How come we do not know that we are gainfully employed?
5/3/2012 1:32:58 PM -
Ebo Quansah in Accra
It sounds bizarre. But, in this country, as the economy grows, the people become poorer. We have an economy said to be one of the fastest growing in the world. In fact, at a point in time, state authority and its pliant media were so loud in their pronouncements that this nation, which still depends on the exportation of raw cocoa beans to balance the books, was said to have overtaken almighty China as the fastest growing economy in the world.
In a society which prefers to borrow from China and pay twice the amount on the principal and interest, using the recently discovered oil wells as collateral instead of saving the returns from the oil for development projects envisaged, the roof-top advertisement of the magic created under the Umbrella is nauseating at times.
Inflation has remained in single digit for nearly three years, unprecedented in the nation's history, we are told. The foreign reserve is ballooning. At the moment, this nation could call on $4.5 billion in foreign reserves. We are bombarded daily with information on the John Evans Atta Mills regime having removed thousands of schools which were previously held under trees. Now, the entire nation has first class user facilities for all kids in the basic and junior high school levels.
Road construction has seen the most rapid expansion since Nana Kwamena Ansah welcomed Don Diego d'Azambuja to Elmina, and began the process that eventually led to the Bond of 1844 and eventual colonisation of this society. In terms of achievement, this government claims that no administration, civil or military, has come anywhere near the gains of the John Evans Atta Mills Government in the three and a quarter years it has supervised over the affairs of this nation.
The irony of all these achievements is that they are seen only by members of the government and supporting agents in the so-called Communication Team of Government.
If you subject the claims to analysis, you are considered a saboteur, because invariably, you end up dealing with a mirage. On Tuesday, Brother Kofi Asamoah, Secretary-General of the Trades Union Congress, addressed the May Day parade at Sunyani, and wondered why the economy is doing so well and yet failed to create jobs.
Read the lips of the TUC chief scribe: 'The reality is that the unprecedented growth rate has failed to create decent jobs for Ghanaians. Joblessness is on the rise. Nearly all new jobs are being created in the informal economy, where incomes are low and workers have very little protection from the country's labour laws.'
The TUC scribe was of the view that the economic growth had not translated into jobs, because the growth was a result of the discovery of oil. In other words, there has not been much growth in industry, which has the real potential to create jobs.
Some of us have our own reservations about the so-called economic miracle. I do not believe, for instance, that inflation in Ghana is single digit. I am not an economist. But, I do not believe that inflation could remain in single digit when the cost of goods and services are rising in double, treble and quadruple figures.
I have a very serious problem with the competence level of the Ghana Statistical Service, for instance, to do a professional job devoid of politics. For nearly two years, the service, one of state institutions that requires the services of top class professionals, has been reduced to a wing of the ruling party. If you do not seek protection under the umbrella, your job at the Statistical Service is on the line.
I am told that ever since Prof. Francis Dodoo arrived as Board Chairman, the Statistical Service has never been the same. There have been more political maneuverings than professional delivery of statistics, insiders are complaining.
The other day, when Dr. Grace Bediako was sent packing, the official reason given was that the Government Statistician was not up to the task. Insiders though, insist that the woman was sent packing because she would not agree with the tampering of census figures.
Nearly two years after the Population and Census exercise was concluded, the Ghana Statistical Service has not been able to release concrete figures yet. The 24 million declared was said to be provisional. How long are we going to remain provisional in our numbers?
When the Service announced that conclusive population figures were to be released at the end of April, I knew it was a huge joke. When the figures have not been tabulated, how could final figures be compiled?
The Ghana Statistical Service is turning out to be one huge joke of a state institution. I am surprised that no official is calling the service to order after all the mess with population figures. The Electoral Commission, for instance, is waiting on the district breakdown of the 2010 population figures to be able to carve out new constituencies. It looks like the Commission would wait forever.
In the interim, I still maintain that the single digit inflation being bandied about has no place in reality. When the national currency, the cedi, is falling faster than ripe mangoes in the Harmattan season, cost of goods and services would definitely rise with it
The fallen rate of the cedi means that the cost of all imported items have risen beyond the single inflation digit. In a country where every conceivable item is imported, it is disingenuous to suggest that the rising cost of goods and services does not affect inflation.
As you read this piece, the cost of every conceivable item, from cassava to engine parts, is hitting the roof. I dare state that the single digit inflation that has been choreographed to feed into the so-called Better Ghana Agenda, and that could be injurious to the health of the nation.
Last year, when Deputy Minister of Information Samuel Okudzeto-Ablakwa claimed that the government had created 1.6 million jobs, the government's own Minister of Employment and Social Welfare came public to deny that he was aware of any such job creation. Mr. Enoch Teye Mensah, who was then leading government's job creation drive, stated emphatically that he had no knowledge of the new jobs in the system.
Not too long ago, a group calling itself Government Communication Team, under the command of Stanislav Dogbe, formerly of Joy FM, compiled a list of government achievements in a Green Book, which claimed that the government had created over 1.5 million jobs. What is not known is whether or not the new figure is different from Okudzeto-Ablakwa's creation.
If the two are separate, it means that the government has created over three million jobs. The interesting thing about this development is that we do not even know that we are employed. If this number of jobs has really been created, how come that we do not even know that we are employed?
It is a fact that this nation has made some gains in the economy, especially, with the discovery of oil. But, what is being bandied about as if the leadership of Prof. John Evans Atta Mills and his leadership has worked wonders, cannot be right.
A nation that is being devastated by cholera because we cannot move rubbish a society with a large chunk of the youth population idle for lack of employment, and goods and services rising beyond recognition cannot sustain any quality of life..
There is a large army of Ghanaians out there who cannot feed their families on any type of meal a day. There is suffering out there. That is why officials have a duty to appreciate challenges in the system, and stop hiding behind the over-hyped state of the economy. The economy is still in the Intensive Care Unit. It needs quite a bit of oxygen to revive!