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Opinions of Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Columnist: Agbodza, Kwami

More Free Market Lies on Ghana's Economic Performance

In the Business News of Tuesday, 5 February 2008 the World Trade Organisation, which is the enemy of Ghana and Africa’s industrial development, praised Ghana for its Economic Performance.

They even commended Ghana for its impressive economic performance over the past few years. That must be 2000-2008 or perhaps 2004-2008. Why will they not commend Ghana? The NPP hierarchy was there in Switzerland. The Free Marketers similarly praised NDC in their time. When your enemies praise you for continuing to make them wealthy, you must know something is seriously wrong.

The indicators of this impressive economic performance, which the poor Ghanaian Majority did not see because it must have been so impressive, are high real GDP growth rates, decreasing inflation, improved fiscal situation and substantial progress in poverty reduction.

Perhaps the WTO needs some re-education in the real streets of Ghana’s poor villages and towns where children are beasts of burden and are sold into modern slavery. But who told them Ghanaians want poverty reduction and not poverty elimination? Was it the NDC or the NPP?

The lying commendation came up at the just ended Third Trade Policy Review of Ghana by the World Trade Organisation, which took place in Geneva, Switzerland, from Monday, January 29 to Wednesday, January 31, 2008. So Ghanaians cannot conduct a policy review of Ghana? We need foreigners to do that for us. We do not have economists in Ghana who can review Ghana’s economic performance?

But then who sent the WTO lies home? Well it was one Mr Daniel Okaiteye-Blessyn, Head of Chancery, Ghana Embassy, Berne, Switzerland. He is reported to have that "WTO members noted that the strong growth of Ghana's economy had been supported by trade liberalisation, through, inter-alia, reduction of tariff rates and the number of bands, as well as the streamlining of customs procedures.” In short they noted what was in their organised interest. Will you not do the same? But then this Okaiteye-Blessyn (is he a Ghanaian?) lives in Switzerland and his children do not drink worm-infested water. His wife has not been deported by the British lately to die for lack of unaffordable dialysis machines in Ghana. His children are not on Accra streets selling water and dog chains.

Ghana’s free market commitment to the WTO, including the Doha Development Agenda (DDA) negotiations is only increasing our poverty. And yet Ghana was encouraged to increase its notifications under various WTO Agreements. Can you believe it? They are saying we should help to increase our own poverty beyond the levels at which it is. Characteristically, the way to do it is to keep our market open to the very imports that are destroying Ghana and bring our beloved nation to its knees and crawling in dirt, filth, diseases, accidents and impunity. Are they any patriots and nationalists left in Ghana at all? Or has Ghana become a country of wimps?

To drive this home Mr. Vesa Himanen of Finland, Chairman of the meeting impudently observed that WTO members could assist Ghana by keeping their markets open for products and services of interest to Ghana, and by providing technical assistance. Can you believe it? After the Free Marketers have destroyed our economy and support Governments that are not interested in policies that will create a just and free society, they talk of fake technical assistance. Lets give them one or two good ideas. How about technical assistance to replace Cadbury in the global cocoa products markets? How about technical assistance to stop exporting gold and creating a gold jewellery industry in Ghana. The hypocrites – open markets and technical assistance indeed!

As usual there is a Ghana delegation who go to these meetings without a clue and who never fight for our democratic interest. This time they were a seven-member delegation, led by Mr. Kwaku Agyemang-Manu, MP, Deputy Minister of Trade, Industry, Private Sector Development and President's Special Initiatives. It also included Mr. Kwabena Baah-Duodu, Ghana's Ambassador to Switzerland and Permanent Representative to the United Nations. The other members of the delegation were officials of the Ghana Permanent Mission in Geneva, the Ministry of Trade, Industry, Private Sector Development and President's Special Initiatives, the Registrar General's Department and Customs and Excise and Preventive Service. Clearly with such officials attending these conferences for reasons other than Ghana’s industrial and progressive development interest no wonder Ghana is poor. These same officials have no clue as to how to sort out our rice industry. Under NDC the Aveyime Rice Project failed. Under NPP it simply got worse. Now they are attending international conferences to achieve what? We know what – more poverty.

Let us be clear Ghana's policy objective of increasing its regional and global integration, strengthening and diversifying its export base will definitely be appreciated because it will take Ghana nowhere towards wealth for all. The poor will simply remain poor.

So Mr. Kwaku-Manu briefed the meeting on economic developments in Ghana and highlighted the new trade policy of Ghana, which was being implemented under a five-year Trade Sector Support Programme. He forgot to add that the same policies are keeping majority of Ghanaians who own Ghana poor. The same peoples who mandated them under a constitution to create a just and free society. He also forgot to tell them that these policies would never create a just and free society. They are simply unconstitutional.

As for the WTO it must come as no surprise that it encourages Ghana to pursue its reforms, including its trade regime, and to improve its multilateral commitments on goods and services, to enhance the transparency and predictability of the regime, and adherence to WTO principles. Why will the WTO not say that? It is in their interest.

Ghana can call for as much assistance as it likes; it can help redouble efforts on the Doha Development Agenda (DDA) to ensure that the negotiations are successfully concluded but the WTO and Ghana's development partners will never assist Ghana to overcome poverty and create wealth for all.



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