28.05.2004 Feature Article

Letter From The President: Chasing a Mirage?

Letter From The President: Chasing a Mirage?
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Countrymen and women, bootlickers and praise-singers It's interesting how our country has been abuzz over the past weeks with the controversy over that small loan from the Chinese company which operates from a small barbershop in London. It seems to me that our journalists have lost focus. They all seem to be running in one direction, chasing the same sources and writing stories which are so similar that variety no longer seems to be the spice of life. Honestly, I am sad that I am writing about this loan matter. If you remember, I mentioned it briefly in the 'Money Palaver' letter I wrote some two weeks ago and I thought it would have ended there. Sadly, our journalists who have suddenly become experts in international finance and the legalities of incorporating a company are now hounding each other over who has conducted the best investigations into whether or not CNT is a real company. Right now, our country has been divided over this issue and I am getting a little angry over all this nonsense. I blame all this on the NDC MPs on the finance committee who failed to raise any objection to the loan, like they did in the case of the IFC fiasco, only to turn around after approving it to sing this cacophonous tune about the loan being “too good to be true”. I think that after gleefully supporting the motion for the adoption of the loan agreement the NDC MPs might have been called into a meeting at which they were told that they may have shot themselves in the foot by approving the loan. Someone, probably, Brother Jos, might have pointed out to them that if my government lays its hands on the loan, it will use it for development projects which might win some more votes for us in the coming elections. So out of jealousy, they are crying foul. Let's look at the issues that have been raised by the critics of the loan. First of all they say that the loan is “too good to be true”. Of course, it is too good to be true. But this is no '419'. CNT is not asking us to give them any money to enable them lay their hands on a larger sum which they will share with us. All they are asking is for us to come for the loan of 300 million dollars. What shall we lose if we go for it? I don't see us losing sovereignty or national dignity by going for a loan from 'salon' company. The critics claim that it could be laundered or drugs money? Hmmm! That's almost a good point. But I wonder whether we should bother ourselves over the source of the money. We are a HIPC country – we are always begging for money to pay our teachers and doctors. We beg for money to spray our cocoa farms. We won't have an economy if we don't beg for money to fund our national budget. When a 'suspicious' company comes along and offers to give us a loan with very little interest and very few strings attached what should we do? We take the money, of course. Do the beggars on the Ring Road ask where the almsgivers get their money from? The NDC people are also saying that we should conduct due diligence before collecting the loan. We should use our HIPC money to conduct due diligence for what? To ascertain whether the company has the money? Or to find out whether the managers of CNT are cocaine dealers anxious to launder their money in Sikaman? In any case, when did the NDC folks learn about due diligence? Did they teach Katatsi about the merits of due diligence when he was at the GNPC? All we need is the money – if after rehabilitating our railway system and purchasing buses for mass transit (which is why we are chasing the loans) it turns out that CNT gave us drugs money for the project, I don't think we will have to defend ourselves in the International Court of Justice for using proper legal channels to receive a loan from a group of people who later turned out to be drug barons (God forbid). The critics of the CNT loan also advise that we should check and be sure of the real address of the CNT so that in case of any eventuality, we can easily contact them. You know my intelligence level can sometimes fall below human levels so I need some education here. After contracting the loan, what eventuality could there possibly be? We either pay back or declare HIPC again or, as a last resort, proclaim, like Acheampong did, that 'yentua'. We don't even need their address to do any of these. All the repayments will be made to the bank and if we decide not to pay back, we can rest easy here in Sikaman and expect the CNT people to come after us to demand their money. Even if we needed their address for the repayments to be made, I think it would be a blessing for all of us if the people who are giving us the loan decide to change their address every fortnight without notifying us. Who loses? So please, the controversy over the loan should stop immediately. The debates were quite amusing at some point. Now, not only are they boring – almost all the arguments are turning out to be pointless. I want the media to stop making an issue out of this loan 'palaver' and get more serious. There are issues of greater national significance to be discussed. The fire in Dagbon has not been put out completely and I am trying to bury the Ya Na – for political expediency, of course. Instead of wasting our ears over whether the loan is too good to be true or not, the media will do me a lot of good by discussing the wisdom or folly in my government's plan to bury the Ya Na as early as next month. The media can also do our nation a lot of good if it mounts pressure on the officials of the Water Company who take their salaries at the end of every month but have failed to deal decisively with the perennial water shortage in Cape Coast. Currently, most of the secondary schools in the Cape Coast municipality are on an extended vacation because there is no water in the municipality – yet the Water Company cannot account for about 40 percent of the water it purifies and pumps into its distribution lines. You must all forget about the loan. Whether or not it is from a genuine source, we will try and take it. If we don't get it, we won't lose anything. If we get it, there is so much to be gained and, still, nothing to lose. If it turns out to be a scam we will lash all our MPs, including the NDC members who are now crying foul. Quite peeved,

J. A. Fukuor [email protected]

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