Business in Ghana

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Fear Not, NDC Got Your Back. Critical News, 15th June 2014

Posted by Business in Ghana on June 15, 2014

Sydney Casely-Hayford,

I reconnected with my very good friend Adams during the week.  He called; we arranged lunch and met at the Imperial Peking to catch up on long past jokes from the Zoology department where we spent many an afternoon trying to understand snakes and snails, Legon-style.

It was a good lunch, we explored all the possibilities on the menu and finally settled for shrimp fried rice, soup noodles and wonton soup starter.  Made a big difference from my usual chop bar banku and okro soup or fufu from around the corner at Asylum Down.

Adams is an NDC faithful, comes from dedicated party stock and we were reminiscing about days gone by and the observed habits of the red ant from Mango and Neem trees; the things people discuss at lunch, eh?

We avoid talking politics, because we have had too many historical run-ins, but unfortunately, today’s lunch was to be an exception.

So I was recanting how I recently noticed trains of Solenopsis invicta (or red fire ants for those of you who did not take zoology seriously), in single line convoying from one end of my driveway to the other.  I found this rather strange, because red ants don’t often leave their residencies, preferring to create mounds to protect their Queen.

They are a very busy lot, strategically organized in defense and attack.  Created not to die too easily, they breathe through a system of tracheal tubes, able to revive gases to the double bulbs connecting internal organs and tissue.

So we are being academic and really getting into the subject when we are interrupted by a group of Daily Guide readers who recognize me from my page 28 column and also a few appearances on TV.

I end courtesies and return to Adams, who pops me a left hook question, throws me off and I reel back, bowled over.

“Have you heard that Nana Addo will be using a helicopter for his campaign this year?”

“What?  We were just bifurcating the habits of the Red Fire Ant”

“Yes it was when you mentioned them convoying that made me remember”

From that point, the lunch conversation descended into a political catacomb.  Unable to agree on the history of political evolution in the country, me adamant about how Coup de tats had hurt us, he defensibly on the point of probity, accountability and transparency, if not for JJ we would not be here to witness unfolding events, we finished the noodles and I left him to pick up the tab.

After all he had some unaccounted for imprest.

And now I think I understand NDC strategy.  To some extent.  The most important thing Adams lunched me, is to deny that anything wrong ever happened during the JJ era.

Then you reinforce the concept of everything in place for tomorrow and you will see the effects of massive benefits from planning on or before voting time.  But you must allow time to finish all things started, since most of them span voting period years.

If you can do this, you will understand how the great strategy will unfold.

In the meantime, do not admit any wrong, don’t accept any criticism and make it clear that no other Government has done anything for this country except “Our Great Party”.  We have been in government for the longest and anything good this country has, is from us.

All this came to me after our lunch and I was lying awake, three in the morning, wondering how to interpret the Fitch accusation that the Bank of Ghana has been printing money to hold up Government spending.

Because if it is true the BoG has been supporting Government’s addiction to budget deficits then we are readying to exhume Kutu Acheampong, the architect of green printing.

But Vice President Ammissah Arthur’s explanation on the Fitch downgrading of our credit rating and the BoG’s currency printing caught my attention.  There is nothing much to worry about, the NDC knew they were going to face a difficult 2014, which is why they put in place many measures to ensure take-off after this year.  Never mind that we had the 2011 turn around year and many others before, we have to just see 2014 through and all will be well.  They got your back.

The BoG freed up the currency market, added better concessions than expected.  It restored some of my confidence that over a trial period, we will extricate ourselves from the poor advice and decisions we make for political expediency.  I am assuming that the BoG asserted its independence on this.

Will the cedi strengthen against major currencies?  It shouldn’t, but it can find a sensible level while we wean ourselves off this egotism that we have a currency that is one third as powerful as the US dollar and a fifth as strong as the UK pound.

Why are we stuck in this colonial mentality that we must have a currency just as strong as any of the super powers?  Can our governors “sankofa” some of the measures we have used and reflect on basic economic principles? match them to reality?

But not to worry, NDC got your back.  Measures are in place to restore the cedi to its rightful value (which value we don’t know, but I calculate between 5/6 cedis:US1).

In responding to the Fitch cataclysm, the Central Bank accepted that there had been “technical” currency printing, but only for the purpose of supporting Government over-expenditure.  They will “techni-print” again in the last quarter of the year, so not to worry, BoG and NDC got your back.

I have this idea that we step away from the old fashioned notion of pivoting in one currency and allow all major trade currencies to be accepted and saved in FEA/FCA accounts without prejudice.  Isn’t the ultimate to have all currencies available to travelers and business as they pass through the country?

In my opinion, the way forward is electronic and we have to figure it out.  Dollars, Euros, Yuan, Naira, CFA, Rand and British pounds should be accepted from non-residents.  These are now our key trade currencies.  We want to make it easy for us and them to travel between each other’s financial territories and not need to re-exchange currency from dollars every time.

The Ghana Revenue Authority is confusing us with this ridiculous Vat Act 870, imposed on fees, commissions and charges.

I was on Joy fm with the GRA trying to understand this core and non-core activity previously touted by the Ministry of Finance to explain the basis for the tax on financial service fees.  Nobody understands what the GRA is going on about and it is very clear we have a bad law, which we might not be able to implement.

So how do we get the Act withdrawn?  Parliament finally came back from recess after taking a “no-cash break”.  Of course Government denies this challenge, it is only because a few of them traveled and could not make it back to their seats in time.  I wish I were younger and employed; it would be a good reason to give to my employer to hasten my dismissal.

But the NDC got your back.  It is not only Parliament who has the challenge, CHRAJ got no money, various statutory funded Institutions also got nothing, it is a small challenge, it has lasted only since 2009 and measures are in place to get some cash. It could be IMF or Euro bond.  They got your back.

Energy matters.  Dumsor is not traveling soon, here to stay for at least another five years, so brace yourself and find an affordable solution to your power needs.  Until we are able to take politician’s hands off the institutions, we are not going to fix the problems with the financial arrangements in place.

The Royal Senchi report from the National Economic Forum, went away with PV Obeng’s death.  So said Dr. Apaak past Saturday, so do not expect anything soon.  His body is yet to be put six feet under.  Yet not to worry, they got our back, somehow, we will publish and implement, just like the Constitution Review report.

And like my red ants, NDC foot soldier tubes fire life into the party, despite the number of times they self-destruct and run riot.  They always got your back.  Just believe.

We play the USA on Monday coming.  Ghana 3, USA 1.  Watch this space.

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

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