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15.08.2005 Feature Article

Legalize the Outlawed

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The search is on; undoing the done if feasible, is sometimes one great match to progress. I have had one difficulty with the institutions in our beloved motherland as obsolete laws that inhibit the ingenuity among our countrymen are in place and new inhibitive laws are being passed in the current parliament. There are those laws that will not have to be threaded cautiously in terms of morality and eventual cost to the nation, and there are those that will have to be hastened, if the least given over in referendum for the electorate to decide, to assist our desire to build Ghana. There is too much know it all by our literates or ruling class, who think it best to decide everything from the top and even impose their ideas in referendum. It is unfortunate that when it comes with these same governments to deal with external bodies like the IMF, they tend to let such bodies decide even the meal they have to eat in their countries. I am sure we have the potential to spree into an industrialized country if certain outlawed productive ventures are legalized. These involve industries that the country will have to only be circumspect to pass the appropriate laws and also enhance corporation between the indigenous artisans and the literate academia. The industries are the Galamsey Operations, Chainsaw Operations, Arms Production and the Black-market money Exchange.

These industries despite existing laws continue to flourish, and like one popular saying recently, “if you cannot beat them, join them.” The night is far spent, our legislature will have to act quickly to legalize these operations and provide the necessary platform for development and employment for our people. These laws will even have to consider people who have been imprisoned for such related supposed crimes. The laws outlawing these operations need reform because they will serve our people and spearhead our desire to create job for our people. There is the adage that once your child has been drowned, doesn't mean you will not drink water again. There are potential pitfalls but the child does not stop to learn how to walk once it falls. The people involved in these potential industries have been outlawed mainly because they are not normally of the academic circles that pass the laws of the land. Let's be wary also that some of the existing laws were passed by the colonialists who were out to serve their selfish interest, creating jobs for their boys whilst making our people unemployed and to ensure we are permanently dependant on them. I hope to enumerate some of the advantages and the appropriate steps to take.

A Galamsey operation is the digging for minerals by indigenous people with crude tools and without any prospecting. However, with practice and experience the people involved normally make profit. These minerals are sold to local goldsmith for the prospective gold buyers, either for jewellery or for safe keeping as done in the olden times by our forefathers. The dangers in the operations are the indiscriminate digging and use of potential poisonous chemicals, which destroy our environment. These however, can be overcome if the operations are legalized and then prospective galamsey operators given concessions. Further, mining schools could research into alternative chemicals and even how to dispose off poisons appropriately to avoid endangering themselves and the environment. Also simple prospecting equipment could be developed by these schools in collaboration with other engineering departments. Alternatively, if technologies already exist, they galamsey operators could be helped to access them. The end result will be reduction in migrations, employment for our populace in mining, processing and marketing of precious minerals. Ghanaians can easily buy jewellery and even save their money in gold and other precious minerals if desired. Also foreign exchange could be earned as others export jewellery to other countries. Till today our government has not seen it prudent to explore this viable means of creating wealth among our people.

A Chainsaw operation is the felling and processing of logs into lumber by indigenous people, mostly using the chainsaw machine. The operators have little knowledge about processing other than into lumber. Thus quite a sizable portion of the wood is sometimes made to go waste. However, their know-how through practice and experience cannot be underestimated. Otherwise all our roofing in the village since time immemorial might have been ripped off. Besides these are the wood used by local carpenters for the provision of furniture and other wood articles. If legalized, their operations could be monitored, and trained in both harvesting and drying besides using the weather. Also other uses other than for lumber production which the other portions of the wood serve could be taught them. Collaboration with academia in the field could help improve their output. This will invariably create employment and wealth for our populace as markets are sought for them. Till date our government has not acted wisely to help groom this great industry, but seeks to prosecute all who ply this industry.

The Arms production is one great challenge that has great prospects for the industrialization of our land. Ghanaians have used guns and continue to use guns mainly for game hunting. The pitfalls are only about arm robbery and indiscriminate use of arms. Even in the absence of the legal production units, AK 47's have been found among thieves. As a first step all individuals with the know-how could be grouped into a single company with shareholdings in the company. This will make supervision by the security services easier. Further, laws must ensure serializing products, and proper licensing on acquisition. In legalizing the arms production mechanical engineers and carpenters could be on the verge of another viable industry, as research is conducted and results used in producing the finest Made in Ghana arms. We will be saving ourselves the foreign exchange in importing from the west. It is unfortunate that there are people behind bars for just producing arms, not because they were involved in any arms related crime. The laws will have to

The other thriving industry is the Black-market money exchange. It has thrived over the years. And why not when our banks will not openly treat fairly Ghanaians in foreign exchange issues? Permit me to say the banks unassumingly are the propellants of these black-markets. The government will do wisely to legalize the operations and be flexible in taxing the operators; little drops of water make a mighty ocean. I stand for correction; our present taxing packages appear more punitive and detracting, if not to serve the luxury lifestyle of our officials. The black-market money exchange operations invariably serve Ghanaians better than the banks and money transfer units. The requisite training and supervision and protection can be provided by the appropriate legal bodies, with input from the operators.

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

Michael Brobbey
Michael Brobbey, © 2005

The author has 14 publications published on Modern Ghana. Column Page: MichaelBrobbey

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