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Opinions of Sunday, 23 November 2014

Columnist: Agyemang, Katakyie Kwame Opoku

Prez Mahama Must be Forced to Account for our Money

According to Brene Brown; "When we fail to set boundaries and hold people accountable, we feel used and mistreated". Is Brown being proven right by the silence of Ghanaians to force president Mahama to account for our money? Aside taxation (direct and indirect) as the principal source of government revenue, successive governments have relied on borrowing (domestic & external) for a number of development projects. Since borrowing, especially from the Breton Wood Institutions - World Bank and IMF usually attracts interests, as well as certain conditions, it is imperative for governments to put the borrowed funds into viable economic ventures for the benefit of the citizenry. From the time of independence till January 2001, Ghana's overall public debt stock stood at $7.5billion, and this was as a result of internal and external borrowing.

By the time the Kufuor-led NPP government left power in January 2009, the total National Debt had been increased from $7.5 billion to GH¢9.6bn, an addition of a little over $2bn. However, this additional debt of $2bn could be justified by the implementation of pro-poor policies such as the NHIS, free maternal care, LEAP, NYEP, school feeding, mass transit among others. The discovery of oil alone could justify the NPP government's $2bn debt, but HIPC funds, and $547 million from the Millennium Challenge Account, and visible projects like the $622m Bui Dam, Presidential Palace, trunk roads, 52 model SHSs, and four (4) new and renovated sports stadia were all left for the NDC government in 2009.

Surprisingly, during Election 2008, Ghanaians were hoodwinked into believing that, all was not well with the management of the nation's financial resources. The promises of cutting down profligate spending, reducing fuel prices drastically, arresting people on mere newspaper publication to deal with corruption etc did the trick. But, the NDC has been in power for 6 years now, and regrettably, the country seems to be in retrogression. The NDC administration has proven to be the worst thing that has happened to mother Ghana. As I write today, Ghana’s total public debt has jumped from GH¢9.6bn in 2009 to GH¢69.7 billion in 2014, showing a difference of GH¢60.1bn. This means that each Ghanaian, adult or baby, now owes GH¢2,700 (27 million old cedis).

If all the road tolls collected within the last six (6) years, the high increases in taxes - import duties, utilities, export duties, VAT, direct taxes etc, were added to the loans already contracted, one can imagine how much has gone into the coffers of this particular government. It must also be noted that, the revenue enumerated above excludes what the country derives from our exports - gold, diamond, manganese, cocoa, timber, and the crude oil. Again, it beggars belief the government's sense of excessive borrowing, especially the IMF bail-out, if a closer look is taken at the economy. Where is our money, Mr. President?

Today, workers' pension fund is missing; our roads are terrible to ply on; our energy, even though we boast of having the largest man-made lake in the World, is not sustainable; and corruption - SUBAH, GYEEDA, is at its peak. The educational system is in tatters, we can't about the Tema Oil Refinery; and statutory payments are not being paid. Besides, the unemployment situation is worse because the present government has no clue about job creation; and millions of university graduates are at home wasting their talents. The NDC only creates jobs through propaganda and on the radio. Strike action by Labour Unions has become the order of the day, and many business have collapsed due to frequent power outages. Ghanaians are living in a state of hopelessness, but if you dare complain, the president will pluck his ears with wood, and say; "Y3ntie obiara". What has been the benefit of his globetrotting to the economy of Ghana?

Since 2009, I have been hearing about the Eastern Corridor, Western Corridor, SADA, free school uniforms, expansion of school feeding programmes to all basic schools etc. In 2014, the Finance Minister is talking about the construction of 200 SHSs. The execution period for the above projects and programmes is still unknown. When will these lies come to an end, Mr. Mahama?

For strange reasons, the NDC can't even complete Suhum-Apadwa portion of the Accra-Kumasi, they can't pay arrears of newly-trained teachers, yet they are promising free SHS in 2015. The National Petroleum Authority (NPA) uses the automatic fuel price adjustment to increase fuel prices any time the crude oil price at the World Market goes up, but when the price falls, the NPA remains adamant and says the same automatic price adjustment cannot work this time around. In the end, prices of petroleum products have been increased by 17.5%.

The NDC can find money to construct a new statue for Dr. Kwame Nkrumah and celebrate his birthday. They can find money to build $20m party headquarters in Accra. They can find GH¢51.2m to pay fraudulent judgement debt to Woyome. They can find GH¢12,000 (120 million old cedis) to pay John Mahama every month. They can find money to buy laptops, and saloon cars to young girls to vote for them. But the same John Mahama will complain about public sector wages. Why do people continue to trust and support this man and his party?

For me, the Ghanaian electorate must be politically 'wiser' this time around. President Mahama has proven to be incompetent in the management of our scarce financial resources. And by dancing to the tune of "Y3ntie Obiara", he has shown that he is insensitive to our plight. It's time to try new hands and I strongly believe Nana Akufo-Addo and NPP are ready to provide a better alternative. They have the men to expand the economy. Therefore, any attempt to allow president Mahama another term of office could jeopardize the future of this beloved country of ours. Let's rise and demand accountability from president Mahama and his team.

God bless Ghana! God bless the NPP!! God bless Kufuor!!!