Business in Ghana

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One John Too Many

Posted by Business in Ghana on December 1, 2010

By Sydney Casely-Hayford, Sydney@bizghana.com

We are in a leadership crisis and it should not take a wizard to realize this.  Last week the President called on religious leaders to come to his side and help him fix he moral fabric of the country.  In his own admission, pastors and mallams have more clout with the congregation than he as President.  It was a passionate appeal and his wailing call was felt all over.  So much that he was nominated “Tornuu” of the week on JoyFm ‘s Weekend City Show.

Yesterday, 30th November, Vice President John Mahama joined the rest of Ghana to limply complain about the utility companies and their poor service, especially in water and electricity.  His whining call did not sit well with Ghanaians, because really, “na who cause am?”

Successive governments have stubbornly refused to call MD’s and utility boards to book over the years because they are political appointments.  The water shortages and electricity interruptions have been with us for as long as I matured into teenage forty-three years ago.  Both Managing Directors of the utility companies have stated publicly that they are hampered with outmoded equipment and they are severely cash strapped.  Government is the biggest culprit when it comes to paying its bills to contractors and service vendors and the finance policy of starving the economy of cash at the expense of macro indicators and pleasing the IMF statistics is the end result of the crisis in services.

But who is to blame?  President Mills seems out of touch with the everyday running of affairs in the country and John Mahama is all over the place locally and internationally.

We have lost a certain focus and purpose of direction.  It is not clear whether we have just initiated a class-assault budget or whether we have truly ushered in a pro-poor poverty alleviation program.

This country sorely needs to raise its tax revenue base and rope in much required revenue to meet recurring expenditure.  We must also shrink the size of government and reduce the burden on the national coffers.  One thing is very clear Ghanaians are not getting value for their tax cedis.  Missing from the budget is the potential revenue from State Enterprises that could have been divested.  The changes in Real Estate tax exemptions favored one company, STX.  That change alone deprives Ghana of a possible $750 million in taxes over the next 5 years (calculations available on request from Sydney@bizghana.com).  If Government really wanted to encourage low cost housing why could we not have either held the tax exemption or even increased it for companies providing low cost housing, valued to the public at say Ghc25,000 or less?

Without pre-empting the issues on VAT and Stamp taxes, these omitted details from the budget suggest that Government was testing the waters to gauge the backlash in the country before introducing further taxes.  The stamp taxes will go up and the impact will only affect the more financially vulnerable in society.

I don’t know too many rich people who spend their money on sachet water and yet Government talking heads are desperately trying to convince us that the changes in sachet water packaging is also a pro-poor agenda.

The crux of the problem dovetails into oil revenue management and our capacity to absorb the oil dollars as we realize cash.  The argument currently being made is to isolate the oil revenue and manage it independently of Government.  This implies that if we should discover platinum or iron ore in large quantities, say 10% of GDP, we will treat that separately as well, so Government can come to us with a failed agenda and blame the independent body of not supporting its agenda fully and thus the underdeveloped infrastructure.

This suggestion gives Government an excuse not to be accountable.  The wealth of the country is trusted to the government in power to demonstrate to us as a people how they will cater for our needs and improve our status.  A Government should ride or fail on its planned programs and execution of such.  We cannot successively carve out revenue territory and tie Government’s hands.  However, we must devolve laws to guide and control what Government does, hence a Revenue Act that is clear on Government’s limits.

This country is not ready to absorb an injection of so much cash.  True, we have an infrastructure shortfall, but before we go throwing more money at projects on the development board, someone please account to me for all the money we have borrowed over the years and that which we have been gifted.  Where has it really gone?  I don’t see it around me.

If you want to see a project that is going well in this country and is visible to everyday life, take a look at the Millennium Account project road from Obetsebi to Mallam junction.  Government does not manage this project.  Then if you want a face up with chaos, take a trip to Mallam junction any morning at 6.30am for the “3-mile jam”.  It should be a tourist attraction.  The irony here is one of them requires cash, the other only needs common sense and that has become an expensive commodity in Ghana.

We are spending our time on issues of fear and panic and complaining about the politics of insults.  We have laws against libel, slander and defamation of character in this country.  What more?

With so much “basaa-basaa” all over the place and rather than complaining about the perceived abuses of press freedom and insults and lack of services by government institutions, the two Johns could flex and use their authority to fix what their ministers are not doing, if they want to do some work.  We are in a leadership crisis, because our topmost two leaders are in a quagmire.

Maybe this country has seen too many Johns in office.  From Jerry John, to John Kufuor to John Mills and if we are not careful John Mahama?

 

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9 Responses to “One John Too Many”

  1. Oh my people when are we going to properly unite and hold our leaders accountable; instead of following blindly and praising them in all that they do. There are ministers, government employees (top guns) coming to London to purchase mansions, CASH!! Others using our hard earn money (tax) to enrich themselves. These are written everywhere for the people to see. 28 December 2010 is just some fewdays away, if your assembly member is not performing and chopping waa waa, vote him or her out. Think very carefully about 2012 election. Don’t vote like a fool. Think about your rights and what you want. Don’t follow the mass like a cork been carried along by the sea waves. Think and vote for a candidate who is not hungry to grab wealth but an MP and a president who have vision for the people and country. We are too blessed to be poor. The Johns have failed Mother Ghana! Trabalism has failed Mother Ghana! The Judiciary have failed Ghana! My people let’s wake up for we have had enough sleep. Arise people of Ghana and talk if you need to talk. Report if you need to report. Shout if you need to shout. Vote them out if you need to vote them out. “God will do, God will do” will not help. Arise and shine for your time has come! Brothes and Sisters.

  2. Kuluulu said

    Does one have to be a John, to lead this country? Akuffo Addo should consider adopting one more name if he wants to have an easy ride to the presidency.

  3. Billy said

    Mills is the best leader ghana has ever had only nkrumah was better,what do u term incompetence having stabilized the econeomy despite global economic meltdown,if akuffo addo had been in power ghana would have been in terrible shape if not civil war.so npp give credit where its due,mills will not spend money he does not have just to put us in a mess u have a choice in 2012 and the alternative is much worse what did addo achieve as foreign minister and attorney general nada,

  4. when a vice prez goes out there to assure Chinese investors that our yet to be outdored oil will be used a a collateral security, what do you expect. he is behaving as if he has authority over Ghana’s resources. They have sincerely disappointed Ghanaians. The so called deputy ministers are worse off, yet Mills is behaving as a blind leader. If he can’t see, can’t he hear? In fact Mills has been a biggest disappointment so far. No wonder Rawlings has been barking at him. He has surrounded himself with the boys who know nothing but jumping to defend any foolish allegation! Are we moving forward as a nation? As for John Mahama, he has been a disappointment to his own party faithfuls, look at what he has done, writing letters to Chinese companies assuring them of using out oil money for collateral, ei! God has to intervene. Only God knows the number of companies he has gone to assure them of using the oil for security! No position is permanent. the time will surely come!

  5. Aba said

    true this govt is a disappointment.Atta Mills is not in control. poor Ghana! we are waiting for2012

  6. Here lies the summation of the problem of our utilities and many public entities.

    Until we remove the power of the President to appoint CEOs of public entities and vest that power in a body that is NOT controlled by the Executive, we will not get the best from our public utilities and other public entities.

  7. It doesn’t matter what the first/western[christian] name or African name of any candidate is as far as the person is competent, capable, with the right leadership qualities to lead this nation.

    Probably, we the electorates are “One John Too Many”!

  8. Hon Quaye said

    Is Hayford worried about the conditions in the country or the names of our presidents? I do not think the names of our presidents has anything to do with the prevailing circumstances. Note that, not all Johns can become leaders except the blessed ones chosen by God.

  9. Koliko said

    ONLY NZEMA KWAME OR A NOTORIOUS NO NONSENSE MAN CAN RULE GHANA. WE ARE STILL SEARCHING.

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