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Opinions of Tuesday, 17 January 2006

Columnist: Ampofo Ofori

There Is Money In The System- Rejoinder.

On general News of Wednesday 11th January 2006, the Deputy Minister of Finance and Economic planning Dr. Anthony Akoto-Osei was said to have dismissed the notion in certain circles that the Government is not doing much to put money into the pockets of the people. He said, by adopting prudent economic policies, there is enough money in the system, and more people were getting money through legitimate means to undertake various ventures. Dr. Akoto-Osei is said to have cited the number of buildings being put up by Ghanaians and the expensive cars people are riding in, as examples to buttress his assertion. He asked, if there is no money in the pockets of the people, where they got resources to acquire such buildings and expensive cars. It is believed that Dr. Akoto-Osei made these statements after a reception he organized for a cross section of New Patriotic Party (NPP) MEMBERS IN THE Tafo- Pankorono Constituency in Kumasi where he is the Member of Parliament.

It is unfortunate that the Deputy Minister for Finance and Economic planning is measuring the success of Ghana?s economy by the Houses and Luxury cars people are riding around. Of course, since the history of Ghana, Rich people have been building houses and buying expensive cars. That is no innovation under the NPP administration to take credit of. The same can be said from since colonial administration. The fact that 10% of the Population can afford to build houses and purchase expensive cars does not suggest the Economy is doing well and money is getting into the pockets of all Ghanaians. THIS STATEMENT BY Dr. Akoto-Osei is just like the statement made by another member of Parliament suggesting the creation of Ministry of men?s affairs because women are gradually taking credits in society over men because there is a Ministry for women affairs. What a shame? Why can?t they keep quiet if they don?t have anything to contribute?

Is Dr. Akoto-Osei?s Measure of success in the economy the ability of few Ghanaians building and buying expensive cars? If that is his Yardstick, then I am not surprised he sat before a Parliamentary committee and couldn?t explain how 27.6 Billion Cedis of the HIPC fund had been disbursed with no project attachment. I have not read from any source that the 27.6 Billion Cedis has been accounted for, however, the Minister walks free and with the chapter closed right there in Parliament house. If Ghanaian Politicians are sincere to the Country and themselves, Dr.Akoto-Osei should have tendered in his resignation to avoid the embarrassment before Parliament and the whole country, tarnishing his reputation.

In my humble opinion, the measure of success in the Economy shouldn?t be by the ownership of houses and expensive cars. No; instead, it should be tied to the following

    1. Affordable healthcare delivery
    2. Available good drinking water.
    3. Improved Educational system.
    4. Good roads.
    5. Job creation and fair Income distribution.
    6. Affordable Utilities.
    7. And above all, the ability for the people to afford the ordinary necessities of life e.g. Food, Clothing and accommodation.
I have just returned from a one Month visit to Ghana and can therefore tell that Dr. Akoto-Osei?s statement is highly deceptive to his constituency and the whole country. Those who are suffering are the majority and have no one to complain to, but their God for salvation. The money in the system is not seen by the suffering majority. Mr. Minister, prices for goods and services are prohibitive so what relevance is your statement? Be Realistic Please.

The world Bank country Director for Ghana Mr. Mats Karlsson on Friday December 30th on the front page of the Daily Graphic, expressed his sentiments thus, GHANA CAN?T COMPLAIN, BECAUSE IT HAS ALL THE RESOURCES FOR ACCELERATED DEVELOPMENT AT its DIPOSAL. He gave a catalogue of simple practical management procedures which is missing in our management practices as a Nation. Mr. Karlsson said Money had to be managed well and accountability and the country and the people should now move away from how much money comes in, and be more concerned with how efficiently the funds that come in were being used and managed. He said it is part of the Corruption issue and said I don?t want to mince words on this; it is still a real issue.

Everything Mr. Karlsson touched on was real and true and that is why we have inefficiencies in our management systems and it all boils down to corruption. He praised the professionalism of Ghanaians and their excellent hospitality and human relations interface, which he termed as human gold. He said, the combination of our human gold and agriculture, could give Ghana that accelerated growth necessary for poverty reduction. I agree with Mr. Karlsson on everything he touched on and indeed, Ghana should not be told by a World Bank official to go into serious agriculture to give us an accelerated growth necessary for poverty reduction. Neither do we need a World Bank official to tell us all the Practical Management stuff. Unfortunately, we know everything but simply don?t practice them because the system is corrupt rendering it unworkable. How can anybody understand why the disbursement of 27.6 Billion Cedis could not be explained by a deputy Minister of finance before a parliamentary committee, and expect this country to move forward and alleviate poverty in our society?

On Agriculture, I do not understand why successive governments have given no serious attention to give us the needed accelerated growth for poverty reduction? We are not harnessing our human gold for the needed economic growth for the benefit of the disadvantaged majority. In my opinion, the importation of any food item onto the Ghanaian market with our scarce foreign exchange must be seen as purely irresponsible on the part of any Government of the day. Dr Akoto-Osei and all at the top are satisfied so they think all Ghanaians are satisfied. I will advise them to go to the streets of Accra and they will see the agonizing faces of Young boys and girls some less than 10 years old on the scotching sun chasing cars to selling every commodity available.

In my rounds in Accra, I met a Police corporal who in conversation said his monthly salary is less than one Million Cedis and have served for 14 years. How on earth does any fair thinking mind expect this Police officer to refuse a bribe or extort money from offending drivers on the streets or on the highways? The same goes for the School Headmaster, the Judge, the Custom officer, the Internal Revenue Officer, and indeed all sectors of the economy. The Policeman confided in me that if he sends an offender to the top, he is going to pay the bribe there anyway so why doesn?t he rather take it to augment his income? What goes to the pockets of the workers is what Dr. Akoto-Osei should talk about as a measure of success in the economy and not Houses and expensive cars the few rich like him and his contemporaries are amassing. The statement by the police officer, tells a story that the TOP SHOULD LEAD BY EXAMPLE AND THE BOTTOM MAY FOLLOW THE FOOT STEPS FOR CHANGE.

DISTRIBUTION OF NATION?S WEALTH.

There can never be equitable distribution of the wealth of the Country, but there must be absolute fairness. 50% of the Privileges enjoyed free by one Minister can pay about 10 people in the middle income bracket.

Government officials and Parliamentarians are not so much affected by the harsh economic measures therefore they think all is well with the citizenry. They do not buy Petrol so they do not care how high it goes, they do not pay for Electricity, Water& Gas, And a lot of other necessities are free for them at the expense of the Tax payer so why will they cry for the ordinary man on the street? Fellow Ghanaians, these are obviously, some of the Injustices and unfairness in the country that drives most Ghanaian Professionals like Medical Doctors out of the country. Unfortunately, we keep on complaining without addressing the unfairness and injustices in the country. Countrymen, I believe Ghana has the potential to be rich; we have the resources. It is only up to us to tap into those resources, Human and Natural, to make Ghana a better place for all of us. LET US SIT UP AND COME UP WITH SOLUTIONS TO SAVE GHANA.IT IS A DUTY WE MUST NOT FAIL.

GOOD ARTICLE. On 11th January 2006, I read an article written by Mr. Otchere Bonna Secretary of the Ghana Leadership Union, calling for a network of Ghanaian Associations in the Diaspora to cross over from individual remittances to corporate Investment in Ghana to create Permanent Jobs for our dependants. The idea is very laudable but, it appears to me that from experiences of others whose attempts at returning home to invest in Ghana have been frustrated by bureaucratic tendencies, is an indication that we are not most welcome in our own country. Four years ago, five young friends contributed capital and established a tomato processing plant in the Asante Akim District. Their eventual take off, has been frustrated by operational capital and no one in Government nor Investment Promotion Council is helping these guys to take off production. Their final drop will eventually be parking baggage to return to their overseas abode. For fear of intense Political competition, Politicians at home will do everything to frustrate our efforts to go back home. They are only interested in our remittances as a cushion for the country?s economic sustenance, and not to come and compete with them.

The first thing we need to do as diasporans, is to organise all associations and individuals into a strong and formidable political force and move in to effect dynamic changes,in the political direction with clear message of sincerity, dedication and selflessness in our goal to move our country forward. The suggestion for diasporans corporate capitalisation until then may be an attempt in futility.

Fellow countrymen, the save ghana now association believes there is a bright future ahead of ghana.countries in the asian belt have moved from dependency to economic self reliance out of strong leadership desire to creat their own wealth. We can also do the same. Visit our web site www.saveghana.org and register with us. Together we can make ghana a better place.

United in development. God blesses our homeland and our people.

Ampofo Ofori.
(Chairman Save Ghana Now Association,)


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