Business in Ghana

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In A Bad Mood-y. Critical News, 22nd March 2015

Posted by Business in Ghana on March 22, 2015

Sydney Casely-Hayford, sydney@bizghana.com

I was a reluctant walker up McCarthy Hill this morning. Very tired from a late night blitz, after one bottle of Guinness and some “rice and plasas”, I traipsed home to the now inevitable “dumsor” and lived with the gloom of a life I did not ask for but choose to be in.

Tired legs and an aging body, both conspirators in the endless dedication to keep me unhealthy, that I get sick so I might die young, but not till my work on this planet is completed and I move to Mars.

I have great hopes that Mars will be habitable by the time I am too old. It takes 150 days and 55,757,930km to reach, which means I am out even before I start the journey. I can only hope they find me a burial spot there, and since we Africans are not capable of creating an Awudome on that planet, I will have to contend with Arlington cemetery without US Citizenship.

So international rating agency Moody’s has been creating havoc for this government for quite some time. This past week, we have been downgraded from B2 to B3 and classified negative. To the non-financial person on the street, what this means is it will cost us more in interest rates and with tighter conditions if we attempt once again, which we are determined to do in May this year, to borrow another $1billion.

We have bonds falling due. The first is in October this year for $531million and the next two, in 2023 and 2024 for $1billion each. Finance Minister has put forward a refinancing plan to Parliament for approval and a cursory look at the document confirms much of what we say every time.

The letter to Parliament as well as most of the cash-seeking document mentions $531million as the specific amount to pay, but in order to get some cash before we float the bond, we will be borrowing from an international bank.

Yet in the detail of the use of $1.5billion per request, the letter to Parliament loses one million from the calculation. Problem is Parliamentarians might miss this, so I am offering them a free heads up to question the Minister, where he intends finding an extra million to ensure full payment.

And it is this kind of shoddy work and inattention to the fine detail, which is costing Ghanaians much money and derailing Government’s economic strategy; to keep borrowing until we either leave office or die.

So as I read Moody’s report on the state of our economy, I wondered whether they agreed with JDM when he presented the address to Parliament last time.

I didn’t read anything new in what Moody’s said, in fact I read a lot about what I and several others in this country have been saying for a long time now. This country is broke because the NDC government has spent all our money. They spent a lot of it in 2012 and went on to spend more and continue to raid the bottom of the account whenever they have the chance. Even Bank of Ghana is feeling the pinch.

Mahama cannot fix this problem, same as he cannot fix the “dumsor” in 2015. As for the “dumsor”, they will not dare to let it run into 2016. Even if they do, I doubt Ghanaians will see anything realistic in economic activity with the way things are running at this time.

And is this what we have to live with into another election year and another change of government? The only credible alternative to the NDC is an NPP government. Not because the PPP doesn’t have better ideas, but because they cannot garner enough votes to win an election. It is unfortunate, but Ghana will be a two party state for a long time to come.

The Military High Command have evolved a new way of answering incisions into how their lands are controlled. Enough that we don’t have a clue how much it costs this country to keep a military that does not fight anybody, except peace keeping activities on some other country’s own land.

But to come to the public with bogus explanations of Public Private Partnership arrangements when we don’t even have a PPP law signed, begs the questions more than anything.

Answers? Just provide full detail of all the parties involved in the transactions and give us enough for independent assessment of the deal. Even if we had a Freedom of Information Law, they would tell us it is a state secret.

A state secret governing our own money, which we contribute to their welfare.

June 4 1979 was a big relief in my life as we overthrew a military dictatorship and returned the country to civilian rule only to usher in another even more disturbing period with a directionless government concerned only with looting and maiming people on the streets of Accra under the guise of some sort of saviour-ship.

The PNDC era and its aftermath must one day be narrated in full. It was a scourge on the Military and I urge all who really want better insight into what happened in that time and who would like to understand the players in that government, to read Obed Asamoah’s historical recant.

Personally, I keep reminding myself that this year will be the one I publish a collection of all my Critical News pieces. Definitely. Time I did, and I hope it is popular enough to make me rich for life, the life some persons have tried a few times to take away.

But this government does not truly want things to get better. The spat between Martin Amidu and Gbevlo Lartey in the public space, tells anyone reading between the lines that there is a lot more to the Woyome case and the termination of Amidu from the Mills Government than we know.

Any Government strong enough and tough enough on corruption will use all means possible to bring the former AG and her deputy to the table of prosecution and ask that they explain themselves.

How can the Supreme Court decide that Agbesi Woyome was not legitimately entitled to the ghc51.2 million (by the way that figure should really be ghc57million) and he must make a refund, yet a High Court pronounces him not guilty and he walks. Is there something wrong with our judicial system or is it pregnant with officials who see no problem with collecting a buck or two for themselves every so often?

I have a major problem with this decision and I support the AG in her appeal, even though she could have done a better job at the trial. Lawyer Baffuor with who I shared a panel on Citifm’s The Big Issue on Saturday, questioned why the judge did not, in the matter of State interest, subpoena the former Justice Minister and her deputy, as well as all the others mentioned in the investigation by EOCO but wrote it in his judgment after the fact. I agree with him.

We have a whistle Blowers Act in this country and I am yet to see any civil or public servant go under this act to reveal happenings in their ministries. Is money not being stolen from Government coffers all the time? Are they all saying, like Larry Lartey that they don’t know what happens between the sheets of their ministries and agencies?

We should bow our heads in shame as we leave the convoluted corridors of corruption to only a handful to question.

And when Moody’s says it for us, we clap our hands in glee and rub our fat bellies fondly. Moody’s is doing our work for us because we don’t have the guts to do as we know fit.

We should have a national “I am ashamed day”. A rating agency has our back while we lie about our economic situation. As if nobody can see through our cooked figures.

I promise JDM I will meet with him in dead goat zone. I have arrived at the same level he is, “dead goat syndrome”. Together we will sit side by side, he not caring what people say and think anymore, me no longer afraid of what might happen to me if I continue to fight this corruption canker. Either way we are both dead goats.

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

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One Response to “In A Bad Mood-y. Critical News, 22nd March 2015”

  1. Yaw Oppng said

    Ahh, Vintage Sydney, by the time I finished reading this amazing piece I was too moody to shed tears. May The Creator continue to invest you with untrammelled wisdom and vitality to to enable you continue with your crusade against corruption…

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