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Opinions of Saturday, 2 January 2016

Columnist: Okoampa-Ahoofe, Kwame

We Are Not Fools, Mahama Ayariga!

By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
English Department, SUNY-Nassau
Garden City, New York
December 29, 2016
E-mail: okoampaahoofe@optimum.net

The first news report had the Environment, Science And Technology Minister defending allegations that he had signed a contract forcing the incoming Akufo-Addo Administration to allow a privately owned company, with ties to some prominent members of the Mahama government, called Debsther Klean to establish an electronic-waste recycling plant in the country worth some € 18 million (See “ ‘There is no € 18 m Waste Recycling Contract’ – Mahama Ayariga” MyJoyOnline.com 12/22/16). Then in what clearly appeared to be a characteristically nuanced lie, Mr. Ayariga came public to deny the allegations. But, unfortunately for the sometime presidential pet cabinet appointee, it was immediately apparent that his denial was a lie because Mr. Ayariga also acknowledged that, indeed, he had met with executives of the aforementioned company and issued them the permit, or license, required by law to give them the go-ahead with their search for a landed location for the establishment of their proposed electronic-waste recycling plant.

Now, this is where matters get confusing for the naïve and unsophisticated but equally concerned and well-meaning and progressive-thinking Ghanaian citizen. The permit does not immediately commit the present government to the payment of the price tag of € 18 m that the proprietors and/or managers of the Debsther Klean want the government to eventually settle with their company. We must also quickly point out that the final price tag, as has been the case with many such contracts in the past, may very well be far in excess of the € 18 million presently being demanded by the Debsther Klean operatives, when one factors in the progressive level of inflation in capital costs over the course of the establishment of the electronic-waste recycling plant.

But that ought to be the least of our worries, despite the fact that we are not as yet in or knowledgeable about the exact temporal span or duration over which the plant would be constructed, let alone the specific time at which the full operation of the recycling plant would commence. We also don’t know the maximum operational capacity of the plant, although Mr. Ayariga and, in effect, the Mahama-led government of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), has committed the incoming Akufo-Addo Administration to a sole-sourcing contractual agreement. What my layman’s understanding tells me is that the Debsther Klean company, also called SCL in some of the news reports, is being permitted to establish itself in the country as a virtual monopoly. What this means is that no other firms or companies in the electronic-waste recycling business will be allowed to compete with SLC or Debsther Klean.

Now, in the kind of cost-effective market-oriented economic system being promoted by President-Elect Akufo-Addo which is, in fact, the ideological lynchpin of the Danquah-Busia-Dombo political tradition, virtual monopolies are aptly deemed to be cost-inefficient because they do not allow for the kind of healthy industrial competition that would ensure that the consumer has the requisite opportunity to choose from different kinds of service providers, with the most efficient and least costly invariably beating out its competitors, at least in theory. We are not the least bit flabbergasted or surprised that the key operatives of a state-capitalist or socialist-oriented government like Mr. Ayariga would enter into a contractual agreement that offers absolutely no viable alternatives, whatsoever, to the consumer. What such an agreement also means is that the incoming Akufo-Addo Administration would have absolutely no chance of leveraging competition or contractual alternatives as a progressive, and productive, means of scaling down the cost of doing business with SCL/Debsther Klean.

In effect, the hands of the incoming New Patriotic Party (NPP) operatives are tied. We are not the least bit flabbergasted because this is what socialists do best – which is to recklessly waste consumer resources, be that consumer the State, public entities, or the private individual citizen. Still, what rankled this writer more than anything else was the report either quoting or citing the Environment, Science And Technology Minister as saying that he had had the SCL/Debsther Klean contractual documents lying on his desk since November, but as the National Democratic Congress’ Member of Parliament for Bawku-Central, or some such constituency, seeking election, he had to arrange his agenda or to-do list by order of priority.

In other words, for the man who claims to be fervidly eager to leave a lasting legacy of great environmental health or cleanliness to his people and the country at large, getting reelected to parliament is of far greater significance than promptly overseeing to the granting of a permit, or the awarding of a monumental contract, to the operatives of a company that specializes in precisely the kind of legacy that the Harvard-schooled Mr. Ayariga claims to be very eager to bequeath the country. Could have fooled me, this Mahama “Bolgatanga” Ayariga man.

*Visit my blog at: kwameokoampaahoofe.wordpress.com Ghanaffairs