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19.08.2005 Feature Article

The Politics of Neglect and Begging: Is the President of Ghana ....

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..living in a fantasyland? An enquiring mind wants to know. Is governing a matter of the survival of the elect or about solving problems that behooves the nation? The former seems to be more true than the latter in Ghana when our government is put under a political microscope.

As one looks at the many recommendations given by committees upon committees appointed by the government for diagnosing Ghana's economic problems gathering dust at the Castle, one wonders if our politicians and leaders are not just manipulating the people and the machine of government for their own end. It is very painful for any kindhearted Ghanaian to admit that the officials we elected and so much trusted and respect are working so hard but only for themselves and not the good of all the nation. It is not only painful but a bitter pill to admit that our government simply doesn't care. How many good ideas has the government of Ghana not sought from her professionals in the Diaspora and how many of them have been considered lest to implement. Yet it is these same professionals and intellectuals who are helping to build the countries our government parade their corridors for donations. To name a few, USA, UK, Canada, and Australia.

While they toil to support the economy of Ghana on day-to-day basis it is a misgiving for our politicians to ever discredit diasporans to the electorate at any time about whether Ghanaians overseas love Ghana or have good or better ideas to build Ghana. The fact remains that if Ghanaians want a better Ghana they must consider electing a Diasporan as President in 2008. It is even shameful to hear comments that come out of some of our elite from back home. There is this story narrated by the President of Ghana Leadership Union, Kwaku Danso of a friend (Ghanaian elite) who left his fortune in the States to go help build his nation. On arrival one of his colleagues who was already in the system had this advice to offer: You say you are coming to build Ghana? Don't waste your time. Ghana is like a broken down car where everyone is trying to take part of it as spare part. Look, even the civic organizations like Ghana Bar Association have given up or joined their partisan parties and accepted positions for their daily living. They are trying to seek their daily living and the best way is to be friends to the government executive or Ministers (paraphrased).

What an advice! Is this a reflection of the Ghana elite mentality back home? An enquiring mind wants to know. Is it true that these advisers abound in Ghana? And is this the focus of our politicians to get their share of the booty and leave? I thought governments were appointed to serve the interest of the people first. Did the role of government change for Africa? Or has her citizens grown to accept mediocrity? Is it not baffling to learn that in this age of technology our politicians are still bent on paper and pen (applications) or using the cabinet shelf for the Ministries? Do you think the problem is lack of funds to computerize the Ministries? No. That is only an excuse to manipulate the sytem. In an online debate among Ghana Leadership Union of July 29, 2005, Professor George Ayittey of America University cited, “Africa experiences capital flight of up to $90 billion a year and the external stock of capital held by Africa's political elites (in foreign banks) is $700 billion-800 billion.” Why would anybody in the position of responsibility try to resist change? With new software the Ministries can run more efficient, faster, and make more money. They know that but why are they not doing the same? In fact they are too intelligent to know that the system as is creates a black hole. Yet it is about the survival of the Ghanaian (political) elite. They know that the moment they computerized they will be signining their dismissal letters as African officials amass their wealth by stealing it from the existing loop holes and labor of poor peasants. Now get ready for the facts. According to a research report produced by an independent Ghana group in USA copy of which is at the Castle today, Ghana is losing millions of dollars in revenue due to leadership oversight. The report indicates that:

1. Ghana economy loses $5M USA dollar per day at Tema, and Takoradi Habour in bribery and Man -hours

2. Ghana economy loses $1M USA dollars per day on the roads and police stations across Ghana in bribery (17,000 man Police Force)

3. Ghana economy loses $3M USA dollars per week from lost man-hour from our courts because of insane postponement of hearing and another $1M USA dollars in bribery from the AG office to court clerks

4. Ghana economy loses $10M USA dollars in man-hour per week in various public workers service delivery and another $1M in bribery across the country

5. Ghana economy loses $10M a week in man-hour business registration go-come-go-come and fall out in Tax collection.

6. The whole country loses $52M USD per week in per diem payment of which 73% goes into political appointees and MPs.

7. Drivers Vehicles License Office in Tema and Accra also drop another $1M USD in man-hours and bribery per week.

8. Ghana economy loses $1M a day in man-hours, bribery, and litigation from Land use and Land sales and unpaid taxes across the country.

9. Ghana economy loses $10M a week in customer's man-hour, waste of resources, and stealing from utilities providers - Phone, electricity, and water alone. Count in the go-come go-come and illicit payments. Think of waste of water from broken pipes in Accra alone.

10. Doctored documents and records, bribes at the universities, Polytechnics, and secondary schools alone cost Ghana economy $20M USD a year; bank records, academic records, birth certificates, etc. [The researchers interviewed parents and students, Head teachers, Principals, people from universities' registrar office, bank officials, Policemen, Birth and Death certificate office official, Travel Visa seekers, foreign missions personal, travel agencies].

(Any Ghana government official with data contrary to the above could contact the group's coordinators at [email protected] or 734 353 9447).

These figures were released in 2004 yet we have not heard the President/government making any reference in his political speeches or setting any committees to look into this. What is going on here? An enquiring mind wants to know. According to the authors of this research, these figures are based on a 5 years of gutter-to-gutter data collection from Akomadan Police Station to Tema COM 2 Police Station. From Paga to Aflao and that this team of professionals did the survey themselves without recruiting any locals to do their dirty job for them. So, why is the government not interested in what actually goes on at home but rather keep soliciting (help) overseas for loans? An enquiring mind wants to know. Is it not proper business planning and management to seal these leaks before we add more to the national coffers? It is no brainer to know that sealing these black holes will accumulate money and generate more jobs, savings, and improve the economy. Or is the economic adviser to the President so stuck with the 1965 Adam Smiths theory of economics and have no time for analyzing local data? We don't need to re-invent the wheel, just take care of what has already been diagnosed. Let Ghana take a cue after countries like Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong and see how they overcame the poverty of the Third Worldism.

With due respect, may I ask if the President's office need more evidence? Is the President's office aware that it takes not less than 365 days for the average business organization (who will not use the back door) to get a phone line and that majority of the Ghana Police Force for example is on the street soliciting bribes from anyone and every one for anything and everything? When a case reaches the Police Station, it is not time for justice but a harvest time for the inspector. Those in the investigation units are not better. So is the President/government aware of this fact or is it an acceptable culture in Ghana's political arena? An enquiring mind wants to know. When will leadership do something about these wastes? Think about Man Hours – income per day lost to a family of five (father, mother, two children, and one dependant (niece, nephew, grandma or grandpa, disable uncle etc) with one formal income earner because the income earner must leave his job to play the go-come-go-come stupidity with public workers for service. Why can't we seal the hole in the purse before we go asking for more money? The government is busy begging for loans from the West and the police officers and the public servants are also busy begging for bribes and in some cases stealing from the Ministries. Who will discipline whom? Or is it survival of the fitters? An enquiring mind wants to know.

It is my hope that Ghana Statistical Board, The Accountant General, and Ghana's higher institutions will challenge these figures within the next 72 hours. If they don't then they have conceded that these numbers are the facts. Don't tell me they have never considered these studies before when the World Bank and Western countries have data and numbers on us. God save Ghana. By Okyere Bonna, Secretary: Ghana Leadership Union Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.

Okyere Bonna & Bless Berchie
Okyere Bonna & Bless Berchie, © 2005

The author has 33 publications published on Modern Ghana. Column Page: OkyereBonnaBlessBerchie

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