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11.09.2003 Feature Article

Open letter To Obetsebi-Lamptey: Where Are We Going?

Open letter To Obetsebi-Lamptey: Where Are We Going?
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Dear Mr. Obetsebi-Lamptey: Please pass this message along to Mr. Yaw Osafo-Maafo, MP of Akim Oda and Minister of Finance & Economic Planning of Ghana (whose email address unfortunantely I am unable to locate to write to directly)--and also to the rest of your "govermental" collegaues. My name is Kwame Tuffour. I am a native Ghanaian who has lived in the United States since having moved here in 1983 as an nine-year old child. I am a proud Ghanaian and an avid supporter of the newly crowned democratic government of Ghana, as headed by the NPP party. Nevertheless, I am ofen quite bewildered by some of the actions that I read concerning the actions of some members of this new form of "righteous" administration back home in our motherland. I recently read in the news the following story: The Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Mr. Osafo-Maafo, has justified the ¢140 Million ($US 16,000) given to Peter Ala Adjetey, Speaker of Parliament, to travel abroad as "reasonable." According to him, the request Mr. Ala Adjetey made was relevant hence the money was released to him, pointing out that although the Speaker was on holidays, he would attend hospital to treat himself based on his previous sickness. "Certain privileges are attached to some positions in government. People should be careful about the kind of utterances they make about public officials in government", he admonished What "certain privileges?" Mr. Lamptey, can you, the president or Mr. Osafo-Maafo please explain to me Mr. Maafo´s comments and justifications for his actions? Is a democratic goverment (namely ours in Ghana) created to serve the people or are the people merely pawns whose tax-paying money are used to support the frivolous and often unscrupulous activities of members of the state? Paying for the alleged medical care expenses and/or "holiday" expenses of any member of the goverment (including the president) should not be the responsibility of the people whom the government was created to serve. These sort of shady "privileges" should never be justified--at least not in any civilized, ethical and moral society, which the NPP government claims to be upholding. America´s goverment is admittedly not perfect but this sort of similar action would not be tolerated in the halls of the United States Congress or by the American people. If any medical expenditure is needed by a public official, this cost should already have been instituted and covered by money set aside for such a purpose--via a governmental employee health insurance scheme--and not to be taken liberally from the coffers of the "people's" money. These kind of activities and subsequent condonation by leaders of our country really paint a picture of mistrust in the eye of the general populace towards the government. The rest of the "democratic" world is indeed watching, and this is indeed a major blackeye in our efforts towards progress and positive change. Again, I beg to ask the question, Is the goverment created to serve the people or are the people used simply as means to fill the pockets and interests of members of the government as they choose? It is my humble opinion that if persons who wish to run for or elected to positions in the government are not already in stable financial positions (in their own rights) then these people should not be appointed to these positions of power if they are not willing to understand and be ready to accept the sacrifice that is involved public service. It is unfortunate that Mr. Adjetey is supposedly in a bad state of health, but that should not be the financial burden of the Ghanaian citizen. Ghana's economy is obviously in a severe state of hardship, and our nation will forever be stagnant in its current and worsening state unless our elected officials and presumed caretakers of our people can undertake the fiscal discipline and sacrifice towards some constructive course of actions. One of the many steps in this direction would be the discontinuation of wasted money on members of the goverment (namely Parliament)on their unnecessarily personal activities, such as the purchasing of individuals' automobiles/homes and funds used for private vacation ventures. People should not have the expectations of being elected or appointed as public officials so that they can use public money to pay for their personal expenses. If my assessment, and the above comments and questions have misconstrued the government's activities then I stand to be corrected. Your sincere and prompt response would be much appreciated. Thank you. Regards, Kwame Tuffour

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