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Opinions of Thursday, 5 June 2008

Columnist: Atitsogbui, Paul Parker

Why NPP must be voted out


All too soon, the battle line for the 2008 general election has been drawn, far ahead of time, even before the referee whistle for the commencement of the race. But one significant about this year’s election is the fact that all the contestants have agreed to center the campaign on issues rather than the traditional trend of insult, accusation, mud-smearing, lies, empty promises and so on, having had the chance of governing the country at one point in time. However, it’s still not certain whether the politicians would be honest enough to compare their tenure of office religiously, and it’s upon this reasons that compels me to write this article.

My heading may sound politically bias but be assured that I am writing this article in the capacity as an informed Ghanaian, who had had the opportunity to assess the two main contenders (NPP & NDC) without any political lens. In order not to bore you I am going to run a series of articles to touch on every aspect of the economy.

For the purpose of this article, I will limit my argument to UTILITIES (water & electricity). These two utilities form part of the most important basic needs of our modern world. It does not need the so-call macroeconomic indicators, economic reform and so on, to be supplied. It cuts across social status, tribal line, and political differences. In deed, it’s a national interest and all must join hands in fighting for the better services of these essential commodities which make life complete daily.

During the NDC regime, water and electricity were subsidized, but we all know that subsidies have both advantages and disadvantages. It worsens government deficit which in effect affects the government budget, so it will take a good government to adjust its budget to compensate for the subsidies. On the other hand, subsidies are very crucial to any economy whose minimum wage is far below the world accepted wage to at least reduce the economic hardship on its people. In the UK, there is nothing like subsidies on utilities but the government pays the full cost of water supplied to the poor leaving the rich to pay for their own that is why there is a free water supply to every council residence. In addition, there is nothing like supply interruption, and even if there is the need for any interruption information is given to that effect for continues one or two weeks.

Now back to Ghana, the NDC government realized that the salary range in the country is far below the surviving line, besides greater percent of the residents are unemployed and therefore struggling to have a three square meal a day let alone paying for the full cost of water and electricity, so there is the need to subsidize the utilities in other to reduced the burden of the people who have voted them into power. In fact Ghanaians enjoyed these subsidies on utilities without much interruption and incurring any huge debt to both GWSC and ECG. This does not suggest that there were no set backs in the supply during the NDC regime. We had power rationing for about six month, water were not flowing regularly in some parts of the country and other problems.

Then came the NPP in 2001, after Ghanaians had had enough of the NDC and needed a change, not only in person but in government as well. In fact the promises that were showered on Ghanaians by the NPP were too appetizing to be ignored and Ghanaians did not hesitate in voting NPP into power. The first appreciation NPP showed to Ghanaians was the removal of all subsidies on utilities without a correspondent increase in wages. Both water and electricity were increased more than 100% and the question many people asked was how NDC did managed to subsidize the utilities but NPP could not do the same. They were quick to tell Ghanaians that the subsidies has accumulated a huge debt, and that is why NDC could not (eliminate the supply interruption) provide good services in the utilities so we should bear with them to clear the debt for a good service. Ghanaians who are so obedience and respectful accepted these excuse and paid for the service at a high cost. My common sense also tells me that if the government subsidizes the service it would not get enough money to provide better service and by logical conclusion paying for the full cost will ensure a better service. Almost eight years down the line the services of water and electricity has gone from bad to worse.

In the history of Ghana, it is only under this government that Ghanaians have paid a full cost of water and electricity yet NPP, remains the only government in Ghana that has had more than a year black-out and water rationing, a fact they always deny on paper but real on grounds. Also, NPP remains the only Government who had receive a substantial amount from companies (MTN donated $ 20 Million) to improve upon the water services not withstanding the numerous funds which has come into the country for these purposes.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the big question is, WHAT HAVE THEY USED THE MONEY FOR? To improve the services of the basic needs of Ghanaians who gave them the mandate to rule the country or for themselves. No wonder they disposed off the presidential jet the NDC acquired on the grounds that there were more pressing needs as at the time but yet they want to buy two of them today in the face of the pressing needs they talked about. If the NDC could use little resources and subsidize water and electricity and yet provides relatively better services than NPP, then my title should be given a second taught.

As I speak, it’s only under this regime that kerosene has become more expensive than petrol. I do accept the fact that Ghana has no hands in the prices of crude oil; neither do I expect the government to subsidize the price of its products but yet expect the government to reduce or remove any tax element on them to make it affordable to the poor who are in the majority. We were told that NDC has incurred a huge debt of about 400 billion cedis at TOR which was collapsing Ghana Commercial Bank so Ghanaians should accept to pay a recovering toll on the fuel price to clear the debt, but as at today the debt has increased to about $400 Trillion cedis (I stand to be corrected). Why should there be a debt if we are paying for the full cost in addition to the recovery toll which is not part of the production cost. Are they using the recovery toll to recover the debt of TOR or NPP? I hope it’s not part of the “NYAFU NYAFU” money.

I am not in anyway suggesting that the NPP has used the money for themselves or the party, but if a party was sending bowls around at their rally grounds for contribution just 7 years ago but can afford to share dollars at their congress today then your guess is right as mine. My humble plea to the president whom I have much respect for, is to make the plight of the Poor’s his priority during his last days in office, referring to microeconomics indicators, inflation and so on as a better Ghana and also using the standard of living of the few affluent to infer the general standard of living of Ghanaian is misleading and catalyst to send the NPP party into wilderness. Wake up Ghanaians, let’s stand for our right and see beyond tribal politics.

Education is the back bone of every developed country and thus any country which fails to develop its educational sector has less prospect of developing. In Ghana education takes 33% of our annual budget. NDC in its two terms depended on the budget allocated fund for the education sector while NPP in its two terms have the 33% of the budget and the 2.5% of the VAT (Getfund) by the virtue of Prof Mills’ wisdom for the same sector. Which of these parties have improved the sector, read my next article for the answer.