Business in Ghana

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One Casket Too Many. Critical News, 18th May 2014

Posted by Business in Ghana on May 18, 2014

Sydney Casely-Hayford,

I lost my sense of humor after I spent three challenging days with Paul Victor Obeng, someone I did not take to in the PNDC days but subsequently after his departure from that Junta, I met often and appreciated better the challenges of managing a party which made up its ideology as it went along; more in-fighting than out-managing the affairs of state.  Fondly, as PV, he explained more to me about the inside dynamics of governance than I dare write.

This past week we joked about your memoirs and when it would be ready, we watched Bukom Banku win a fight well into the night while I censured you for staying up too late, to, once again be in the youth space.  When you pitched words throughout the commentary to one Azonto song or the other, we all laughed with and at you.

But we parted Akosombo as you went off to meet with the Ministry of Finance team to urge them to speed up work on the Public Private Partnership law, now a necessary pillar of the Senchi turnaround strategy.

PV what can I say to make it easy on those you have left behind.  Following Kofi Ansah and Asenso Okyere, I don’t think I can find a casket your size in Ghana.  May you rest in peace.  Damirifa due due.  Damirifa due.

The week was dominated by stories from the National Economic Forum held at the Royal Senchi Resort near Akosombo, where we were “senchified” with the letters “RSR”.  For my compatriot Franklin Codjoe and myself, we found a meeting of minds so experienced; we simply soaked the knowledge and contributed our quota as required.

There has been variety in commentary since then, some focused only on what it cost to, in their minds “regurgitate” what we all know are the problems in Ghana.  And they are right.  Before we (140 participants) assembled at the Resort, we were in no doubt that we were going to talk old palm wine in old calabashes.  The only new ingredient was the resort.

Traditionally, these events are held at the Volta Hotel in Akosombo, but the change was refreshing.  The Royal Senchi is a fine resort, comparable to most I have stayed at anywhere in the world and it was a refreshing change to be attended to by a very well trained, staffed and excellently managed Ghanaian team.  I found nothing to complain about throughout the stay.

The event ended a day earlier than planned and that put a strain on procedures.  President Mahama was late for the opening and late again for the closing.  He held us up three hours to start, two and half hours to end.

I have not been to many State functions, but I heard it is a habitual thing, that we still marvel if a program starts on time.  If some things were not said at Senchi, this was one of them.  The nonchalant Ghanaian, and he is the lead.

And that is one of the problems and what Senchi was all about.  We all know the problems are there, we skirt around them by labeling them “challenges” and assume that because we have written up what we believe is the solution, the problem is solved.  Key to the issue is the discontinuum in our equatorial zone.  Our country that sits in the center of the world, has no concern for how time revolves around us.

We came away with a bulletin of twenty-two points now handed over to the politicians, willing them on to make the recommended fixes, that are not new, but which if attended to diligently and as a matter of urgent priority should address the impossible circumstances.

Make no mistake about it we are in a terrible bind.  We do not have enough revenue to meet our expenses and we cannot borrow our way out of this mess because the cost of borrowing on the international markets is too expensive for us, a reflection of the poor economic management and sheer lack of trustworthiness of Government.

The donor community, the markets and the people of Ghana judge Government based on results reflected in the power supply, water delivery, garbage on road sides and basic social amenities, which we take for granted because we are a lower middle income economy and so it must be.

We are concavo-convex in economic outlook, treating budget messages to Ghanaians as dwarf potions achievable through the condescending strategies we announce and then look through the other side when we fail to achieve the deliverables because we simply did not get to do things on time.

But inviting us to Senchi, the Government sand banked its political fortunes.  Some media cynics say it was a ploy to buy more time for failure.  There is a point in that, but it also strings a “22 bulletin” credibility knot. The NDC Government now has to live up to the needs of all stakeholders with no wiggle room.  I particularly liked this commentary by Dr. Yaw Ohemeng on the Forum he positions his thoughts very clearly.

Unlike other times, the Senchi consensus is already in the media.  Every radio and TV station as well as print, has a copy in circulation and we are all focused on the lines delivered by lead raporteur Patrick Awuah of Ashesi University.

Did the NPP need to boycott the event?  It was their call.  We are adversarial in politics, and for as long as that is so, I see no reason why I would go and aid my opponent with ideas to enable them to solve their economic woes and take the credit to my chagrin.  They will make their case to their supporters and manage the political fall out if any.  Would NPP attending have finally nailed the casket of adversarial politics?  I don’t think so!

And that is another bane of discontent.  In an attempt to convey the image of a so peace loving nation, we are in danger of subsuming our creativity into yet again a “Kutu Acheampong UNIGOV” ideology, which when mooted, was thrown out by an informed Ghanaian electorate.  We are leaning into a one-mind planning institution to dictate development to all parties.  I don’t see how it will work but I will suppose its effects, if nothing will give Ghanaians a sense of stability and further grounding.

The ire of the Muslim faith was not lost on me last week, as I took my fair share of criticism, but out of it all, I came away with one point, that Islam is a perfect religion and cannot be flawed in any way.  I am reliably informed that the Muslim community are on a march this morning (Sunday 18) to present a petition to their chief Cleric regarding Boko Haram.  I am not arrogant enough to say it has anything to do with me.

We will address the corruption deal at Subah Infosolutions in the coming week.  The Committee report on the contract doled out and paid, for no work done is yet again an example of how this Government takes us for idiots.  With CHRAJ legs lost in a fire, punished with no money to operate, we must still go ahead and file petitions for investigation.  So much faith hinges on this Institution I shudder at how Government has tactically disabled and casket-sealed our rights.

Bukom Banku came to put Ayittey Powers in a casket, but Ayittey came to stay the course.  The conditioning was evident from start and for the first six rounds the bout lived to expectation.  Banku came into play to bury the TB Joshua warrior, but all credit to Powers, he lasted the night and lived to call for a rematch.  The stadium was full, JJ alone took one and a half chairs, leaving half for Nana Konadu, while Azumah Nelson looked on with fading memories, his days curled at the corners of his mouth.

The fight looked like a financial success, stadium full to the brim despite the economy and the ban on drumming by the Ga State jockeying for print space.  But it was worth the watch, my ticket was not wasted, I found a desperate buyer at the last minute, while I labored at the Royal Senchi.

We need the old Hearts/Oly rivalry back, Dwarfs/Vipers and something to be done about boosting stadium gate proceeds in this country.  Wither the sports promoters?  Are they listening?  And seeing?

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

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