Business in Ghana

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Budget For A Kraal. Critical News, 30th November 2014

Posted by Business in Ghana on November 30, 2014

Sydney Casely-Hayford, sydney@bizghana.com

I lost my Uncle last Monday 24th November. He died of a cancer of the pancreas. I will remember him fondly for all the good time spent at Akosombo and the deep intellectual discussions late into the night during difficult formative years and much as I would have hoped for a longer association, his time on this earth was well spent.

I hope he will be remembered by all Ghanaians for his contribution to the development of the Akosombo enclave and his many spats with other developers as he pushed one agenda after the other in order that we grew an organization of well trained staff capable of managing even when he, as he then envisaged would move on and create other opportunities for those after him.

Uncle Louis was a fun-loving person, full of jokes, with the cheekiest smile you could ever wish for.

May his soul rest in peace.

I have to talk about the budget and where this country is heading. But there are so many issues crisscrossing my way I need to vent a little.

This Centaurides Ruby Angel girl just broke the record in UK statutes this week. I was most fascinated when I heard that the customs law in the UK does not have a statutorily determined term time for class A drugs above 5Kg. That limit attracts a sentence of ten years. Above that, it is left to the discretion of the law.

So Ruby put us in the history of hard drugs, but not without help. She herded us into an arena, where we read only of the intrigue, flights of imagination, drug barons with high political influence, where most of us would not even toe-dip our big African foot.

In Afrikaans, a Dutch word for an enclosure for cattle or other livestock, located within an African settlement or village and surrounded by a fence of thorn-bush branches, a mud wall, or other fencing, roughly circular in form is called a Kraal.

As we retain all things anathema to the world, we are fencing ourselves into Kraal mentality. Open drains, garbage all around us, dumsor electricity, sporadic water, potholes, poor health care, chronic budget deficits, international rescue packages, and I can go down the list some more.

Where do we break the vicious cycle and who is the person to make the first incision?

Someone suggested in a program on Amansan TV Saturday night that we should not politicize the issue of drugs. And I ask why not?

From all the gossip, doesn’t it look like Ruby was connected to many persons in government as well as the President’s brother Ibrahim Mahama?

Last week Saturday on The Big Issue, Kennedy Agyapong threw down a gauntlet for Ibrahim to publicly deny that he and Ruby are “friends”. I haven’t heard a denial yet, so in case I missed it, could I be reminded?

I am very troubled that we give so much authority to the President of this country to reward incompetent persons and re-assign competence. There is this conspiracy angle, that the preferred way to govern illiterates is to keep them in the dark, (not the dumsor type) but literary darkness, proffer them an Azonto beat with a touch of white dust and we are kraalled.

I don’t buy into many conspiracy theories and this one is particularly way up there on the scaffolding of incredulity. I like to think that solutions are simple if you break them down to first principles and attack the root cause of the issues as you roll.

Take as an example our dilemma on common sense. Ghana is a small country. It really does not have much beauty when compared to other tourist destinations in Sub-Sahara Africa.

With twenty-seven million people, we can hardly become a superior economic power unless our per capita leaps with some oil and gas find.

The services sector is showing good potential, creating many avenues for nimble youth with skills that can parallel any in the world, and needing minimal capital and physical resource.

Why then are we not doing more in that direction? Why is the 2015 budget, “Transformational Agenda: Securing the Bright Medium Term Prospects of the Economy” rather shrinking economic growth from 14.4% in 2011 to 9.4% in 2012, 8% in 2013, 8% in 2014 and now 3.9% in 2015? 3.9% economic growth is kraal mentality.

Economic activity is down, the size of the economy is reduced and we have crafted a defensive budget with very little prospects for the future. It seems the NDC needs to come back in 2016 to crow how they exceeded all the targets they set in 2015, a precursor to an election campaign.

But I can’t let this go without addressing the Soli matter, which Occupy Ghana has outed and coincidentally was mentioned in a speech by the British High Commissioner Jon Benjamin at the Imani 10th Anniversary dinner, Alisa Hotel on Thursday.

My opinion is, Soli is a corrupt and unprofessional contagion of truth and accuracy, which the fourth realm of the Republic must ensure we remove in order to rely on credible events by trained persons, who carry the badge of journalist.

What can we believe in a story if you constantly worry about whether the journalist has slanted the story in order to convey a “soli-ist” point, in place of the real deal.

I won’t dwell on the spat I had with previously good friend, now enemy, Paul Adom Okyere on Citifm’s The Big Issue. My sarcastic comment pricked something in him, made him come at me with all the kilowatt-venom he could muster and in the process disrupted the ECG load-shedding program for the week.

I am sure if Paul had listened to the program himself instead of reacting to what someone told him, he and I might still be friends.

As it is, we are now sworn enemies till death, unless we take our mutual apologies on air to heart and mature up.

We are fighting a corruption canker in this country and Africa. If all of us who determinedly want to eliminate corruption from our society or shunt it down to the barest minimum can stand up and join a cause dedicated to bettering our lot, we will move the politicians aside and develop better mindsets to economic progress.

The World Bank reports we lose about 10% of all our GDP to corruption. And I hope that figure includes sheer theft of resources. If you are allocated a government house and you spend the taxpayer’s money to renovate it to your personal taste and while doing so, you couch down in a luxurious hotel in protest of the pace of completing your grandiose dream home, I call it theft. Who dis cap fit?

When the appointed bastion of my rights cannot see that as corruption, we have transcending issues in integrity.

Our defining moment is here. A Ghanaian with an Austrian passport smuggled a record amount of cocaine (she pleads guilty) into one of the world’s most secure drug regulated airports. She did it because she had the confidence she would succeed, confidence born out of diplomatic and personal cover, all the way to the top of a political ladder.

Shouldn’t we be concerned that at this point, nobody can tell us who are her accomplices? Not the other two who have been arrested and stored away in a soundproof chamber where we can’t get access to ask relevant questions.

Kraal Ghana. Our economy is shrinking. We are transforming into a small collection of human cattle, stockaded in urban cities, drifting from any hope to restore confidence in our abilities to manage our own affairs.

It used to be, that you would not dare suggest in public that the black man is maybe not capable of managing his own affairs. It used to be sacrilege, that you would question the genetic make up of the black, our inability to understand our future, how to plan and repack our place in society to make it more meaningful and applicable to ourselves.

This week I sat on a radio program with Mr. Twum Barima and he is not the first to bring up the big issue. Are we genetically and morally too bankrupt to work this out?

Ghana, Aha a ye din papa. Alius atrox week advenio. Another terrible week to come!

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