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Opinions of Monday, 20 June 2011

Columnist: Baafi, Alex Bossman

Priority Is Prosperity

By Alex Bossman Baafi

As a nation, our wants are many but the resources to meet them adequately are scarce and therefore we need to make choices in order to make optimum use of these scarce resources in the face of our numberless wants. The choices we make must be based on careful priorities for us to benefit as a nation. Anytime we misplace our priorities, we set the clock of progress of this nation backwards and that is one principal reason why we continue to mark time in our journey to join the comity of the developed nations.

In my humble opinion, if we want to win the enduring war against poverty and underdevelopment, we must fight our enslavement to corruption by reducing corruption to the barest minimum no matter what it takes. This should be our priority number one. This will enable us conserve and free more resources for reallocation to solve many problems confronting many in our deprived communities. Fighting corruption seriously is the responsibility of all of us with the government playing the lead role and carrying the people along in the fight. We have not been able to make any meaningful progress in the fight against corruption because the leadership or the government is deeply intoxicated with corruption and has therefore lost the moral right to champion the fight against this deadly social cancer that has reduced the mass majority of our people to hewers of stone and drawers of water. Many good people of this country were shocked to hear the Honorable Minister for Education confirming on the floor of Parliament that, a six unit classroom block now, (June 2011), costs the nation GHc 214,000 and more depending upon the location of construction instead of GHc 88,000 in 2008. This has been possible within the same period under review where inflation has been reduced from 20.8% to 9.02%. This very government that made corruption a major campaign issue in opposition have a very short memory. Observers believe that these contract sums have been hyperactively inflated because the leadership expected a certain percentage kickbacks to justify why contracts are awarded to cronies and friends without competitive bidding. This government has made nonsense of the Procurement Law that was promulgated to help mitigate the hemorrhaging of the state by our ‘Greedy’ politicians. If there is any one-policy direction that this government has disappointed many good people of this country, then, it is her attitude towards fighting corruption. It has really failed the nation with no political will and commitment to fight corruption. Remember the incredible Anas Aremeyaw Anas’ videos. What happened? Your guess is as good as mine is.

We must make it a priority to provide adequate, efficient and reliable supply of essential utilities of water and electricity to our people because I know they are national security issues of life and death. This must be done in addition to efficient management of solid and liquid waste. We have failed our people as far as the reliable supply of good drinking water; electricity and waste management are concerned. In the area of filth, we are all eyewitnesses to the fact that the whole nation is engulfed in it as if it is nobody’s business. The so called internally generated funds from our hardworking people, traders, trotro and taxi drivers, market women and other businessmen and women go to waste because the leadership is lazy to hold the MMDCEs accountable. We have lost many precious lives through outbreak of cholera disease borne out of filth and lack of good drinking water. Clean environment and Good drinking water promote good health thereby reducing government’s health bills to save money for other priorities.

We must make it a priority to reduce joblessness and hopelessness by creating jobs in all sectors of the economy. Unemployment reduces the unemployed to hopelessness. It leads to loss of skills and research shows that it reduces life expectancy by 7 years. Perhaps this explains in part why life expectancy in the country is low as compared to those in the developed world. We should understand the problems of joblessness are physical, emotional, psychological and mental and retards economic development of our country. What is expected of the government is to support the private sector especially the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to create jobs. This could be done by lowering taxes and giving tax incentives to our entrepreneurs to be able to invest, expand their businesses thereby creating more jobs. In my view, the government’s policy on job creation is counterproductive. Though the manifesto pledge of the government when in opposition was against tax hikes, on assuming the reigns of this country the government has introduced more than eight (8) new taxes. These are in addition to astronomical increases in the existing ones hence worsening the joblessness situation of the country. High utility bills and import duties alone are killing businesses compounding the joblessness and therefore hopelessness situation for the mass majority of our people.

We must also prioritize to finish all unfinished projects of the previous government when a new government comes to power. The previous administration left over 5,000 affordable houses at various degrees of their completion stages. The current government has neglected these is actively chasing a Korean STX Company to build cutthroat 30,000 houses for $1.5 billion. This is another sole sourcing contract, very fraudulent as exposed by the counter offer by the local estate developers’ body, GREDA. The same can be said about many uncompleted road projects dotted around the country that have been neglected. This is because taxpayers’ money had already been sunk into those projects and their completion will contribute to enhance the welfare of our dear people. A typical example is Achomota – Ofankor, Apedwa by-pass and the Nsawam – Suhum sections of the Accra – Kumasi high way that links the southern part of the country to the north and beyond. Above all, the socio-economic importance of this high way is not quantifiable so a decision to complete it will never be a reckless one please.

Kindly watch Metro TV News at 7pm. There is a campaign to raise funds to build a school for Hobor Community in the Greater Accra Region. Children lie on the floor to read and write and you will agree with me that millions of Cedis spent by the president crisscrossing the country with a long convoy in a sod-cutting ceremony and to campaign to lead NDC for a second term is a misplaced priority. In my humble opinion, we have many developmental challenges but our resources are limited. Therefore, our choices must be based on priorities because priorities will lead to prosperities. This is the responsibility of a caring government.

Email: abkbossman@yahoo.co.uk