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Opinions of Monday, 18 July 2005

Columnist: Kojo (Atadwe)

Washing Your Face Upwards

I have a secret to share wuth you, please keep it to yourself. I come from Cape Coast and I went to the great college on the hill. One day at school, after answering a question put to me by a senior, he grabbed me and asked "Do you think that I am so stupid that I wash my face upwards"? (He said it in Twi) Although this question baffled me, I understood what he meant. Since that day I have always imagined the act of doing this.

This afternoon I decided to write this article, so as soon as I got home I went straight to the bathroom to try it out. I wanted to make sure that I knew what I was talking about. You should try it too. If you are shy, you can lock the bathroom door for privacy.

As far as I could tell, the act was cumbersome and strange. Although it is possible to do, it seems to defeat the purpose. You clean the chin and work your way up, only for the dirt from the forehead to run back down to your chin. Our forefathers were really wise, now who do you think it was that tried this out in the first place, to come up with this statement?

The real reason why I am writing, is that the behaviour of some of our so called "BIG MEN" is worrying. They appear to be practicing this face washing action that my senior was talking about. Many of them, lawyers, businessmen and bankers, amongst others have all been very well educated. Why then, are they happy to run a system that forces them to behave in this manner?

What is their crime? They make us pay for everything in full, in cash. Cars, houses, furniture and others. The bankers and economists really should know better. They learnt the same things as their counterparts in the USA, Britain, and other developed countries. Have they not found anything wrong with the system that many of them oversee?

Our bankers expect a businessman to hand over documents to property as security for a loan. Although this is normal practice, can anyone explain why in the developed world a person of the age of 25-30 will need a mortgage to aquire property, yet in the poorer developing world it seems normal that the same aged person could have found the cash to have built the property themself. Meanwhile, if he/she is straight, that manager of the same age would be happy with their fully expenced bungalow.

A top executive is reported to have spent around 1.5 billion cedis, buying two cars for himself and another top man to use. Surely the bulk of that money could have been put to better use, at the very least to help the cash flow of the company. Then again business might be so good that the company needed to get rid of some liquidity. This "BIG MAN'S" colleagues in the truely rich countries have already developed the framework for a more efficient way of making the same purchase. Maybe our "BIG MAN" was not in class on the day that this was being taught. Even so, all he had to do was to get the notes and copy them. It is a question of understanding HOW to use money. When these are the people who lead us, it is no suprise that we have achieved HIPC status.

Now, I do not begrudge the banker or anyone else their bungalows and expenses, however I question their qualification and ability to manage and run the country, if they have not identified a serious problem with the system they oversee, and demanded a change to it. Their colleagues in the developed world have realised that if you have to starve, to save every pesewa you earn to buy your BMW, you will not be interacting with the economy for that period. That may be alright for the individual, however it is bad news for the economy. For the economy to grow it needs to be stimulated, you and I need to spend. That is one reason why the developed countries have created and adopted credit cards, because there is a need for people to be able to buy what has been manufactured, otherwise the economy will come to a halt. All they require you to do, is service that debt. ( Money you have not earned.) It is a system, created for the survival of their economy. Of the two systems, which one is working? We are washing our faces upwards.

Fear not, for there is light at the end of the tunnel. At long last, our MPs have been granted their $25,000 loans to buy the cars they so badly need, to travel to their constituencies in order to interact with their constituents. (They do not have computers, which would cost $1,500-2,000. each multiplied by 460, so that each MP and his constituency office could communicate with each other.) Some arrangement between a bank and the government acting as a guarantor has been made. This will enable the MPs to buy the cars and take them home whilst their pay is deducted with certain fixed amounts every month. This makes the purchase less of a headache and also leaves them some money to help stimulate the economy by being able to make other purchases. Surely, this has only happened because the MPs can be traced and identified easily and properly.

All we need our MPs to do for us now, is to make sure that such a system is implemented for the rest of the people in the country, so that we can also conduct our business and transactions in a similar fashion. We must be grateful to our MPs for their efforts and thinking about putting such a system together. So, how long do you think it will take for them to act on their own idea, for the benefit of the nation and the people they represent?

The reason why our society is corrupt is that the system requires that we be corrupt. It does not add up any other way. Washing your face from the top down is much more efficient, that is probably why we all do it that way. However, you can be sure that some die-hards will still try doing it the wrong way.



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