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Opinions of Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Columnist: Baafi, Alex Bossman

Hope In The Coming Of NPP Government In 2012

Alex Bossman Baafi

It is really true that “Time and Tide Wait for No Man”. All too soon 2010 is fast ending. On January 7 2011, the ruling NDC government will celebrate its two years in office. Two years in office still without a vision or programme as to how the “Better Ghana Agenda” would be attained. Many well-meaning people of this country find it notoriously difficult to see what Mill-Mahamma Administration is about to do. It is difficult to pinpoint a well thought-out policy direction of the government that intends to leave a legacy that will remain vividly fresh in the minds of the people. In my opinion, lack of vision or programme had made this NDC government to engage in a “Hit or Miss” affair.

Because this government failed to communicate its vision and direction when it took office, it woefully failed to lay the necessary foundation and the roadmap to guide and carry the government from what they inherited from the NPP Administration to where the NDC government is going, that is, the land of better Ghana. Because the government had no vision, it failed to assemble a competent team to deliver the government programme. The performance of the government had been labeled in many ways such as Team B, Mediocre, Go Slow and Do Little to mention but a few by certain opinion leaders in the country. Indeed a sizeable number of the team members I mean, District and Metropolitan Chief Executives (DCEs and MCEs) have been violently chased out of their offices by the “Almighty Foot soldiers” of the NDC with impunity for lack of performance.

Many well-meaning people of this country lost hope in this Mill-led Administration after the presentation of the 2011 budget last month by the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning in that it failed to address the well-being of the vast majority of the people in this country. The budget was bankrupt of many initiatives including clear means of creating jobs for the teaming jobless masses that banked their hopes of getting jobs during the beginning of the third year of this administration. The government had been able to articulate its stabilization drive very well. Some of us have not been amused in any way about the fact that we have a single digit inflation of 9.38% with its corresponding prime rate of 13.5% because this is artificially created and not driven by market forces. It is therefore on steroids and therefore not sustainable in the long term. This is because the government failed to spend. The government now owes about 20% of the non-performing loans in the entire banking sector of the country. This government has many arrears to clear concerning the Single Spine Salary Structure to many public sector workers. All these and other statutory payments will undoubtedly pose a challenge to the government’s stability agenda achieved at the expense of economic growth.
Many have lost hope because the 2011 budget emphasized only on the excessive taxation drive of the government that claims to be social democrat. The economic conditions for many are unbearable in this country because of the policies of this government. The budget has economic growth rate of 12.3% by the end of 2011. I wonder how such ambitious target could be achieved with this counterproductive taxation policy such as the one spelt out in the budget in place. Much as I subscribe to the view that economic growth could be achieved through employment of taxation, I do equally share the worry that excessive taxation as the one engaged in by this NDC government could lead to declining prices which will eventually lead to a fall in company profits, savings, investments, employment and hence economic growth and development. Under this government fuel prices had gone up by 45%. Tariffs on food imports including rice, fish and poultry products went up above 25%. Roads and Bridges tolls were astronomically increased averaging 1,500% in February this year. Fruits and Alcoholic beverages including Akpeteshie, the local gin, went up by 20%. Electricity and Water have gone up considerably ranging between 89% and 42% respectively. In addition to all these, Environmental tax on plastic production of 20% takes off next month same as other taxes including withholding tax.

This Mills- Mahamah Administration had not shown any new initiative apart from the so-called free school uniforms and exercise books which are said to benefit insignificant number of school pupils in few selected districts. The budget in sum provided no hope. The main emphases were on Oil revenue of the newfound oil whose bill had not been debated in full in parliament. The other aspect was on the intended agreement to raise more loans from China. Therefore, in the absence of loans from China and the estimated revenue from our newfound oil, this NDC government had nothing new to offer the good people of this country.

Another profound reason why many had missed the NPP Administrations was the ability of the former government to think outside the box to initiate programmes and go a long way to secure funding for them without necessarily relying on loans. Examples included the school feeding programme that has now become a source of livelihood for many NDC sympathizers. We were all witnesses of how the NDC government went all out to use arm-twisting tactics to abrogate all school feeding contracts of the perceived NPP supported and appointed NDC faithful as soon as they took over from the previous administration. Initiatives like the Millennium Challenge Account and the Free Maternal Care were some of the landmark achievements of the NPP Administration. These were not based on loans and we need more of such initiatives.

Within these two years in office, many discerning people could sense massive corruption in certain sectors of the economy with the government seen not to be concerned at all. Clear cases abound in Ministry of Youth and Sports regarding profligate spending during the World Cup in South Africa, allegations involving large sums of monies spent on hampers for certain Journalists and what have you. Other hot issues that are causing debate among consultants, academics, economists, politicians and concerned opinion leaders are the Government - STX housing deal and the collateralization of oil revenue for foreign loans for Infrastructural and economic development. The behaviour of certain leading members of NDC government including the Vice President moving heaven and earth to collaterize the oil revenues speak volumes that NDC as a party and as a government has many credibility problems. Corruption is endemic in this government with the president unable to take any action to the profound surprise of many. With many people, becoming worse off under this Mills-led Administration through joblessness, homelessness, poverty and underdevelopment they feel the situation is becoming hopeless. The president has not been able to communicate any compelling reason that will instill hope in the ordinary people who wallow in abject poverty. He has banked all his hopes on Chinese loans, oil revenues and excessive taxation as if without these nothing could happen and a clear indication that his government came into office without a vision.

Again, this government is full of arrogant officials who rain insults at the least opportunity on those who disagree with them. It is noted to spin propaganda instead of truth, it has a catalogue of many unfulfilled promises which is why many has lost hope and therefore looking up to the NPP to come and change the destiny of this country for the better so come 2012 their dreams will be fulfilled Insha Allah.

Email: abkbossman@yahoo.co.uk