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Opinions of Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Columnist: Daniel Kwansah

The impact of partisan politics on private sector growth

Partisan politics has undoubtedly played a major role in the stagnation of private sector growth over the years.

The phenomenon in which one government begins a programme and another government truncates the same programme by virtue of the fact that it didn’t initiate the programme has been quite rife in the country.

This is the same trend that led to several cases of judgement debts that government is currently grappling with.

It looks as though every new government that comes into power must undo a lot of the things that the previous government did regardless of how beneficial it is to the country.

The mere difference in political party ideology seems to impair our judgement as it pertains to what is good for the country.

This vicious cycle of bastardising every single project initiated by the previous administration must stop.

The issue of judgement debts became so profound in the country to the extent that the previous government set up the judgement debt commission in 2012 to inquire into payments of judgement debts and related matters in the country. Justice Yaw Appau was the sole commissioner.

At the end of the commission’s hearings on November 6 2014, a report was presented to the president based on which the then government issued a white paper on judgement debts in the country.

The white paper identified unlawful abrogation of contracts and undue interference by powerful politicians in some public institutions as some of the factors that culminated in the payment of judgement debts.

The Attorney General at the time, MariettaBrew Appiah-Oppong, said, the white paper followed careful study of the commission’s report on the payment of judgement debt, arbitration, awards and related issues.

The Commission received a total of 341 witnesses out of which 313 tendered in evidence and exhibits.

The impact of judgement debts on the country and the economy as a whole cannot be overemphasised but we must be judicious and efficient in our investigations and put the development of our nation first.

Implications

Nitpicking, sabotage and power play result in the erosion of private sector and investor confidence.

The appetite to invest in the country diminishes, the country’s image and reputation is tarnished and international aid and donor agencies scale back their engagement with government.

This defeats government’s objective of making the private sector the engine of growth in the country.

Absence of a National Development Plan

The absence of a mandatory national development plan in the country is one of the key reasons why projects and the country as a whole have stagnated.

This is because if the country had a mandatory national development plan, every government would have to pick up the baton from where the previous government left off.

The recent outdoor of a 40-year development plan by the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC) raised a lot of questions from the various political parties.

Most of them were not in favour of having a long-term development plan for the country.

Hopefully, the powers that be can bring all stakeholders together to come up with a plan that is acceptable and embraced for the good of our nation.

LCB Worldwide Ghana Limited

An example of this unnecessary delay is that of crisis management and prevention company, LCB Worldwide Ghana Limited.

LCB Worldwide Ghana limited began negotiations with the previous administration and all the necessary stakeholders for the disinfection of all imports and exports at the various ports and points of entry and exit in the country.

They finally signed the agreement with the current administration in June 2017. Even though plans are afoot for the disinfection exercise to begin in March 2018 in the two main seaports of Tema and Takoradi, many are wondering why it took so long for the company to be given the green light to commence operations.

The company is yet to secure the green light to commence the exercise at Ghana’s only international airport, the Kotoka International Airport. They have not divulged details as to why they haven’t begun work but many industry players believe it is because the company’s contract negotiations started with the previous administration.

There is a hold-up in terms of offering the company the leeway and opportunity to cover every coverable location in terms of disinfecting imports and exports when the company has the proven track record plus the project is entirely funded by LCB worldwide and comes at no cost to Government.

It is truly a win-win for Ghana but yet there seems to be a halt in progress. This reeks of power play and an end must be put to it.

Partisan politics must be eschewed in all facets of private sector operations.

The private sector must be allowed to thrive, function and contribute to the socio-economic wellbeing of the country without unnecessary interference. We will not progress as a nation if we keep meddling in private sector business.

Investors who have secured genuine contracts to invest in the country must be guaranteed the returns on their investment.

That is the only way we can ensure private sector growth and investor confidence and create much-needed jobs for the people of Ghana.