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24.04.2008 Political

Election 2008 - Who cared less for you? NPP or NDC

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The matter of the December 2008 general elections is more straightforward than we probably think. The contest will revolve around three pillars: (1) the respective performance track records of the contesting parties (2) the integrity and sincerity of their respective manifesto pledges and (3) the leadership credentials of the presidential candidates.

You may mistakenly see the above criteria as being unfair to Edward Mahama's PNC, for instance, because the PNC has not tasted power.

But, a closer look reveals that in fact there are only three main political blocs in this year's contest: the Danquah-Busia group (NPP), the Rawlings group (NDC) and the Nkrumaists (CPP, PNC…).

The Nkrumaists can be said to have more than 17 years of experience in government - 11 of those after Independence. From Nkrumah's CPP, which took charge of government affairs in 1951, became the first ruling party of independent Ghana in 1957 until its overthrow in 1966 and Hilla Limann's PNP, which ruled from 1979 to 1981.

Then you have the 20 years of the Rawlings group (1981-1993, PNDC; 1993-2001, NDC). The Danquah Busia group has had the least go at fixing this country. They can claim a total of 10 years in office – Busia's PP (1969-1972) and NPP (2001-).

In short this year's voters have the benefit of examining all the records of the various parties. This is relevant for two reasons: (1) it affords the electorate a better insight of the character of a political party; (2) it helps in measuring the kind of weight one puts on the integrity and sincerity of the promises that will be coming our way this year.

If, for instance, a political group decided to get rid of about 60 state-owned enterprises, several of them factories, when it was in power and it is now promising from the comforting oblivion of opposition to build factories if elected back into office, the voters have every right to demand to know the sincerity of this volte face.

It may be easy for a first time independent candidate to adopt the slogan "I care for you". But when it is coming from a candidate and a party with an impressive length of a track record, then voters may easily advise that candidate to revise the slogan to "I care for your vote." Caring for your vote is markedly different from caring for you.

Nana Akufo-Addo cleverly reminded Ghanaians last Thursday of the folly in NDC claims that Ghanaians are suffering today than ever before. He stated at his news conference, "In 1993, Ghana's daily minimum wage was equivalent to 96 US cents. By 2000, the last year of the NDC regime, the real value of the minimum wage of the Ghanaian had reduced to 60 US cents. Today, the minimum daily wage, at 2.24 Ghana cedis is equivalent to US$2.34."

A closer look at the figures indicate that indeed, under the PNDC/NDC, the real value of wages and salaries of the average Ghanaian kept on decreasing. For example, by 1997, the daily minimum wage had fallen in value to 88 cents. It kept on dropping: 86 cents in 1998, 82 cents in 1999 until election year 2000 when the NDC in December decided to increase it from ¢2,900 to ¢4,200. Except of course, they left it to the incoming government to actually implement it, but only valued at 60 cents!

The PNDC, way back on April 8, 1986 had reaffirmed its policy on wages and salaries, cautioning that "wages and salaries are rewards for work. And that without the productivity needed to sustain the new levels of pay, the money we will put in our pockets will begin to chase a decreasing stock of goods and prices and would once begin to climb up steeply." And for the next 14 years, such was the story and the battering that the money in the pocket of the Ghanaian received.

The NPP have stabilised the economy with minimal inflation, lowered interest rates while nearly quadrupling the size of the Ghanaian economy from a GDP of US$3.9 billion to about US$15 billion today. Average lending rates have fallen from 47% in 2000 (the last year of the (P)NDC) to 24.2% in 2007. This has influenced credit to the private sector upwards from less than US$400 million in 2000 to nearly US$4 billion in 2007 – a one thousand percent increase. Ghana's exports have risen from US$1.9 billion in 2000 to US$4.2 billion in 2007. In the last seven years of the National Democratic Congress, US$320 million was invested in manufacturing. In the first 6 years of NPP rule, US$2.3 billion has gone into manufacturing.

Akufo-Addo was too generous to the NDC and too modest about the NPP when he said, "It is obvious, that one of the cardinal themes of this campaign will be to compare the records of the 20-year PNDC/NDC government and the 8-year NPP government. The inescapable conclusion from this comparison is that the 8-year NPP era has proved at least twice as productive for the development of Ghana as the 20-years of PNDC/NDC rule." Qanawu will argue that the NPP era has proved to be four times as productive for the development of Ghana as the NDC. The size of Ghana's economy was $3.9 billion by the end of 2000. After the first quarter of this year, the economy today stands at $15 billion. This is a quadrupling of the size of the economy under the NDC.

Indeed, between 1993 and 2000, the Ghanaian economy see-sawed between $3.2 billion and $3.9 billion. It could not grow anywhere close to $1 billion for a whole eight years. Yet it has grown by an extra $11 billion under the next 8 years under a different government, the NPP.

The Rawlings group is also quick to cite how high prices of petroleum products have been since the NPP took office. Let us first recall some basic statistics. Between 1983 and 1993, the average nominal annual crude oil price per barrel on the international market was $21.72.

The average was even better during the first 8 years of the Fourth Republic: $18.5. In fact, between Feb 13, 1998 and March 19, 1999, crude oil prices hovered between $12.91 and $12.28, falling as low as $9.16 on Dec 11, 1998 and $9.31 on Feb 12, 1999. On Jan 05, 2001, crude sold on the world market at $22.1.

Even at that time, notably in the latter part of 2000, President Rawlings was threatening to charge "realistic prices" for petrol products, only stopped by electoral considerations even at the risk of collapsing both the Tema Oil Refinery and the Ghana Commercial Bank. Compare it to what has been happening now: last Friday, New York's main oil contract, light sweet crude for delivery in April, shed 12 cents to close at $110.21 per barrel a day after hitting a fresh intraday record of $111. Since crude oil hit the then magic figure of $30 per barrel on Jan 24, 2003, it has not looked back.

Nobody can deny that fuel prices have been very high under the NPP. In fact, between 2001 and today, petrol has shot up by 632.4%, gas oil by 684.9%, and kerosene 611.7%. But let us for a moment compare it to what happened under the Rawlings group: Between 1983 and 2000, the price of kerosene went up by a whopping 26,400%; gas oil by 15,488% and premium petrol 11,444%.

If you look at the figures from another angle, you notice that under the Rawlings group, the price of petrol went up by 602.47% every year. Under the NPP, it has gone up by relatively a mere 86.06%. The Rawlings group increased gas oil and kerosene prices by an annual average of 815% and 1,389%, respectively.

The National Petroleum Authority under the NPP has increased gas oil and kerosene process by an average of 85.6% and 38.23% yearly.

by - the Same Author

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