Business in Ghana

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Addicted To Free. Critical News, 4th May 2014

Posted by Business in Ghana on May 4, 2014

Sydney Casely-Hayford,

Not sure if I should really care if Lt. Col. Gbevlo Lartey has been sacked, transferred or side swiped.  I am not his biggest fan, the way he handled security issues and I was increasingly becoming concerned listening to his views on how community issues demand the attention of National Security.  And I have a few burning issues in my “Kume Preko” history I could discuss with him, judicial process allowing and if my confidence in citizen protection was far enough above ground.

So when I read he was no longer Security Coordinator, I kinda hoped it wouldn’t be one of those messages Government would come out and deny.  But true, he is out and a replacement has already been announced, unlike Victoria Hammah’s replacement, which only came this week.

Our southern neighbor and until recently the largest economy in Africa South, is in election fever. The ANC is under considerable pressure, perceived as corrupt and not delivering election promises (it rings a chord) but they have very little danger of an election loss.  Moving ahead, Mandela’s ANC and concerns of SA losing its status on the World stage, since Nigeria rebased their indicators and upstaged them, has become an election issue.  And they will fight back while the Black Star is losing its luminescence.

This thing about conflict of interest in Government business reared its head again in the SADA $74.5million lodged with Stanbic Bank.  Stanbic Bank MD and until recently Board Chair of SADA Mr Andani has been defending himself against more accusations by Deputy Minority Leader, Dominic Nitiwul.  His key fallback position is that as a non-executive director of the Board he does not have veto power.  True dat!  But, when the funds reach his bank he does have a big veto at the Risk Department and he can sign off or reject funds placed or released.

This was similar to the situation we had in the President’s blinkered conflict when he did not see that discussing his brother’s debt with the Board of a Bank, which debt was at the core of the bank’s failure was a conflict.

No conflict?  CHRAJ might explain it all when they receive their allocation of funding, which is backed into 2013.

I am surprised we are rejecting free trade arrangements seeing as we are so addicted to taking everything for free.   We love the idea that the EU is prepared to give us free grant assistance to improve production and raise our standards, but we want it to be done without free trade.

The Ghana Catholic Bishop’s Conference held on May Day, cautions Government not to rush to sign the EPA.  It has only been fourteen years since we started talking to the EU about this, so why the rush?  We have a challenge.  The EPA is worded in English.

The CPP also says we should not sign, and the TUC says do not sign in the present form.  Well, we need to jaw jaw this matter and get it over with in the next five months.  We better get going, because we will do one or the other.

The TUC and Government reached an agreement to improve salaries in line with inflation at 14.5%.  Maybe not by design, but the TUC just managed to keep workers marking income time from a derived number.  The real 60-80% cost increases in utilities, fuel, producer price of consumables seems to have been lost on them.

But Deputy Interior Minister Mr. James Amalga on Joy Fm Newsfile particularly overwhelmed me Saturday with two interesting positions.  One, that Government’s handle on corruption was unprecedented, I suppose in line with the unprecedented corruption and two, he appeared to be under the impression that Government has some responsibility to wages security in the informal sector.

Every time you say this James, you panic me to the marrow.  Government persons, who do not appreciate how money goes round, must talk to their appointed “agbalagba” consultant, Anita De Sosoo.  She knows how the dwarfs operate and where the money comes from and goes.  You should not go on a large platform such as this without seeking direction.

But Abdul Malik Kwaku Baako, put it succinctly.  “Na who cause am?  This is what Minister for Allied financial services (a job I am still trying to define) Mr. Fiifi Kwetey finds very painful to accept.  Every week there is this attempt to rope the collective Ghanaian into accepting responsibility for this economic mess.  And we have paid and continue to pay credentialed people to resolve a mess they directed in the recent five years and the previous nineteen.

Our Government is yelling hoarse to anyone within earshot that we should not be asking for wage increases despite all the jacked up tariffs and taxes.  NDC General Secretary Asiedu Nketia has been particularly loud, supported by other cheerleaders to cuff workers, blaming them for an unmanageable economy.

I say this is blackmail.  Blatant blackmail, especially when this Government is responsible for many milestone undeliverables, which had they focused and completed, could have made this crisis a small hiccup.

And so you don’t forget my “broken vinyl” piece, let me reiterate my points on this situation.  “Take off the political hat, don an economic and development “akapompo” and do these few things.

Decentralize effectively, bring the informal sector into the formal tax net, start a privatization process with SHS schools (Government must stop pretending to run and manage schools, there is competence in the private sector doing this better), plan a District Health devolution, again to the private sector, they are doing better here too, and focus on completing planned projects on time in line with budget.

Lastly prosecute the corruption magnates, Government or private; you know who I mean right?  Slant the economy toward the private sector, alleviate expenditure on the Government side and rake in taxes hitherto out of the net.  The 2012 education payroll was ghc4.5billion, health cost the Government ghc1.6billion.

So here is an example in recent memory.  The Gas processing plant was to be finished in 2012 and would give us cheaper gas and consequently, cheaper electricity.  As we stand, “n3ttin!”

Should the President dismiss Finance Minister Seth Terkper?  He hires and fires at his own will.  When I suggested that he tell us why he dismissed Deputy Minister Vicky Hammah, he told me it was none of my business.  So if he does not want my advice; Mr. Terkper can fix a few things still, but he is serving the better cause of stabilizing this economy for a next government.

President Mahama’s addiction to “free” needs a catharsis.   This free children shoes he promised last week in Kumasi is a problem.  And to feed the addiction further he took the opportunity to promise Otumfuo Osei Tutu II a free modern market. Eh Bei!  I agree he has not been able to give any freebies for a while, but there are numbers to be considered and I hope he looked at all this before planning this new budget line item.

Not forgetting that he will be providing free high school education starting 2015, this recent freebie poses another challenge for Jane Naana and Seth Terkper.

How many children, at what level, how often, hand me downs?  Local manufacture or imported?  Sole source contracting again?  GYEEDA module “Youth in School Children Shoes”?  So much for AGAMS and JOSPONG Groups to siphon.

As at 2013, there are 302k pupils in crèches, 1.604 million in kindergarten, 4.106 million in primary school, 1.452 million in JHS and about 760k in SHS.  That is 8.224 million.  Is this promise to every school child in Ghana?  Then at ghc10 a shoe, he suddenly added ghc8billion to his budget expenditure.  Are you sure Mr. President?  Just asking!  My figures are from the Ministry of Education website.

Mr Johnson Asiedu Nketia wants to FREE raid the statutorily protected Heritage Fund.  Because the Government is in financial dire straits.  Well, fortunately it is not available for the next twelve years.  They might try to change the law so they can forage for further poor value for money programs, but such is the mistrust in the way this economy is managed, Ghanaians are not even listening to this groveling.

Sadly, designer Kofi Ansah “damarifa due, due, due”.  He passed away Saturday, what a sad loss for the Ghana and Africa design worlds, his family and me personally.  We had plans Kofi, I don’t know where to turn next.  The wound is too fresh to express.

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

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