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Opinions of Wednesday, 21 September 2005

Columnist: Ampofo, Ofori

Ghana?s Prorities, Where Do We Stand As A Nation

On September 5th 2005, I wrote an article posted captioned Ghana?s over-reliance on foreign loans. In that article, I made reference to the 30 millions Export and Import (Exim) bank of India loan to build a presidential house or renovate Peduase Lodge or the Flag staff house. I made it clear that, building a presidential house is not a priority over the reconstruction of the Accra -Kumasi highway into a dual carriage, arguing my reason being an oncoming saloon car that had collided and killed three out of the nations seven Urologists on that single lane Highway.

I suggested the president should cause the re-negotiation of the said loan and re-direct it to begin a dual carriage Accra- Kumasi highway, in honor of one of the three prominent and dedicated doctors. I even promised a token (5,000) five thousand dollars to top up the 30 million dollars in support and was my conviction that many such contributions will be forth coming, from concerned Ghanaians who think the country should move forward in our national development aspirations, if the president should heed the suggestion.

The secretary of Ghana leadership union Mr. Okyere Bonna on September 9th 2005 came out with an article on the Ghana web in support of my article. Titled ?30 million dollars for a presidential house? Where is our priority?

The writer advised that the government should seize the opportunity as a result of my offer of (5,000) five thousand dollars, and create a road construction fund and solicit funds from all and sundry for rebuilding our major highways into dual carriage roads. He Lamented, Others may be moved to follow Mr. Ofori Ampofo?s example. Who knows? He asked.

Yes I would like to promise the writer and the whole country that I still stand by my pledge. I did that to motivate people and I am proud to report that four concerned Ghanaians out of many that have written to me, pledging funds, now totaling 15 thousand dollars in support of my pledge; If the government should decide to redirect the 30 million dollars Peduase lodge rehabilitation loan, into a dual carriage reconstruction of the Accra-Kumasi highway. It is now up to the government to decide on what they consider as the nations priority; and many such pledges will definitely follow.

It has now been officially announced by the minister of works and housing Mr. Hackman Owusu Agymang during a recent visit with newsmen to the Peduase lodge that the contract of 129 billion cedis, has been awarded to a Chinese building contracting firm and work is expected to begin in November this year.

Fellow Ghanaians, why did successive governments after 1966, overlook everything belonging to Ghana go down in the drain? Why should renovation works on an existing facility cost the nation a hundred and twenty-nine billion cedis? Take a look at Kumasi city hotel and Tema Meridian hotel. Take a look at Ambassador Hotel and what happened to the Black Star line? What happened to all the Ghana industrial holding corporations that employed our people? And let us look at what has happened to the Ghana Airways. These are all sad reflections on the past glory of our dear country.

Every living politician who amassed illegal wealth since 1966 should be brought to questioning and answers forum. The heinous crimes they have committed against our country to the state of its conditions today. Ghanaians are very smart people but sometimes I ask myself, why haven?t we been blessed with sincere and selfless many as we are lucky to have been blessed with intellectual many? The NPP government should be equally blamed for the mess because most of them in government today, including the president have all been involved in government one time or the other since 1966.

The NPP has directly been in government five years now, and despite all the intellectual parade at the corridors of power, we don?t seem to be doing the best for the people. Why should we as a country spend 129 billion cedis to renovate a presidential lodge; When there is the confession by the minister of education Mr. Yaw Osafo Marfo that about seven million people representing 47 percent of our population can not read and write. Is there any real need to rush to renovate the presidential lodge? Why can?t the contract be awarded to Ghanaian contractors in phases, spread over say five years plan? Why do we prioritize a presidential lodge over the construction of a dual carriage road from Accra to Kumasi or otherwise. Why do we have to prioritize a presidential lodge over the health sector when most of our hospitals have been turned into graveyards with no modern health equipments to diagnose simple diseases? Why do we have to prioritize a presidential lodge over the agricultural sector, when young boys and girls roam aimlessly on our streets looking for something to do? Why can?t we plan productive settlement farms for these unfortunate folks showing them the real dignity in labor while at the same time their toils feed the nation? If you invest in these idle hands, their sweat and toil will eventually go to renovate the presidential lodge over a period of time. Congo is using 13 million dollars out of a similar Export and Import (Exim) bank of India line of credit to establish cement factory. Fellow countrymen if 13 million dollars can establish a cement factory in Congo why can?t we consider establishing a cement factory to give jobs to our people and kill the cement monopoly by the Tema cement works; Instead of renovating the presidential lodge for the astonishing figure of 129 billion cedis. Why can?t we renovate the Jute and Shoe factories in Kumasi to give jobs to our people who will pay Taxes to increase Government revenue? DO WE NEED THE IMF TO TELL US TO DO THIS? WHY? OH WHY? INDEPENDENT GHANA.

GHANA TO END DEPENDENCY ON IMF.

Following my article on Ghana?s over-reliance on foreign loans, President J.A Kufour three days later, announced that Ghana was to end dependency on the IMF. I considered that statement as a face-saving ploy, but again, to make a final judgment, I think we should wait for the next budget indicators as he promised. Read what Ghana?s IMF staff report analysis on Ghana web indicate and start pondering (read).

The president?s announcement came when the IMF executive director for Ghana Mr. Abbas Mirakhor paid a courtesy call on him at the castle. The president praised Dr. Abass for his assistance to Ghana and attributed the revamping of the economy, reducing poverty and improving the general well being of Ghanaians to him. As expected Dr. Abbas also praised the government for maintaining fiscal discipline and courageous structural reforms. Dr. Abbas said, Ghana lost two billion dollars through under pricing of petroleum since 1985 and said that money could have been used to support other critical sectors of the economy like education and health care. Praising deregulation of the petroleum sector, Dr. Abbas further stated that contrary to some Ghanaian perception poverty had gone down by 7 to 8 percent and that it is still on the decline. How did we achieve this Dr. Abbas? Relying on borrowed money?

It should not surprise anybody for Dr. Abbas?s praises on the government because it was his duty as ambassador of the IMF to let the world believe that loans from the IMF had brought Ghanaians out of poverty. If Dr. Abbas knows the amount of waste and unnecessary privileges enjoyed by the top government functionaries since 1985, he would probably come to realize that is was not an accident subsidizing petrol as a relief to the people. Dr. Abbas knows only results on paper and not practical relations as to how the economic barometer reflects on the people on the streets and in their homes. If he looks at the affluent life styles at the top, then he is 100 percent right. However the true measure of success of the economy should be tied to the ability of the ordinary people of Ghana to afford to pay schools fees, hospital bills, electricity, water, transportation, food, and rent etc. These are tough times for the average Ghanaians, who are dying daylily in real pain and sorrow. So how is Dr. Abbas measuring the success of his economic prescriptions?

I have said it in one of my articles, (13.500) Thirteen thousand five hundred Cedis Minimum Wage, How will you classify it? That if the yard sticks by which poor Ghanaians will measure the success of each government does not show any difference at determining the welfare of the people, then, I am sorry. In practical sense I wrote; if we build all first class roads with flyovers everywhere and build the worlds best airports and harbors etc. as long as the cost of living, (food, rent, transportation and utilities) goes on skyrocketing the suffering Ghanaian at the bottom of the ladder will never praise the government by any measurement.

The level of poverty reduction, measured by Dr. Abbas the outgoing IMF director for Ghana is not seen or felt by any measure at the bottom of the ladder. The government must therefore see and feel the suffering of those that voted them into power and prioritize the needs of the country and bring some relief to the poor, disadvantaged and marginalized people of Ghana, who have tightened their belts for far too long. They can no longer sustain further tightening. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH; GREEDY POLITICIANS.

FELLOW COUNYRYMEN, If Dr. Kwame Nkrumah preferred and demanded self government now; fifty years ago, I prefer at this age of our self governance, to demand total economic freedom for our people now. Therefore let us prioritize our needs and save Ghana now and let our people have ECONOMIC FREEDOM.

God Bless Our Homeland and Our People

Ofori Ampofo, (Save Ghana Now Association) Want to save Ghana? Visit our Web. www.saveghana.org and register as a member. We are A Non Political Association, Looking to Save Ghana from Poverty, Disease and Hunger. We Understand Nothing But The Truth. Together we can make a difference.

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