from the west.

Post colonial governments in Ghana,even though the country has woefully inadequate road and highway network,would rather facilitate automobile assembly plant,instead of bringing in experts to help facilitate revolution in agriculture to boost output and make food prices affordable to workers.

Creating employment opportunities in clean factories,bank clerks and hiring more soldiers,providing them with shinning uniforms and boots is not bad,but the downside is that,the average Ghanaian worker hardly afford a pound of beef for dinner.

The cattle industry,can be refined by the government by granting legal monopolies to two or three corporations to own and operate cattle ranches across the country.

I prefer publicly held corporation over government controlled corporation,simply because directors and management, typically owned major investments in the corporation and therefore work very hard to meet or beat budget.

If there was a hypothetically publicly traded company,Ghana cattle corporation,paying employees living wages and providing them uniforms and boots.
The company would attract workers and soon Ghana could become self-sufficient in beef production.

In the United States,electric utilities and other companies enjoying legal monopolies,had to get government permission before price hikes on consumers and in most cases obliged to make fair returns on their investments.

Likewise,Ghana government can mandate companies that will enjoy legal monopolies to pay workers living wages.

Such a move will begin to form the backbone of all important middle class chain which is missing in the Ghanaian society.It will be like the automobile assembly plant workers,who were important part of the United States middle class in the twentieth century.

No economy with significant informal sector and high unemployment can see consistent substantial growth.It's against this background,that I believe it's important to transform the traditional open markets of numerous petty traders into supermarkets.Again,government should grant legal monopolies to ten supermarket corporations,with each serving one region.The government also can intervene by buying long term bonds of the corporations,if they can't sell enough stocks for the business to take off.

Iarge supermarket corporations,across the country and listed on the Ghana stock exchange,would be easily identified to withhold income taxes from employees paychecks for the government.

In the Washington DC metropolitan area two large hardware corporations,listed on the New York stock exchange, dominate the retail market.

Government can obtain information from these corporations to make reported gross domestic production close to reality,and sound policies can be made based on the reliable information obtained from the corporations.

In addition more jobs will be available in the private sector,and future governments wouldn't need 110 cabinet positions.

The United States under first president George Washington,started with four cabinet positions and more than two hundred years later has grown to fifteen.

The reason is that,there are more large publicly traded companies, providing more jobs in the private sector,deducting income taxes from employees paychecks for the government,which enables the government to provide citizens with infrastructure projects without borrowing from the world bank or IMF.

In order to reduce or eliminate borrowing syndrome,Ghana government must take steps to significantly boost the size of publicly traded companies on the Ghana stock exchange.
The government can make this happen,by buying long term bonds or especially cumulative preference stocks of emerging new businesses.

As the new businesses matured,the government should sell it preference stocks,and use the proceeds to invest in more new emerging businesses with good plan and serious management staff.

As this is done,the unemployment rate will significantly shrink,and there will be fewer lost production.

These new companies and their employees will pay income taxes to the government and the government will have more internally generated revenues to pay bureaucrats salaries and capital projects,with less or no borrowing from the world bank or IMF.

Economic conditions will improve significantly,and the whole world would know that,the West was not the problem but high unemployment and lost productivity was the one killing Ghana and Africa.

Sports is very big business in the United States,but up to now the United States doesn't have cabinet position for sports.

Ghana has ministry of sports,l believe since independence.

The United States like Ghana gained independence from Britain,judges and lawyers don't wear wigs.but in Ghana judges and lawyers still maintain the colonial legacy of wearing wigs while the country is sinking before their eyes.In this modern time,In order to be justified in exercising unemployed criminals prosecution.Ghana government must identify unemployed Ghanaians and established a program to provide them food for about three months while they look for jobs.To be blunt here,every able Ghanaian must have job with very good governance.Ghana is underdeveloped,we have very limited infrastructure which would required more workers to build more.
The United States,in my opinion,upon independence went straight to work very hard,shunning unnecessary pretences and imitations and focusing on the fundamentals.If Ghana government can

Provide unemployed Ghanaians with food and put a stop to bureaucrats embezzlement of tax revenues and use it for infrastructure projects.Tax evasion will reduce,more revenues will be available in government treasury and outsiders will begin to see Ghana as a serious country,not merely for show.

PresidentTrump,I believe referred to Africa as shithole not because we don't have big cities with skyscrapers reaching the skies,but that we occupy a huge continent with vast arable agriculture land and we are net importer of food which has culminated in non stop alarming migration of Africans to his country.

In my first article,I shared my United States citizenship, to share with the world that,the population of the much despised United States is an embodiment of the whole world.For very long time,the United States has a policy of allowing individuals from different backgrounds and skills into their country to complement their efforts to grow their economy.

My hope is that Ghana and the rest of the world emulate that policy.

Hopefully,by emulating that policy every nation would become productive,not merely depending on export of their natural resources while able young men and women walk on streets unemployed, and the apparent poor nation's jealousy of the rich would be a thing of the past.

The underlying root cause of Africa's economic problems,is almost all of Africa's founding fathers becoming dictators and had absolute power to do to national treasury whatever satisfied their desires.

British prime minister,Winston Churchill having successfully derailed Hitler's attempt to invade his country,after the war lost election and relinquished power.Africa founding fathers who led our independence struggled, hanged on to power irrespective of whether they knew what they were doing or not.

One more reason,America is great is that,the Congress even though is packed with smart men and women,yet before they vote on a bill,they usually invite outside experts,pros and cons,listen to their opinions before voting.

Contrast with Africa,where after independence,it's usually one strong man who abused power with no tolerance for opposing views and dictated for the whole country.what do you expect?

Former Secretary general of the United nations,Mr kofi Annan in his article made reference to a report that,just eight men have the same wealth as half the world.

The eight men,didn't steal from their government or use their high positions in government to amass wealth.

What deserves ultimate condemnation,is individuals in Africa who come to power,some through military coup,penniless and becoming famous and millionaires without creating anything of value.

In the early years of Ghana independence,when the country was swimming in a pool of cash as a result of cocoa money,some prestigious projects got funding at the expense of substantive ones.

Similarly today, Ghana,so called agricultural economy, is importing six hundred million dollars of rice annually.

The Chinese number one producers and suppliers of rice,are in Ghana known doing illegal mining,instead of the government in collaboration with them to make Ghana at least self relying in rice production.The priority of the government is spending over a billion dollars on marine drive project.I can bet every one that when the project completed it's going to be a new spot for the elites,who are overly furious president Trump referring to Africa as shithole,to entertain themselves.Ghana government must be reminded that,in the early years of United States growth,Miami beach and other beaches were not develop first to attract tourists,but the focused was building strong agriculture foundation and infrastructure developments across the country.

Imagine,Ghana doesn't spend six hundred million dollars on rice importation,more heavy earth moving equipments could be imported for more roads construction and tons of jobs would be created.

The elites,typically,point out that Africans against their will were taken to work hard on farms to make America prosperous.The paradox is that,today Ghana government is still totally incapacitated to create strategies to put jobs growth in overdrive,hence the unemployed are forced to flee the country to work in foreign lands.

In order to accelerate infrastructure development,I like to use this platform suggest Ghana becoming a federal state,with state governments granted taxing authority to raise funds to pay for infrastructure developments.State governors also be able to travel abroad to entice private companies to invest in their state.

In the United States,federal government largest source of revenue is income taxes,state governments fund their budgets with income taxes and sales taxes,city and county governments rely on income taxes,sales taxes and annual taxes on land,houses and cars.In addition to state police,city and county governments have their own police departments and schools.The beauty of the federal system is that well managed state,city and county governments enjoy the benefit of borrowing at lower interest rate.Furthermore,well managed state governments typically have lower tax burdens and attract more businesses and citizens.Since no government wants to borrow at higher interest rate and also lose businesses and population,every government in the federal system strives to be the best.The competition among the governments is healthy for the general welfare of the country.It's worth noting that Ghana government must take critical look at the federal system instead of creating new regions.

Finally,my call for opening up Africa to all,including Europeans to become citizens shouldn't alarm the elites.When Europeans first set foot on the shores of Africa,there were knowledgeable men and women,but lacking western education and the Europeans,like Africans of today ruling with their western education, were able to use their western education to rule them.Today,the difference is that we have tons of Africans with western education and their coming back is to fill the vacuum in the areas we are lacking,and I envision Africa becoming like the USA soon,strong and prosperous made possible by God and contributions from immigrants around the world.Having had the privilege to live in the United States,contrary to what the elites want the rest of the world to believe, I can boldly state that it's not United States polices toward Ghana or Africa,that have enriched few and caused the overwhelming majority to live in abject poverty.But misplaced priorities of post colonial governments and officials corruption are to be held accountable.

I can't in anyway underestimate the hard work of the Japanese and South Koreans,but these two nations cannot deny United States contributions toward their huge economic success story.