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20.08.2004 Feature Article

Disturbing Issues

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No-one says it is an infinitesimal task to manage a developing country. Given that the government has to decide on how to distribute the scanty national revenue to finance developments. I think it is intricate deciding on where to allocate more resources with all issues being critical. There are the issues of roads and infrastructures, health, education, subside for petroleum, salary increment demands and job creation.

However, sound policies, and first-rate management are paramount. This is where the Ghana government and for that matter Africa governments lack the prescience. Not because there are not people in government with the skills and requisite knowledge to do the job, rather the skills are misplaced, which are due principally to corruption, selfishness, and outright disregard of welfare of the citizenry.

Consider the management issue of Ghana airways. How many times has the government formed a committee to ascertain the quandary of the airline? Currently, there is a delegation headed by Dr. Anane, minister for transportation. How long has he held the post? Wasn't the problem there when he took office? How long has the government known about the debt and mismanagement issues of the airline? How many times has Ghana airways been apprehended in Europe? It took the recent grounding in US to alert the minister and the government again, this mediocre management is incompetence. All these committees concluded their deliberations and somehow management boards were dissolved and replaced with the same caliber of people and the cycle continued. As Albert Einstein noted, one cannot solve a problem with the same thinking that created the problem. These numerous committees suffice it to say, are charades the government puts on to justify to the people something is being done.

The debt was there when the parliamentarians awarded themselves loans, which they all knew could not pay back, for cars. I have flown with Ghana airways twice on round-trips, it was appalling and preposterous the things that occurred. I think most people have read numerous accounts about the despicable nature of services. What this airline needs is micro-management. Management with unambiguous honest goals and vision for the airline, knowledge about what is going on with pilots, flight crew, maintenance crew, and every single transaction from when the plane ascends and descends. Management should be hands-on. Moreover, the airline needs management, which appreciates and motivates the employees to maximize productivity and profit; attitude is everything.

Attitude will determine the altitude that the airline will go. Granted, every business entity exists to make profit; not the other way round as in the case of Ghana airways. Profit should be pivotal, but it should be made base on sound policies, passion for work and discipline. Management cannot be offering free tickets to their family members, girlfriends, and preferential treatments to certain customers and not anticipate subordinates to do the same.

Unparalleled policies are the spine of every nation. Studies have shown that wealth does not necessarily equate to happiness. A country with a high GDP as in the case of advanced economies does not mean the citizens are happy. It is the policies, rule of law, diminish corruption, health and sense of security that create happiness. Recently, it was reported that a group of importers tried to evade taxes on cars they have imported into the country by stating that the goods in the container were secondhand clothes. These people should face the law and the necessary punishment under law must be applied. Granted there are tax evaders everywhere in the world, but the tax code on import duties on cars to Ghana is outlandish. The tax code is not favorable to the importer at all. According to the tax code, for instance, if a car is five years or older, the value is estimated at 50% of the original value, then the necessary tax and duties are applied to that amount. Therefore, one can buy a used car for $2000 and end up spending over $4000 just to take the car out of the harbor. Why can't the value of the car be the current purchase price? In this example $2000? Given that the value of a new car depreciates with time. How did the policy-makers decide to value a 5year old car at 50% of its original value?

This is a horrific tax code and something should be done about it. But then again, the government does not mind, why? Officials are riding around in landcruisers paid for with income from these dire tax codes; and this is not exclusive to NPP or NDC governments, both administrations are culpable.

Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.

Collins Karikari
Collins Karikari, © 2004

The author has 10 publications published on Modern Ghana. Column Page: CollinsKarikari

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