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Opinions of Saturday, 4 October 2008

Columnist: Kusi, Duncan

Ghana's Economy As At Today

When one begins to talk about Ghana's economy , some of us ignore it but others try to listen carefully then, compare the past and present and draw their conclusions .

The reason why I am writing this article is that many Ghanaians do not know how our previous economy was and where we have reached, especially; the youth but after reading this article, they would know either we are progressing or retrogressing.

In 1981, before PNDC coup d'etat that overthrew Dr Limann's government, the exchange rate for US$ 1.00 was ( 2.75ps old cedis) and the mininum wage was also equivalent to $4.25.

During the same period Ghana had more than three hundred (300) state-owned enterprises and they were functioning.

There were companies like the GIHOC, GNTC, FOOD DISTRIBUTION CORPORATION, STATE FISHING CORPORATION, STATE HOUSING CORPORATION, TEMA STEEL WORKS, AKOSOMBO TEXTILES, MEAT MARKETING BOARD, TEMA FOOD COMPLEX, KADE MATCHES FACTORY, KOMENDA AND ASUTUARE SUGAR FACTORIES, ABOSSO GLASS FACTORY BONSA TYRES, GHANA SHIPPING LINE (BLACK STAR LINE), GHACEM and others.

The GIHOC had many divisions and some of the divisions were the Nsawam cannery, Atonsu shoe factory kumasi, Gihoc pharmaceutical Accra, Wenchi Tomato factory, Tema steel works and others.

The companies were established by the first president of Ghana, Dr Nkrumah with the aim to make Ghana a self-sufficient country.

Moreover, the companies were not functioning as they supposed to be because of corruption, so when Rawlings and his armed forces overthrew Limann's government, they started running them smoothly.Ghanaians hailed Rawlings and named him Junior Jesus.

Products from the industries were sold by GNTC at control prices, and the GNTCs were found everywhere within country.

In 1989, I was working in one of our rural banks as a clerk. My salary was 10,400.00 old cedis but the exchange rate for US$ 1.00 was 300.00 old cedis, that means my salary was equivalent to US$ 34.60 a month. In fact I cannot remember the minimum wage at that period, but it would not be anything aboved US$ 1.00.

There was a system called SPECIAL PACKAGE DEAL FOR FARMERS. The aim of that system was to sell the state-owned enterprise products to farmers in villages where GNTC shops were not found there.

Our bank was receiving direct supply of the goods from GNTC head office. The goods were comprising cements, farming boots, machetes, lanterns, ATL clothes, roofing sheets, radios and others.

I can remember, a full piece of ATL cloth was sold at 7,000.00 old cedis while my salary was 10,400.00 old cedis. Unfortunately all these industries collapsed between 1990 and 1999.

P/NDC government began to divest the companies because of corruption and mismanagement, but none was held responsible. Some of the divested companies were turned into warehouses and others to churches because some of the buyers were not financially sound to refurbish the companies.

In 1999, I was not in the bank but where I was doing attachment, the Manager was receiving 570,000.00 old cedis and the exchange rate for US$ 1.00 was 7000.00 old cedis.

That also means the manager's salary was equivalent to US$ 81.00 and the minimum wage was reduced to US$ 0.58 cents. That sector was depending on government subventions.

Today, the minimum wage stands at GHC 2.25 new cedis which, is equivalent to US$ 2.00.

Readers can bear with me that as at today, no rural bank clerk is receiving a monthly salary which is equivalent to US$ 60.00. It would be higher than that. If it is true, then where do we draw the line?

Now, we can compare and contrast the past and present economies. The question is, "are we retrogressing or progressing"?

I can even stress that we are in the middle of the journey to where we were when the mininum wage was equivalent to US$ 4.25 cents.

When P/NDC toppled Limann's government, the minimum wage which was equivalent to US$ 4.25 cents dropped to US$ 0.58 cents before NPP government took over in 2001. NPP government has raised it up from US$ 0.58 cents to US$ 2.00, so we are progressing.

My advise to all Ghanaians is that we should not allow anyone to convince us that we are retrogressing. P/NDC government collapsed Ghana's economy and we are now on the track to the promise land.

They know that the economy is on the right track that is why they are not happy at all. All the noise they are making, it is because the economy has taken a new shape.

I am very optimistic that when NPP government continues to rule for the next eight years the minimum wage would exceed US$ 6.00, so let us continue moving forward.

God bless our homeland Ghana, Amen.

duncan kusi