Business in Ghana

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Precious Democracy. Critical News, 27th July 2014

Posted by Business in Ghana on July 27, 2014

Sydney Casely-Hayford, sydney@bizghana.com

My Saturday turned leisurely after we made interesting protest to Government, especially regarding the ballooning cost of living and with Organised Labor’s huge march on Thursday, we drilled the point home.

So I took time out and watched a couple of great movies and ruined my vegetating mind with “The Constant Gardener” and “12 Years a Slave”.

If you have not had the pleasure of either, I won’t ruin the story for you. But I got to thinking how important freedom and how critical a fight for justice against corruption.

So here is the Wikepedia opening definition of wisdom. See if you can fault it as a guide to a better human.

“Wisdom is the ability to think and act using knowledge, experience, understanding, common sense, and insight. Wisdom has been regarded as one of four cardinal virtues; and as a virtue, it is a habit or disposition to perform the action with the highest degree of adequacy under any given circumstance. This implies a possession of knowledge or the seeking thereof in order to apply it to the given circumstance. This involves an understanding of people, things, events, situations, and the willingness as well as the ability to apply perception, judgment, and action in keeping with the understanding of what is the optimal course of action. It often requires control of one’s emotional reactions (the “passions“) so that the universal principle of reason prevails to determine one’s action. In short, wisdom is a disposition to find the truth coupled with an optimum judgment as to what actions should be taken in order to deliver the correct outcome.”

We are asking for sincere and responsible governance. Governance where we do not just sit with the written words of a constitution, but do what is right because it is judgmentally correct to do.

The writing of sages and philosophers are crafted from wisdom, and wisdom comes at a price, as does democracy.

And this Saturday, “The Big Issue” on Citifm pulled many comments, especially from those against the demo, who were in the minority, yelling at me panelist to stop encouraging demonstrations, and allow John D. Mahama to do as he pleases. Tank the economy and make this country more destitute than when he took over Government?

The poorer than previous economy evidence was provided by Finance Minister Seth Terkper, when he presented his mid-term review and offered revised macro indicators, each one of them worse than previous years; and rather than offering to reduce expenditure, he requested additional spending authority.

It paints a stubborn picture. Government is cash strapped, but they intend to borrow from International as well as domestic sources and will use as much of the petroleum revenue funds as is available through statute to continue spending, amid rising costs and especially, meeting payroll.

So it is not that anyone in the country is refusing to support Government, this Government refuses to support itself with simple solutions to manage spending.

We have a right to demand better economic solutions. Government knows this and is asking Ghana to be more patient yet. Allowing that this is a re-constituted Government, we have waited since 2013 or 2009. How much more time should it take before we arrive at that point where we have enough trust to leave the protests and just get on with life?

What I can’t understand about the non-demonstration argument is, if we don’t exercise that right to protest our pain, what should we do? Parliament is not in a position to help; we have a virtual dictatorship since none of them vote against party currents; the court process is “independent-judgment” uncertain, and we have unassailable redress through CHRAJ. You can’t even trust the Attorney-General to show up in court with proper evidence to defend its core client.

So on Thursday, Organised Labor was joined by Concerned Ghanaians for Responsible Government (CGRG) as well as all RedFriday supporters and rallied to protest various problems, which the Government conveniently calls temporary challenges.

Since the first Occupy Flagstaff house campaign and Red Friday call, the visual protest movement is gaining its own momentum. It achieved significant coverage and made a lot of International headlines. So much so that, a news piece broke out that Minister of Finance Seth Terkper and Economic advisor to Government Dr. Nii Moi Thompson are on opposite sides of the team on how to fix the problems.

And there is no answer from Government.

In its simple way, Government has no alternative for increasing its revenue streams. It can rope in the informal sector and tax them properly, which it has left too late if it is looking at 2016, because it is at least an eighteen month program; put in a proper addressing system so you can trace recalcitrants, levy the correct taxes, educate the illiterate and semi-literate, implement an electronic system of sorts to manage tax collecting efforts affordably and eliminate as much cash handling and personal interference as possible.

And if I say eighteen months, I have probably understated the roll out. So this source will not feed the cash-starved coffers tomorrow.

The alternative Government has chosen, to borrow today, pay later tomorrow is short term and a bad decision for an already over-burdened debt-laden fiscal imbalance.

They need to cut costs or outsource services to the private sector to get immediate results. I think Government must re-think the education sector and support more private business involvement. A voucher system that pays for every child, provided parents have contributed their taxes (no matter how meager) is a good and basic way to kick off.

Look at the health sector as well and trim Government involvement. If we maintain only regional hospitals under Government management and allow private sector to buy and run district and municipal hospitals, we will get more efficiency and together with a vibrant national health scheme, we can make headway.

Provided Government stops playing games with statutory funds to the Institutions.

I was hoping that since Mr. Nyamah won the case to force Government to pay up the monies held back to the GETFUND, he would pursue the next funds such as District Assembly Common Funds etc.

Between education and health, Government payroll and allowances per the auditor General’s report for 2012 was ghc6.1billion. Government can shave off at least two-thirds of this sum from its expenses. But alas, no courage and conviction of sound business.

And we have to name the streets and number the houses. It is amazing how such a small solution is eluding us. I reported in another Critical News blog, that we have done all this work already, including a road map on how to zone, zip code and number. It will be so easy to grab a few thousand unemployed graduates and get this done in six months.

And whilst at it, we could lean into the Land Administration Project and geo-tag the homes, zones and land coordinates. Sometimes you have to wonder what occupies the minds of the administrators.

So no wonder the Donors are fed up with this Government. So much money given for so much to be done and we have either not used the funds, or we have plunked it into private pockets with nothing to show as economic benefit to the people.

We love poverty nets and underprivileged care programs because they are the perfect conduits for passing bucks to political favorites.

And while the streets were agog with protestors, someone sneaked in the Senchi report with poor grammar and a bad reflection of what we actually spoke about for four days. Oh boy!

My pride for my country is I can write a piece like this, criticize my government, fellow citizens read and appreciate or not, the content, and will make a choice to carry on with this Government or turn them out to pasture.

Meanwhile we carry on our active, non-street demonstrations.

I am pushing all concerned citizens to come out in red every Friday. You can but don’t have to wear a red shirt or dress. Accessorise the color. Wear red earrings; don a red scarf, red shoes, red socks, red kabba or even a red armband. Anything, that tells your fellow Ghanaian you care about what is going on and you want a change.

Nobody is asking for Government to step down, nobody is asking for regime change. We want a better life and better conditions. We want to preserve our democracy, because we want to be free and we want justice.

There is a price for freedom and it does not have to be violent. A constant reminder to Government of our disaffection will make change. REDDIT.

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

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