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Opinions of Tuesday, 12 February 2008

Columnist: Agbodza, Kwami

Liberal Free Market British High Commissioner’s Stole

The new British High Commissioner to Ghana, Dr Nicholas Westcott, after visiting Manhyia Palace and calling on the Electoral Commission (EC) through the Asantehene to conduct credible elections in December presumably for the protection of selfish British interest, is still on his economic mischievous rounds.

He has now visited Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Mr. Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu. This was in the General News of Thursday, 7 February 2008, ‘New British High Commissioner calls on Finance Minister’ on www.ghanaweb.

So Dr Westcott commended Ghana for the good progress made over the last 10 to 15 years, adding that, the rate at which the country had progressed had given confidence to investors. It is a pity Dr. Westcott’s investors are not interested in the three northern regions of Ghana. With the help of British support for free market liberalisation, the cotton industry there has completely collapsed. Indeed it is not clear that Dr. Westcott’s investors are remotely interested in developing Ghana for Ghanaians. But were they not here from 1844-1957 controlling our political policy?

And yet Dr. Westcott wants us to believe that the British government is suddenly interested in Ghana’s commitment to democracy and political process adding, "you have achieved these two and we are hoping that this year, being an election year, we hope it will be a success". Really, his reference to election year points to the concern of the British. They are more interested in British investments in Ghana than the fact that the Majority of Ghanaians live in poverty.

When did the British High Commission in Accra ever believe in our commitment to democracy? Britain is itself a Monarchy with an unelected Head of State; it currently has a Prime Minister who is also unelected. Was it not the same British High Commission that helped destroy Ghana? This is the British High Commission in 1961: ‘His [Nkrumah] knack of giving expression to the feelings of so many Africans, who are all the time rapidly becoming politically conscious, is exasperating…We shall be better off without him’ [British High Commission Sept. 1961]. Democracy and the political process exasperate the same British High Commission.

How does Dr Westcott expect us to believe his office pledge of the British government's support to the country and his statement that "we look forward to a fruitful relationship between the two countries". When has the relationship between Ghana and UK ever being fruitful for Ghana and the majority of Ghanaians?

But then it appears that the NPP Men of Substance led by Mr. Kwaku Agyemang-Manu MP, have no understanding of international political economy. Only recently, the team he led attended a conference in Switzerland in which they accepted and pledged support for WTO policies that will continue to impoverish and humiliate Ghana.

To complement that we are told Mr Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu called on the same WTO liberalisation-supporting British government to speed up the implementation of a 10-year partnership arrangement aimed at reducing poverty and meet the Millennium Development Goals by 2015. Do the British really think we believe that they are interested in reducing our poverty? In any case, who told the British that Ghanaians want their poverty reduced and not completely eliminated? Did a 1945 Congress held in Manchester, Britain not call for the complete eradication of our poverty through the social and economic reconstruction of Africa?

We are also told that the partnership, proposed by the former British Colonial Office now re-christened Department of International Development (DFID) have a tentative amount of 250 million pounds. It is to be run in three-year rolling commitments from 2008 to 2010.

Now anyone with a calculator should divide 250 million over, to be generous, 25 percent. You get 1,000,000,000 pounds. In other words, this gives us an idea of the kind of money the British alone are taking out of Ghana. No wonder Ghana's total debt stock stood at 7.1 billion dollars as at December 2007 according to Central Bank Governor Paul Acquah. This is the same Acquah who won an award because he was leading Central Banking with his unelected and anti-democratic vision.

Mr Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu commends the UK (he really commends the UK?) for being the first country to support the Ghana Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty. Let us not waste our time even finding out what this fraudulent programme is. The name alone gives away the game. It is part of free marketing to coin nice terms to hide the real agenda. Therefore, we know at once that it is actually Livelihood Empowerment for More Poverty to enable Ghanaians to continue to help the British to take out more money out of Ghana. Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty indeed! It is just another carefully crafted programme to re-channel money to the pockets of politicians and civil servants.

As for Mr Baah-Wiredu, we might want to know if he understands British politricks beyond his accounting speciality. We are told that he noted that Ghana has had a long-standing relationship with the United Kingdom and commended her support to Ghana in the area of development. This is most amazing. So he does not know that the British used to be the former colonial master of Ghana, was forced to hand over independence, handed it over for self government now at the time, and then turned round to join the US to anti-democratically usurp power? When did the British Government ever genuinely support Ghana’s development? Are they not openly air lifting our nurses to the UK when they know it is against our development? Are they not milking Ghanaians of VISA fees, which is just official visa racketeering?

Where was the British Government when the NDC destroyed our education system and the majority of our children reduced to JSS illiterates? And yet we are told that United Kingdom through DFID had promoted education by providing a 10-year education sector strategic plan grant of 10 million pounds annually from 2006 to 2015. He said the funds for 2006 and 2007 have been released by the Crown Agent Bank adding, "the funds have assisted in the provision of supplementary readers as well as in-service training for teachers to upgrade their skills".

So after 50 years of national independence the British government is co-financing the Land Administration Project, which aims at streamlining customary land administration to enhance national development. In addition to the above, the DFID Muti Donor Budgetary Support ensured an inflow of a mere 120 million pounds (in the UK 50 billion pounds for Northern Rock alone) received from 2006 to 2008. Thus the British Government through DFID continues to target and destroy our sense of national adulthood and prolong our developmental regression?

As in the colonial days when Britain ensured that the political policy of the Colonial State was directed at her sole interest, the UK is developmentally regressing key raw material and labour institutions in the Ghanaian economy. They include the Ministries of Food and Agriculture (so we are never self-sufficient in food production such as rice), Public Sector Reform (so constitutional state intervention is destroyed), Lands Forestry and Mines, Manpower (to ensure our timber and minerals and educated people continue to be sent to the UK). Others include Youth and Employment (to ensure for the British enough Ghanaian cooks, gardeners and watchmen. For Ghanaians ample water, dog chain sellers and enough Kayayei to keep them happy), Trade and Industry (to ensure continued liberalisation of the Ghanaian economy and destruction of any Ghanaian industry that can and might compete internationally with say Cadbury). Finally they are also regressing Office of Government Machinery (to ensure Government does not obey Chapter 6: Directive Principles of State Policy of our constitution).

In all these areas the British government through DFID continues to support developmentally regressive projects all aiming not at eliminating our poverty but simply reducing poverty at the most minimal level and thus ensuring Ghana’s underdevelopment.

For these anti-Ghana policies, Mr Baah-Wiredu was so grateful that he expressed the Ghana Government's utmost appreciation for their support and urged them to deepen their relationship and pledged that the monies provided for projects would be used wisely for the intended purpose. He had to add the last sentence in case the British doubted they had common interests and to assure the British they would not misapply or misuse the money. That remains to be seen.

In order to leave us in no doubt, Professor George Baffuor-Gyan, who we are told is the Deputy Minister of Finance said the main two pillars of development were investment and democracy, which the government was committed to. This is extraordinary!

If Ghana is really committed to investment and democracy why is it destroying Ghanaian industry (e.g. Cotton industry) by over-liberalising the economy, withdrawing support and funding, lifting tariffs on key anti-development products, throwing businesses out of competition and plunging Ghanaians into debt?

Was Professor George Baffuor-Gyan misleading himself when he added that Ghana could only thrive if government invested in the people and infrastructure and commended the British government for their assistance to Ghana in these areas. The Professor like many of our Free Market Intellectual leaders either does not understand that Livelihood Empowerment for More Poverty and British Government regressive developmental projects are no assistance to Ghana or he is a liar.

Instead of better spending our money on the poor, The Minister of Finance presented a kente stole to welcome the new British High Commissioner to Ghana, obviously to continue our impoverishment and humiliation, where the former left off.

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