Business in Ghana

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Dumso Dumso Go Away, Big Johnny Wants To Play. Critical News, 2nd March 2014

Posted by Business in Ghana on March 2, 2014

Sydney Casely-Hayford, sydney@bizghana.com

All last night I tossed and turned, many problems on my mind, top of the list my failing water supply, to buy another tanker load this week and the now permanent Tuesday light out between 6.30 and 11pm added to the unpredictable shut-offs every so often.  I have work pressure as well, many deadlines crowding my computer top and I stayed up most of the night wondering how to come up with schemes to motivate staff without paying more cash.

So I tackled the Sunday morning walk up McCarthy Hill with gusto, intent on burning off stress, depressing memories of the State of the Nation address still fore in my mind.

But thank God for the people who “ga mashie’d” up the hill on Sunday.  I just made the turning up the Jayee University pike, where the religious types were already delivering some poor soul from evil at 6.10am.  Shaking my head, caught up in the tenacity of neo-Christian dedication, I just but avoided a collision with foot-stamping Bukom Banku joggers rhythmically “azonto-ing” their way on up.  I fell in line and matched them foot-to-foot as we merrily put music to the stamina build up.

It was a good stomping and stepping to a miniaturized MP3 player hooked to the belt of leader Nii, well titivated in a yellow and black striped t-shirt, matching baggy pants and shoes as only an Accra man can.

We arrived at the top of Royal Palm Avenue, turned right to start the down hill descent and whoa!, the Ayittey Powers contingent were surging up the hill with a bigger sound and larger crowd, traffic blaring behind them, no Dovlo-care in the world.

What fun and games.  We stopped; they ground to a screeching semi-circle, no dolby sound-surround required.  Now we were in an unpracticed call out, and I love my Ga peeps.  Improvisation, made up slogans and natural leaders took up the affront to the Sunday peace.  We sang and danced the next thirty minutes, laughed with ourselves and won the impending April fight with praises to our banku hero.  When we parted at the bottom of the hill, many were those who trembled at the mention of the great boxer philosopher.  As Nii quoted Bukom, “if you live in a forest long, you will never become a vulture”.

No one attempted an explanation.  Only Bukom knows.  Guys, I will see you next Sunday.

Banku and Ayittey will fight for supremacy in April.  There will be a referee, an independent one, the supporters will cheer their favorite and will also be judges outside the ring.  If we have a clear knockout, there will be no fuss.  If it turns to a unanimous decision, there might be some confusion, especially if the judges are not above suspicion.  Whichever way, we will talk about it for quite some time but we will not rampage and blow up houses or shops.  A concurrent end to affairs.

Why don’t we do same in our politics?

On Tuesday, President John Mahama delivered his State of the Nation Address.  (You can get a copy of the full text from here)  His joking and the weak content delivery belie the State of our President’s mind.  A school prefect in the assembly hall, headmaster at the back, allowing his favorite prefect to trample his authority.  We are waiting for President Mahama to catch up to Ghana.  We already know what our leader needs to do to solve our problems. We have known for a long time.  For example discovering Horseman Shoes and Mobile Water last week is four years after most of us know.

Greek “Ananse-Sem” story teller, Aesop has a good fable about a dog and his master.   The dog was waiting at the door wagging his tail.  The master asks him “what are you wagging your tail for”?  The dog already knew a hunt was underway when he saw the farmer reach for his rifle, but the master even though he was to lead the way was many steps behind the faithful servant.

Our expectations from politicians are now elevated beyond a plateau they can meet.  As time creeps on, we are beginning to see a crop of Parliamentarians and Ministers who are falling further and further behind the people of this State.  We are asking for solutions to the problems and not a regurgitation of the issues, presented to us as if we caused the problems and politicians have to fix them.

More and more I am hearing the argument from Ministers of State and it is such a dereliction of duty I am baffled what we are being taken for.  We waited for the President to tell us how he would fix the problems they call “challenges” and in my life, he came up with nothing I have not heard before.  That we import $1.6billion worth of substitutable products is no secret.  If you just discovered it, then welcome to Ghana Mr. President.

Now the mantra by Government officials is that the underlying economic fundamentals are sound.  Yet not one of them knows what these economic fundamentals mean.

The IMF gives us a bit more insight into the economy with their latest release on the 2014 Article IV release past Wednesday. What they said is in complete contrast to our Government’s sentiments.

Here are two critical paragraphs from the IMF Consultative report:  “Ghana’s economy slowed down on the back of sizable external and fiscal imbalances and energy disruptions in the first half of the year. Based on data for the first three quarters of 2013, the mission estimates growth of 5½ percent—well below the levels of recent years. On the fiscal side, revenue shortfalls, overruns in the wage bill, and rising interest costs pushed the 2013 deficit to 10.9 percent of GDP, versus a target of 9 percent. The overrun would have been higher in the absence of significant revenue measures, the elimination of fuel subsidies, large increases in utility prices, and compression of other expenditure. The large fiscal deficit combined with a weaker external environment, led to a widening of the current account deficit to 13 percent of GDP and to further pressure on international reserves. The consequent weakening of the cedi together with large administered price increases contributed to inflation rising above the end-year target range to 13.5 percent.

“The weakening growth momentum and inflationary pressures are expected to continue into 2014, calling for urgent measures to address macroeconomic imbalances. In the absence of further measures, the mission sees the fiscal deficit target of 8.5 percent of GDP at risk. This, combined with a weak outlook for gold prices, would also keep the current account deficit at high levels.”

Which sentence here do you interpret as sound economic fundamentals?  Read the full report from here.

Three pretty young ladies went shopping.  They chose Mr Price at the Accra Mall.  For some reason yet unknown, they stole panties and were caught.  The security guard made them crawl to the exit of the Mall as punishment in exchange for handing them over to the police.  They took the punishment and crawled.  Human Rights activists were legitimately upset and made a lot of noise about the maltreatment.   Then Jerry John also gets up and he condemns the security guard.  Is this not what they learnt from JJ’s time in charge?  That men in uniform can do just about anything and walk?  Beating market women and exposing their private parts? Even shooting people at the stake?  Such moral decadence.

Some managers of public toilets in Sekondi Takoradi put “sh*****g” costs up 50%.  They blamed the depreciating cedi and general cost of living in Ghana.  Good thing we will all be eating less and maybe going less.

And the Legon Dons requested that Government remove Gbevlo Lartey from office.  What are the chances of this happening?

So Big Johnny went to Parliament to play and after decided to start a tour of Regions from the Central Region.  Made some noises about Galamsey, moved on to the colleges and started selling his newly found free SHS program.  And the rest of the body politic shouted “Steelers”!  It is merely progressively constitutional.

Ghana, Aha a ye de papa.  Alius valde week advenio. Another great week to come!

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