05.01.2003 Feature Article

Time For Real Thinking

Time For Real Thinking
05.01.2003 LISTEN

Free at last, Free at last, Free at last. Forty-six years after these famous words were said, the whiteman is back again. He approves of our national budget which basically depends on the amount of handouts he is willing to give us in any given year. The whiteman under the guise of the World Bank and IMF tells us how to live our lives. They come up with programs on how to reduce poverty, when to increase tariffs on electricity and water, give us ultimatum to increase taxes of petroleum products and insist on how we spend our money. A look at all these makes mockery of our much heralded independence. Technically we have lost our sense of pride and dignity. To be able to turn things around there is the need for critical thinking and evaluations. It is time to put the "booklong" theories aside and do some practical things. Lack of effective leadership has been our number one problem as a nation. Like I have said before, our leaders always want the easy way out. They tend to put into place ad-hoc measures which will only give them short term political gains. There is the need to plan ahead thirty to forty years. In other words there is the urgent need to lay solid foundations upon which the future could be built. Education, formal and informal should be our number one priority. Realistic goals of literacy rate should be set and all efforts made to achieve them. Any country with a higher literacy rate stand the chance of reducing poverty to the bearest minimum. The much talked about poverty reduction will come to naught if we do not improve upon our literacy rate. Emphasis should also be put on technical and vocational education. After conducting my own little research as to why we lack a lot of locally based industries, I came to the conclusion that most of the rich in our society are either illiterates or semiliterate. They happen to feel comfortable doing their one man business of buying and selling. It will not take you ten minutes to come across ten so called business men/women who are worth more than two hundred thousand dollars. In sum these ten people are worth two million dollars. With the right governmental policy direction these people can set up a two million dollar factory that will be able to employ at least three hundred people. With their level of education they do not see the need to pull resources together. That is why I am advocating that we go back to the basics which is formal and informal education. The above brings to mind, priority setting and effective leadership. Instead of President going round the world looking for investors, he should start from within. Another real example could be found in tomato growers. By bringing them together to form cooperatives and with a little encouragement, they can pull resources together and set up their own canning factory. This will enhance income generation and reduce loses through bumper harvests. There should be a massive educational drive to convince people that there is more to be gained in coporate investments. The culture of investing should be instilled into the people. In other for people to have the confidence to go into partnerships, government has to take a critical look at coporate corruption. If coporate corruption exists at a higher rate it will be hard to persuade them to pull resources together. There is also the need to train more lawyers specializing in coporate finance. The process whereby government keep borrowing from local banks must come to a stop. Banks are supposed to assist private companies. If government keep competing with these companies for the little money that the banks can lend, then it is indirectly killing the economy it is supposed to help grow. Government should find a better way to generate own money. Effective revenue generation is a sign of good governance. Second look should be taken at the way we diversify state owned corporations. The outright sale of state owned companies to foreigners must be stopped. We need to attach a condition whereby a Ghanaian entrepreneur will have a certain percentage in any diversified company. Current employees should be given the chance to buy certain percentage shares. Once workers know that, they are part owners of the company, attitude towards work will change leading to higher productivity. Innovation and creativity is what we have been lacking all these years. Efforts should be made to bring out all hidden talents in society. China is not the most favourable trade nation to the Unites States for nothing. Years a go the Chinese were noted for cheap toys and imitations. Now China is one of the leading (if not the leading) exporter to the US. Merchandise range from toys to hair products and fitness accessories. What prevents us from bringing international awareness to stuff that are only exclusive to us. Why can't our engineers come out with improved kente weaving equipments? Why can't we divert to kentelike fabrics that can be washed and worn on regular basis? We claim to have all the gold but can't boast of a world class jewelry manufacturer. The least talked about cocoa the better. What is the council for industrial research doing? What are their achievements? Are we paying them for no work done? Let us bear in mind that on! e successful innovation can transform a whole country. Tax education should also be a priority. People need to be impressed upon that tax payment is a civil responsibility. Tax payment culture should be instilled into them. Revenue collection agencies must come up with effective ways of achieving their aims and objectives. Toll payment on all major highways should be introduced. If drivers want to ply on good roads, they should be prepared to pay for it. This will help Highway Authority to build more roads and improve upon the existing ones. Our whole land tenure system needs to be reviewed. Land is a major factor of production and as such all matters relating to it must be taken seriously. I personally think all lands should be vested in the state with a small percentage going to the communities. Under no circumstance should chiefs have ultimate control of our lands. This might also ease the rate of chieftaincy disputes, which has resulted in the country being branded as a conflict nation. Negative cultural practices like polygamy should be stopped or banned outright. The old saying that culture overrules law is obsolete. We should start prosecuting irresponsible fathers. Prosecuting them will make them look before they leap. Street children is the direct effect of irresponsibility on the part of parents. Winner takes all politics need to come to an end. We are all in the same boat together and will take collective effort to steer the boat to the shore. We must learn to forgive and forget. Lamentations over past injustices will not do us any good. We should look ahead towards the future which is more brighter and filled with hope. Frankly, the problems facing us are enormous. Part of the solutions are within. No amount of foreign prescriptions and investments will lead us to prosperity if we do not put our house together first. Brothers and Sisters, we are lucky to be living on a land with multiple treasures. It is time to seek greater enlightenment, which will evidently help us to grab the good things at the end of the rainbow. It must also be said that, to get to the gold at the end of the rainbow we must concentrate on the rainbow first. This means doing the right things at the right time. It cannot be denied that a lot of odds are against us, but with perseverance and right spiritual guidance we shall succeed.

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