Business in Ghana

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This Is Not Funny. Critical News, 29th June 2014

Posted by Business in Ghana on June 29, 2014

Sydney Casely-Hayford, sydney@bizghana.com

We finally made it into the abyss.  All week I was inundated with calls from, especially, the USA, where I set up my boast box four years ago, shouting through The New Ghanaian newspaper about how I was coming back home, urging all who were finding life in the US of A a bit tough, to ride, ride, ride with me back to the Motherland.

Let’s go add our voices, yell from Afadjato; Ghana is our only country and we are home to bring talent and open thought to the politics and business, plant some great footprints and challenge the youth to follow in our wake and make Ghana the place to be this 21st century.

So this week I ate humble pie.  After I zigzagged the streets of Adabraka for two hours looking for petrol, I bought forty cedis credit and apologized (dropping calls for more time than I spoke, cursing MTN in between) that I was not engaged in the inefficiency of this Government; but I cannot accept that it was as bad as the Kutu Acheampong and Rawlings PNDC early eighties time.

It was my only come back.

It was not funny.  I had to defend the NDC Government to save my own face and voice, and I am a firm critic of this economy.

You know, “Tweaa” can be a funny thing when you get closer to the story, “Joshua Water” in Parliament can make a laugh or two, a Woyome campaign song can bring much hilarity after several “Guinesses” have gone down, you can “kill two stones with one bird” and many other political gaffes can de-stress and keep us moving on.

When you cause a shortage of fuel and we queue for hours, seeking a new station every half-day, looking, searching, calling friends and wondering whether it is a real shortage or only some fuel stations hoarding petrol, because someone announced new price increases within two weeks, you have to show me the funny.

Government called in the strategic oil reserves.  This is the fuel shortage equivalent of calling in the National Guard to quell a Coup D’Tat.

So we finally sank to foggy bottom.  All week, Information Minister Mahama Ayariga was spinning why we are not in an economic crisis.  The President moved him to the Youth and Sports Ministry.

Fiifi Kwetey, welcome to the Ministry of Agriculture.  Here, real work has to be done.  No sit down, talk talk and get up to go to school.  Here in this Ministry, we expect to see results and it will show if we get hungry.  Here, the concept of all-inclusive blame does not show up and the macro statistics are not easily ignored.  You have at least two years if you stay on, don’t forget the President hires and fires at will, no explanation and I am here looking at you.  So, welcome.

We had a minor cabinet reshuffle as you can read above and all wrong doers are moved closer to the President for direct monitoring and supervision.  So Elvis Ankrah too, gone from Youth and Sports to be advised on how to do nothing.  Not that he needs any help, but since Fiifi’s coaching is complete, aahhh.

Yammin, kpiya! Moved closer to the North to help the Bimbilla case? except he stoops in Kumasi.  Hire and Fire President.  At will, no need to explain pesewa to anybody; we will speculate.

Parliament did not call the NPA into the ghc63,000 rent per month discussion, so we still do not know how to justify the expenditure, and do not know who owns the property.  I have an open invite from Mr. Moses Asaga, Head of the NPA to visit and ask all the questions I want.  So he said when he called into Citi Fm’s “The Big Issue” discussion on Saturday morning.

We were talking about the fuel shortage, the mess this Government has created and the pricing mechanism which is a tax burden, only alleviated by the Government tucking away the taxes we pay and calling it a subsidy when it pays the Bulk Distribution Companies (BDC’s) for pre-financing the supply of fuel.

Let me explain.  In the retail pump pricing calculation (calculated in dollars but charged on the consuming public in cedis), Government decides to absorb approximately thirty-eight pesewas per liter. It agrees with the BDC’s they will be paid at a later date.  The full amount per liter if paid with no deductions will make the pump price ghc3.11 at current values.

But because Government has decided that the richer (75% of high income earners benefit from the subsidies, while the 25% who need it most do not really benefit) need more cushion, they prefer to subsidize with money they do not have than pass the full cost down to the consumer.  Out of political expediency and vote “phishing”.

Then there is the differential due on the exchange rate fluctuations, because it is a foreign commodity and imports are converted from the dollar denominated cost.

Which is why Government has been subsidizing your fuel prices all this while because they are convinced that you and me would rather lower priced fuel, postponing the inevitable shortage, which is what we have now.

Preferably, we import fuel and defer payments due to a group of private entrepreneurs than invest in the Tema Oil Refinery and secure a better processing and delivery machinery.  That is what Government’s political strategy implies and calculates will guarantee them that re-vote, come 2016.

This NDC Government must learn that Ghanaians have matured in their wants.  Our needs must be satisfied first and if we have to pay more for those, we will.  But we insist on results and delivery.

We will not continue accepting the mediocre standards and promises never delivered all the way into election year.  I am angling for a well-balanced Ghanaian society that will punish politicians at the ballot box, without fear, ensure that any next government will be wary of the result of ineptitude and misleading us in the run-up to sticking thumbs on pieces of paper.

The fuel shortage is no game and it should be remembered all the way to voting time, which is why the opposition NPP must make such a meal out of it that we will have it face front when we look at the ballot paper two years on.

And it makes the NPP barbarians at the gate, wielding cutlasses to defend an eight cedi an hour watchman bill, pale with insignificance, even though it is equally stupid and so unnecessary.  Who wants to die from something as petty as this?

There is a lot of comment about how the NPP is killing itself when there are bigger matters on the table, in Parliament, whose members have had their diplomatic stripes shorn by the man who can do anything he wants in the country by the powers conferred on him by the constitution, and the support base is agonizing with impotence at the mere thought of a Congress yet to be held.

Fighting outside a gate to decide who mans the traffic?  Not funny at all.

The USA was meant to lose to Germany, Ghana would beat Portugal, the Lord would take a peak from the heavens and crown all the bible-wielding Charismatics, wrench them from the fanatical agony of all night vigilance and pass the Black Stars through to the next sixteen.

It did not happen and we are out, but not without a statement.  The World now knows that we can muster three million dollars cash on demand, we can jet-hire for half a million dollars and Sulley Muntari will slap, but not bite any of the fifty-seven odd chewers-on, whose cost we will never know.

And how did our President react?  He announced he would look into it when they get back and shuffled the outcome of the enquiry before they even flew from Brazillia.

Ghanaians read what you like in this event, ain’t nuttin gonna come outta it.

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

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