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Opinions of Monday, 29 August 2005

Columnist: Adomako, Appiah Kusi

Golden Age Of Business And The Collapse Of Local Industries

Some few years ago some major companies in the United States eg Enron collapsed under the weight of poor accounting practices. So we can blame the management for the collapse of such industries. When it comes to Ghana the blame is corporately owned-the president and the people of Ghana we all have an equal share in the collapse of local industries.

Collapses of industries in Ghana is as old as the earliest history books and contemporary as the morning?s newspapers. Most of the state-owned enterprise (SOE) set up by Dr Kwame Nkrumah started collapsing. after 1966 till today. Not only SOE?s are collapsing but also privately owned enterprises have also collapsed.

Ghanaians were relieved when the president at the time of his first inaugural address said that there would be ?golden age of business?. Less than fours years after this proclamation was made Ghanaian companies are folding up from the pressures of cheap imports from Asia. Punitive taxes put to deter people from bringing poultry products into the country have been slashed causing the local poultry farmers to suffocate. Day by day you hear poultry farmers saying that they do not believe in the principle of going concern in business. They cannot see the future of their businesses.

It is not only the poultry factories that are folding up but also textile factories-Akosombo and Juapong.

The solution to this problem can be expressed in one word called DOMESTICATION. One does not need an extensive vocabulary for understanding. To most Ghanaians we have taken the concept of domestication literally as just as synonym for Dan Lartey. In modern Ghanaian politics Dan Lartey holds the trademark of the concept of domestication.

When Arthur Lewis wrote his famous report on industrialization in the Gold Coast in 1953 he enunciated a very important principle, namely the principle of import substitution as the cornerstone to our economic development. Subsequently he drew repeated attention to the importance of agriculture as the basis for the country?s economic development in terms of what it could do to provide for the people and of what it could do to provide raw materials for the industries.

Now the time has come for us as nation is to see the concept of domestication as part of the solution to our national problem. For more than four decades we have relied and depended on foreign goods and donor funds to survive. Now after nearly fifty years of existence we have reached our menopause stage and we should be able to depend on ourselves for survival. In biological terms when a woman reaches her menopause it is believed that the woman has set her house and things in order. If we want to get to somewhere we must produce what we want and use what we produce. The buy Made in Ghana goods campaign must be sustained. Thank God that nowadays every Friday we wear locally made fabric to work and other places. The Ghana Education Service must allow secondary schools to wear a customized traditional wear on Thursdays and Fridays. This will add lifeline to our ailing textiles and garment factories. I can imagine Dr. Kwame Nkrumah looking at us and asking what you done to all these companies which I established?

Go to Tema Habour or AFGO and have a look at things which are imported into the country. You will see something like toothpick, toilet roll, used underwears, used plates and cups, chalk, pencils, matches, used tyres, used combs and coffin. The white man will not eat our cassava unless he is using it for pharmaceutical purposes. We should appreciate all that God has given to us a nation and use it. Today our tastes for foreign products have outdistanced the local ones. This has even caused our shoemakers when they manufacture good shoes they have to label it MADE IN ITALY fearing that should it be labeled as MADE IN GHANA it would not get the needed market. When it comes to rice is worse. It is believed that we our annual rice import is more than US$100million which far exceeds budgetary allocation to the Ministry of Food and Agriculture.

When the campaign was made for us to buy and patronize made in Ghana rice it would surprise you that when you visit the storeroom of the government official holding the trump card you will find shades of imported rice from Sultana to Chicago Star. The reason why government has not been acting well enough to save our local industries is that because the party chairman of the ruling party or any influential party contributor is importing rice, poultry products and other goods from somewhere so should the government move in to prevent importation of goods that can be produced here in Ghana the man?s contributions to the party would not be forthcoming. This is where we are after almost 50 years of self-governance. So we have maximized our selfish interest and minimized national interest.

When Major Courage Quashiga was then Minister for Food and Agriculture he did all humanly possible to make the local rice a competitive alternative to the imported rice. Today the campaign has died down. Because??.?

Even chalks which can be manufactured in the country we prefer it to be imported from China or Far East. The reason is that a minister will be getting something from the importer.

Appiah Kusi Adomako is an educationist, freelance writer and the president of the Ghana Chapter of Leaders of Tomorrow Foundation. He can be contacted through:
Leaders of Tomorrow Foundation, P.O. BOX. KS 13640. Kumasi. Tel 027-740-2467; www.interconection.org/lotfound


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