11.09.2002 Feature Article

Logical Illogicalities II

Logical Illogicalities II
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Having discussed some of the root causes of the myriad problems Ghana as a developing nation faces, one must seek to provide suggestions regarding the solutions that have so far been implemented and asses some others that might help draw us out of the quagmire of backwardness and relative deprivation which unfortunately has become the lot of many a developing state.

The peculiarity of Ghana's debacle is made more manifest by the inability of the state as a whole acting in concert with other 'friendly forces' to break the jinx of inertia that has petrified us to our own loss. By this I am referring specifically to what Paa Kwesi Imbeah has referred to as the stranglehold that Chieftaincy as an institution continues to wield over Ghana. It is no secret that one of the primary requirements of any developmental effort is the availability of land as a factor of production and in the case of developing nations, cheap productive land at that. Most readers would agree that the vesting of land in the institution of Chieftaincy while having its merits has on the other hand been largely abused for selfish and narrow parochial interests. It is the case that in Ghana, the sale of lands by regents and families alike has been detrimental to our developmental efforts simple because of the tendency to sell land to more than one pers! on. Suffice it to say that as our media carries stories of such fraudulent deeds, no investor worth a good name would have to conduct any further search as to the conduciveness of our environment for any sort of production. This tendency does not exist in isolation because it is also the case that officials of the lands commission and other allied bodies condone and connive in some of these despicable acts without weighing the repercussions on the state. The solution? Would it not be beneficial for government to pass laws that alter the present relations between chiefs and lands so as to kill two birds with one stone? On the one hand, we would have removed a very irritating obstacle while on the other, the gateway to employment for the people owing allegiance to such stools would have been flung open wide enough to make life a bit more interesting within such domains. Of course the chiefs are bound to resist this but careful planning and education coupled with in-built mech! anisms to ensure fairness would most likely serve to dispel any fears and apprehensions and thereby get us off to a good start.

Another worthy consideration would be the provision of adequate power for industry to work round the clock at full capacity. With all due respect the experiences of VALCO and the tendency to induce it to shut down some of its lines in crisis times does us more long term harm although in the short term, that remains the best option. We continue also to buy power from neighbouring Cote d'Ivoire when we have all the essentials of producing power for ourselves. What happened to the proposals for the Bui Dam that Dr. Hilla Liman was trying to build before the shenanigans threw him out of office? With Ghana joining the chorus of sustainable development so as to leapfrog the negative experiences of the west where the environment is concerned, what are we doing about harnessing solar energy? What about the huge deposits of natural gas that lies offshore in our exclusive economic zones? Is it not time to tap those resources and thereby solve one of our most difficult problem! s? If as H.E the President said "the private sector has come to power in Ghana" then the wielders of private sector power must be seen to be actively encouraging investment in these basics without which any plan would remain what it is: a plan. The implementation is what matters because sorry to say, Ghanaians are adept at talking about so many plans, some of which have over-gathered dust on the shelves of sector ministries and yet we continue to wallow in and harp on the abject poverty we can easily get out of. We must immediately commence the implementation of the recommendations contained in these documents, paid for ironically out of the taxpayer's sweat but which for reasons best known to the authorities have been relegated to the background. When we talk about waste, this for me is one of the most glaring examples.

Nevertheless there are equally important and perhaps far more significant actions that must be collectively taken to provide the very environment within which the above-mentioned ideas could be implemented and that is the age-old question of political stability. Ghana has been mentioned as having carved a new image as one of the leading 'emerging democracies' in the sub region and indeed in the continent as a whole. What has made this possible, contrary to the beliefs of the new political left is not the ability to crush any dissent or to thwart the efforts of potential coup makers. It is the natural tendency of Ghanaians to be patient and to 'give it to God'. To the best of my knowledge, that tendency is fast dying out, largely because the ordinary man sees profligacy within the body politic in an allegedly poor country. To reconcile these proves impossible simply because the facts and the realities don't add up. How is it that a country, kn! own for its abundance of resources still wallows in poverty? Where are the proceeds from the sale of our state owned enterprises? What happens to the export proceeds of our minerals? The people are indeed resolved to get answers and that is partly why the present government was voted into office, given that the apostles of accountability failed to live by their own catch phrases. In the light of the fact that the media is enjoying unbelievable freedom, the tempo of questioning would further increase. One must give credit to Hon. Yaw Osafo-Maafo for his candid opinions on the true state of our economy and moving swiftly to announce the disbursements of the proceeds of our HIPC program. This way, what they might not have realized is the fact that apart from scoring political points, the ruling NPP has defused a ticking bomb because the ordinary man truly sees accountability in its practical terms. If this novelty should continue, I dare say the NPP will rule Ghana for many ye! ars to come.

Still on the stability tip, the recent announcement of increases in the monthly allowances of Ghanaian Peacekeeping troops and the implementation of the plan to renovate all military barracks is another feather in the cap of the government because in implementing these decisions some of the genuine reasons any coup maker might use to hoodwink others have been effectively removed. Now the armed forces can concentrate on their traditional role of "protecting the territorial boundaries of Ghana by air, land and sea even to the peril of their lives" while the police service with its ever improving resource base is poised to reorganize itself into a real police force. Workers have been also given a respite with wage increases, restoration of ESBs and insulation from the high cost of utility tariffs. With all these in place, what is left for Ghana to really take off?

Fellow readers that is where those of us in the Diaspora come in. We do send in remittances to the tune of $400 million annually but that is simply not enough simply because most of this money is to support our extended families and to re-roof the 'family house' and the like. What we need now are serious joint ventures, business partnerships, new companies, factories, services and the like that would be competitive enough on the world stage. There are those that scream about the so-called unjust world economic order but is this same unjust world economic order not that in which Botswana, Malaysia and Singapore are making it? We must start to invest our money in our country. It is as simple as that. If the private sector has indeed come to power in Ghana, the proof of their resolve to promote development would be in how well they facilitate and transform our investment plans into practical realities. Some have started and gotten off well. The likes of the Ghana! Cyber Group, the ASSIG and Free Africa Foundation have been working tirelessly around the clock to prove that concerted efforts do work. There is no denying the fact that when foreign businesses see Ghanaians in the Diaspora investing in their own country with a tenacity of purpose, they would rally to the right signals because the vote of confidence in such a situation couldn't be clearer. It would mean that Ghanaians believe the bureaucratic tendencies associated with doing business in their country have been over and done with. It would mean that the bribery that must go on before papers are processed is a thing of the past. It would mean that we no longer fear the seizure of our property upon the change of government; neither do we live under the fear of armed robbers and petty thieves. Are we prepared to start doing something and thereby further enhance what has been commenced by the brave few? Would we rise above our immediate political differences for a change! and bequeath to Ghana her due? Would we start transferring some of ou r huge funds stashed in western banks, which keep their economies buoyant at the expense of ours and yet complain that government is not doing enough to promote development? These are the great question to ponder over. For results oriented people however, the time to start acting was yesterday and if that was missed, would we miss tomorrow also?

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