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Opinions of Sunday, 31 May 2015

Columnist: Damptey, Daniel Danquah

Kudos, Mr President, but inaugurate the Pharmacy Board.

Sequel to my write up titled “Constitute the Pharmacy Board now, Mr. President”, which was published on many web sites and some news papers, I would like to commend Mr. President for having a listening ear by re-constituting the Pharmacy Board.
But the prompt action he took could pale to insignificance if the new Board is not inaugurated. The Board as it stands now does not have the teeth and ammunition to bite or work with. Strike now when the iron is hot! Is that not what our elders tell us? What is holding back the inauguration, if I may ask?
My checks at various quarters have revealed some bureaucratic bottlenecks amongst top officials at the Ministry of Health. This has to do with recent reshuffle of Cabinet Ministers. Authoritative sources at the Ministry say that just as the new Board was about to be inaugurated, the then Minister of Health was changed and a new one appointed.
Herein lies the impasse, my sources told me.
In my previous article referred to in the early part of this write-up I asked whether there were no competent people to be appointed or Government was indecisive as a result of intensive lobbying by play makers in the industry. Fortunately, that stumbling block has been removed.
With the reconstitution of the Board, we thought God had answered the prayers of the play makers in the industry and that a Daniel had come to judgement. But our jubilation was cut short when many months after the Board was constituted, the inauguration is yet to see the light of the day.
What is delaying the inauguration, if I may ask? Is it that the new Minister wants to get his own people appointed to the Board? If this is not so, what is it?
I am deeply concerned because my nephew, a budding and enterprising entrepreneur has applied to go into that line of business. As a law abiding citizen, he doesn’t want to jump the gun by starting his business without first obtaining the licence to operate.
The inaction of Government through the substantive Minister of Health is making the pharmacy business unattractive to genuine businessmen and women who want to go into that line of business. Normally, it takes just about three months for one to obtain such licence. But my nephew has paid the required fee and been waiting since February 2014. If he had put such a colossal amount of money into his safe deposit account or bought some shares, one could imagine the amount of interest or dividends that would accrue to him.
The irony of the whole thing is that the money was borrowed from the bank at a very high interest rate. He rented shops and offices from shylock land lords. It was part of that loan he used to pay the annual renewal fee which ranges between GHC8, 000.00 and GHC10, 000.00 per annum.
In addition to tying down his capital through no fault of his, he is facing the burden of paying for the services of a qualified Pharmacist he has engaged since February, 2014.
Imagine the interest he has to pay at the end of each month and you cannot but agree that my nephew and others like him have had a raw deal at the hands of the regulatory board. In addition, his premises have been inspected by the Board. Should dereliction of duty on the part of the Regulatory Agency or Body be used to punish innocent victims whose only crime is to engage in genuine business? Why should the sins of the fathers be visited upon their innocent children?
This is injustice at its height! So pathetic, one might say.
It must be stressed that each day that is allowed to that pass without the inauguration of the Board rather puts financial strain on my nephew and other Ghanaians like him who have had their capital tie down in what has become a mesh. The more they attempt to extricate themselves from it, the more they get themselves further entangled in it. It has become something like “rufu rufu” fighting. There appears to be no headway.
It appears Government is overlooking the positive things that will accrue to the nation if it opens its door to these enterprising Ghanaians to engage in useful employment. We should not overlook the revenue that would be lost if the door is shut right down the faces of our youngsters.
We have our youth roaming the streets without any visible means of livelihood. And it is an acknowledged fact that the devil finds jobs for idle minds. We also know that Government alone cannot offer jobs to the ever growing population. Why let go such a good opportunity of giving solace to our youth who have no hope of what the future holds for them?

To our newly appointed Minister of Health, I am asking if he wants his name to be written in gold or prefers to be like a pupil who goes to school in the morning to answer “Present, Sir” and is heard no more. “Ye biribi” (do something) before the end of your tenure.

A mere inauguration of a Board that has been reconstituted should not be an obstacle to our forward moving march to our El-dorado. The yet to be inaugurated board should have the courage and courtesy to tell all those it has short changed how sorry it is! This will serve as a soothing balm to an otherwise severe pain.

In conclusion, I want to ask when the newly constituted Pharmacy Board is going to be inaugurated. Again, I pause for an answer!

Daniel Danquah Damptey. 0243715297 (