Business in Ghana

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The Recantation. Critical News, 22nd June 2014

Posted by Business in Ghana on June 22, 2014

Sydney Casely-Hayford, sydney@bizghana.com

It was a good idea to trip to the Accra Mall on Saturday.  Same day we expected to beat Germany to stay in contention to win the World Cup, and I was not surprised at the numbers I saw shopping and de-tensioning before the match later that night.

Nature blessed us, we have not had much rain lately, and the power supply has been more consistent.  I am not confident enough to lay the success of this temporary “dumsor” fully on the floor mats of VRA, GRIDCO, BUI and ECG; the gang of four who can’t seem to calculate how much supply we have unless they talk to the politicians.

So the timely intervention by almighty nature is a boon to all praying religions and their dedication to Brazillia.

My own prediction last week that the Black Stars would win 3-1 against the USA did not happen, and I was reminded by friends, family and readers, that I need to be more prayerful.

I am not egoistic enough to think that my added prayers alone would ensure world cup success.  If that were possible, I would mount a podium next to Duncan Williams and charge muchos dollars.

But I have been wondering.  Is there a thriving private economy from Government?  Analytically, isn’t the private sector functioning without Government?  It appears so, since all that Government does is make payroll and even that.  It seems to me that we are getting on with life despite Government being broke.

If Government is broke, we in the private sector don’t seem to be with them.  When, together with IMANi we start releasing a Reality Index, a better picture might emerge of how much cash really circulates in Ghana.

You see, if Government has hardly created much infrastructure in the last five years, yet we are still trading, apart from the recent tip over in the financial sector, I think much of the trickle down analysis we think sustains this country is nebulous.

Government has been cash strapped for a long time, and yes, it is tight, but the economy has not crashed.  Not booming, but by no means rock bottom.

Talking to a colleague of mine on this subject, it appears today’s politics and social interaction has changed the dynamics of economic activity and direction of money.

I have always maintained we must decentralize control and allow more private sector activity to take over centrally dominated finances.

And I think I am right, even though there are major political brick walls against full decentralization and some even balk at suggestions of Regionalism.  But unlike Galileo Galilei, I will not recant this belief.  I think it is what will save Ghana.

See what the Christians made Galileo recant 383 years ago this June.

I, Galileo, son of the late Vincenzo Galilei, Florentine, aged seventy years, arraigned personally before this tribunal, and kneeling before you, Most Eminent and Reverend Lord Cardinals, Inquisitors-General against heretical depravity throughout the entire Christian commonwealth, having before my eyes and touching with my hands, the Holy Gospels, swear that I have always believed, do believe, and by God’s help will in the future believe, all that is held, preached, and taught by the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. But whereas — after an injunction had been judicially intimated to me by this Holy Office, to the effect that I must altogether abandon the false opinion that the sun is the center of the world and immovable, and that the earth is not the center of the world, and moves, and that I must not hold, defend, or teach in any way whatsoever, verbally or in writing, the said false doctrine, and after it had been notified to me that the said doctrine was contrary to Holy Scripture — I wrote and printed a book in which I discuss this new doctrine already condemned, and adduce arguments of great cogency in its favor, without presenting any solution of these, and for this reason I have been pronounced by the Holy Office to be vehemently suspected of heresy, that is to say, of having held and believed that the Sun is the center of the world and immovable, and that the earth is not the center and moves:

I, the said Galileo Galilei, have abjured, sworn, promised, and bound myself as above; and in witness of the truth thereof I have with my own hand subscribed the present document of my abjuration, and recited it word for word at Rome, in the Convent of Minerva, this twenty-second day of June, 1633.

I, Galileo Galilei, have abjured as above with my own hand.

Bimbilla needs a forgiveness and reconciliation commission.  The North needs a reconciliation commission.  We must flush out all the old feelings of disapproval and distaste for one gate against the other and forge newer binds for future generations.  The old guard must find enough absolution in their hearts to purge ill will and hard positions and allow Northern Ghana to fulfill itself.

We either do this or we prosecute murderers and agitators swiftly and decisively to set the limits of criminal tolerance.

One way has to work and work completely and I suggest the softer reconciliation approach will be better suited to Ghanaian tastes.

We already forgave Jerry Rawlings and Nana Konadu, what else can we not do?

The VAT Act 870 is a sore point for me and it seems the parliamentary minority also tow that line.  The spokesperson on finance for the minority, Akoto Osei sounded this, reacting to pressure from party stalwarts who accused their Parliamentarians and the party of sleeping on their opposition brief.

I think the law is impractical in the first place, I also think the law is unnecessary and I think the law was railroaded and is still being railroaded, a difficulty we have in retracting bad regulations and laws.

If the cue from Central Bank is anything to go by, Ghana Revenue Authority in-charge, George Kuntu Blankson should be humble and avoid a court case by looking closer at what is in his stable.

Together with Franklin Codjoe and Theophilus Cudjoe (not related), we will file a petition with CHRAJ on the Subah Infosystems debacle very soon and follow with many more of such, until institution heads sit up and do what is right and not political mite.

But Government has finally seen some light in the more-than-enough calls for it to put in place mechanisms to tax the informal sector and do something proper with the more than 60% of GDP that sits outside our national accounts.

Talking about this recently, tax policy advisor at the finance ministry says to watch out for the changes in the 2015 budget statement to be read in November.  Don’t forget President Mahama will also show a “line item” for his version of free SHS in the same budget.

The National Petroleum Authority (NPA) rents office space for $63,000 a month and Minister of Energy Armah Kofi Buah has no idea of this transaction.  Well, we will see how this unfolds.  So far we know that former NPA CEO, Alex Mould signed the contract.  There are some vicious rumors going round, borders on keeping it in the family.

Who owns the property?  Parliament is going to ask some questions soon.  I just wonder if the NPA was aware that dealing in foreign currency is against the law in Ghana and did they deduct the 8% withholding tax for GRA in dollars?

I don’t even agree that we must have a separate body for petroleum revenue when we can capture all of that as a department within the Standards Board.  How many persons do we need to tell us what the average cost of a liter of fuel should be?  And we can do so much else with electronic media if we set our hearts to it.

I am not trivializing what they do; all I am saying is you can host them under an existing Institution and achieve better results, cheaper.

Yep, we still have an outsider’s chance of making it through, but the way Nigeria played last night against Bosnia, if we don’t get there, Green Eagles, may the force be with you.  Boy, talk of an attacking game.  You go Keshie!.

USA must lose their last two games.  Lord, look upon the poor souls and forgive those who do not believe.  Me first.

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

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