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Opinions of Friday, 18 November 2016

Columnist: Yumzaa, Abdul-Mumin Sofo

Re: Any idiot can borrow money and build projects

By Abdul-Mumin Sofo Yumzaa

I should've stuck to the "changed" title, that is; "common sense appraisal of Mahama's "massive" projects," but, the common sense in me, and per the content of Manaseh's article, I've rather come to terms with the reality that, all the writer sort, was to ridicule, if not, insult President John Dramani Mahama, and so, it's become very necessary for me to rejoinder with a title the writer described as the "initial title", and or, "essence of his article."

I must say, that, I stopped worrying myself about Manasseh Azure Awuni and his writings, even though, I never stopped following his blog: Manasseh folder. I've, and will remain, an ardent reader of whatever trash he puts on that blog. One thing I noticed about Manaseh's trend of writing is that, he has adopted a propaganda tool against the NDC government, and most often, his works has been targeted at causing damage to the government.

Thanks to discerning minds; not all Ghanaians are, for want of better description, overly gullible to fall for his tricks. To the extent Manasseh starts to feed his gullible followers with ignorance, some of us will be left with no choice than to respond with facts.

Manasseh quizzed: "But is there anything special about borrowing money for infrastructural projects?"

YES! Manasseh, there's, if you care to know, everything special about borrowing money for infrastructure projects. Considering the economies of scale and externalities analysis, which I doubt Manasseh's knowledge on, infrastructure often comprises natural monopolies such as highways or water supply which exhibit increasing returns to scale and can generate social benefits.

While the direct payoffs to any government, who hitherto is an owner of an infrastructure project, may be inadequate for costs to be covered, the indirect externalities can still be beneficial for the economy as a whole. Example abounds in the Akosombo project. In fact, Ghana has never being a developed country.

The growth of the country's economy has been largely dependent on infrastructure development, and that is why it is recognized that, every government builds infrastructure. To borrow for huge infrastructure such as the Kwame Nkrumah circle interchange isn't a child's play. It takes high level integrity and proper financial management and controls to be able to woo huge financial institutions like the World Bank, IMF, AfDB, and well-to-do economies. To borrow, a government must wield and command unparallel credibility, and demonstrate high levels political will that comes with strong convictions.

To posit that anyone can borrow to build infrastructure is, but a fat lie. Well, do I blame Manasseh? If a government in the past were able to borrow in hairdressing salons, why won't Manasseh think that, any idiot can borrow? However, what Manasseh failed to comprehend is that, governance is not same as managing a family. It's a huge responsibility, where you cannot rule out the relevance and necessity of borrowing. Just as Manasseh believes any idiot can borrow, I'd like to remind him that, even in the borrowing idiocy, there are classes, and in fact, the NDC government has so far perched itself at a highest class. At least, we're yet to witness a borrowing from a hairdressing salon.

There's some amount of confusion, double standard and hypocrisy in Manasseh's article. Whilst condemning borrowing for infrastructure, Manasseh churned praises on the government for constructing the Damongo road that leads to the Mole National Park. The confusion and hypocrisy in Manasseh's reasoning is, he forgot so soon, that the said road was constructed with idiosyncratic borrowing.

He wrote: "When I recently traveled to the Mole National Park in the Northern Region, I was impressed by the fact that the road has been done and a journey that could take up to five hours in the past now takes less than two hours. I have since not stopped praising the government for paying attention to that road." If you've been praising government for the attention given to the roads, why do you pray government not to pride itself and celebrate its success? This, to me, is the highest form of hypocrisy and confusion.

Manasseh also admitted in his article, "There is a huge infrastructural deficit in Ghana so the hospitals, roads, schools and interchanges are needed. We must commend the government for building them."

Funny though, Manaseh thinks that, borrowing to fix and cover this deficit is idiocy. This is very unfortunate! If someone who has sat in class to study could write this way, what do we expect of those who have not had the opportunity of studying in class? When President Mahama described some section of the media as a cabal against his government, I thought to myself that, Manasseh is the mouth-piece of the cabal, and so, I am not surprised, Manaseh has alleged in his article that, Hon. Felix has been given a drone by the government.

The extent of jealousy by members of the cabal is legendary. Had Hon. Felix not taken innovative steps to communicate government's achievements, Manasseh and his ilk would've succeeded in deceiving everyone with their lies.

What caught my attention in Manasseh's article is the issue of health insurance, where he sort to praise Ex President Kuffuor and described him as a giant in our political landscape. Yes, he's. But, I must remind Manasseh that, it was under same President Kuffuor's watch that government borrowed in a hairdressing salon. Indeed, he's a giant. It was under his watch, that kickbacks became institutionalized at the castle. In fact, it was under the watch of Ex President Kuffuor, that Ghana witnessed pastors praying at Akosombo to solve dumsor.

On the substance of health insurance as basis to grade Preident Kuffuor a giant, Manasseh wrote: "if my mother in Bongo falls sick today and she's rushed to the hospital, I will not have to send money before she receives treatment. The National Health Insurance Scheme, with all the mismanagement and exaggerated allegations of its collapse by the NPP, is still a live wire for many people in the country. Simple ailments such as malaria do not have to kill patients because they cannot pay cash before they are given treatment."

This is another confused analogy that makes Manasseh's article a mere propaganda, rather than a piece to inform. In one breathe, Manasseh alleges that the scheme is been mismanaged, whilst in another breathe; he admits it's a life wire for some people. For the records, the National Health Insurance Scheme is one of the well managed schemes our country can ever think of. Between 2008 and 2016, outpatients utilization increased to 20.3milliom with a corresponding claims payment of over 1billion Ghana Cedis. Claims payment, as at 2008 under Kuffuor, stood at 18.3 million Ghana Cedis.

There has been newly constructed regional and district offices for the scheme across Ghana. An E-claims service has been introduced, and subscribers now are enrolled on a biometric system. To cure Manasseh's confusion, it is important to add that, under Giant Kuffuor what was operational was a district mutual scheme that would've disallowed his old mother an opportunity to access health care in Accra on a visit, if it was still operational. The scheme has moved from that, and thanks to the NDC government, his mother in the village can access health care with her health insurance card anywhere in Ghana.

Arguably, such a programme with all the innovations and confidence cannot be said to be mismanaged.

As unrepentant as Manasseh is, he also sorts to ridicule the community day senior high schools. He wrote: "President Mahama is infatuated with building community day senior high schools. Common sense ought to tell anybody associated with those projects that the communities in which those schools are built cannot produce a quarter of the students needed to fill them, except those in the city."

May God forgive this high-level ignorance! In fact, common sense ought to tell Manasseh that we the village boys and girls aspire to go to school in the cities because city schools have been more beautiful than ours. In some cases, we do not have any. This means that, city schools will be less attractive or important to us, if we have E-shape buildings that come with modern facilities, of which the cities don't have. Students in the various communities that has benefitted from the community day senior high schools will certainly patronize them. With this, Manasseh is undoubtedly speaking the NPP's language; programmed to against.

Finally, Manasseh told a palpable lie when he posited that, "The government cannot boast about the economy. The government cannot boast about tackling the biggest problem in our country – corruption. The power crisis appears to be in hibernation. Our education, health and other important aspects of human development are retrogressing."

Manasseh, please, read! At least, your head isn't meant for carrying NPP propaganda loads. Real Economists, not Bawumia will tell you that, the many infrastructure projects have so much a positive impact on our economy, and so, it is not true, that the government cannot boast about the economy. On the issue of corruption, I'd like to refer Manasseh to the National Anti Corruption Action Plan (NACAP) which for the first time in the history of Ghana has been introduced by the NDC government. Power crisis in hibernation? Wow! I now have a cause to believe that, the NPP together with its media cabal wished that the crisis were still with us. Education, health retrogressing? May the gods of Tongo forgive your blatant lies.

Manasseh, be advised: In pursuit to claim fame, it's important to eschew lies, hatred and insincerity. This way, you can build a trust-worthy brand, and you shall earn for yourself, untainted fame.

May God forgive us all!