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22.03.2010 Feature Article

IS THIS THE BETTER GHANA WE WERE PROMISED? PART (I)

IS THIS THE BETTER GHANA WE WERE PROMISED? PART (I)
22.03.2010 LISTEN

For some time now, there have been huge public outcries, as to whether Ghana our beloved country, is experiencing a bitter or climbing a better transformational ladder, under the new NDC government. There are some schools of thoughts, who argue, the Mills –Mahama led administration, needs ample time, to manifest its better Ghana agenda, since it is a little over a year old. However, I respectfully beg to differ from those assertions. It is a fact, the transitional period is far over and indeed, if the brouhaha about the presidents ineptitude and failure to live up to the expectations of the populace, keeps escalating as the days passes by, then it points out to mean, Ghanaians are much more discerning and wouldn't want to be taken for a jolly ride.

The then candidate Mills,during the heat of the 2008 presidential elections, made an over ambitious and unrealistic promises just to win the hearts and mind of the masses, and to add salt to injury, he did stated unequivocally, in his inaugural speech as president, that he was going to hit the ground running, especially with the catalog of promises he made during the electioneering year.

Contrariwise, what we are experiencing now is far from the latter. I believe the president, if he will be sincere to himself, will come to terms with the alacrity with which is government is been lambasted by both members of his party and the opposition. But before I delve into my substantive issue, let me begin by defining what is meant by “Better”. It is simply described, by the oxford dictionary as “more excellently or effective or perhaps more desirable or satisfactory”.

Many will agree with me, there can never be a better Ghana, if the Mills-Mahama led administration does not live above the standards set by erstwhile NPP administration led by His Excellency John Agyekum Kuffuor. There are numerous successes chalked under the NPP regime, but I will touch on just a few to buttress the point, I am trying to build. In 2001, when the NPP took over the reigns of power, they consistently grew the economy from 3.2% to 7.3% in 2008, despite the economic meltdown which hit the globe around 2007.The inflation and interest rate which was sky rocketing around 40% and 35% as at 2001, was drastically reduced to 18% and 25% respectively, as at 2008.The size of the economy was quadrupled from $4 billion in 2001 to $16 billion in 2008.The minimum wage, which has been a major concern to the labour unions were increased from 0.62Gp to GHC2.50 and also the per capita income shot from $264 to $712 in 2001 and 2008 respectively. The infrastructure which has sprung the length and breadth of the country is visible for all to see, especially in the education, health and road sector, which saw an increase in the kilometers from 32,000km to 63,000km.The social mitigation's such as the School Feeding Program, which saw an astronomical increase in enrollment of school children, the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP), which catered for the vulnerable and destitute in society, free maternal health care etc. which were introduced by the erstwhile NPP government, brought a great relief to the people of Ghana.Though, the NPP held a conservative and capitalist view, it was able to create the enabling environment for businesses to flourish as well as meeting most of the social aspirations of the people. All these achievements could not be attained out of luck, but by a high sense commitment, hard work, direction and responsiveness to the plight of the ordinary Ghanaian.

The bitter pill, we are forced to swallow, is as a result of mismanagement and incompetence of the Mills Administration to tackle the core issues confronting the nation, since his inception as the commander-in-chief. All that, we keep hearing from the government, which promised to better the lots of its people, are excuses upon excuses. It seems to me, the NDC government has not wakened up from their slumber, to take off the propaganda vest, for them to put the nation on the right pedestal.

The harsh standard of living and economic conditions, which have characterized the Mills administration has brought a lot of pain and frustration on the faces of the ordinary Ghanaian. Every aspect of the economy is retrogressing leaving no hope, for a better Ghana we were all promised. In my subsequent paragraphs, I will highlight on some of the major failures and hopelessness of the current administration.

Indeed, the growing unemployment rate, especially among the teaming youth force, is a major concern to me as a young man, starting up life independently. The erstwhile NPP administration, due to prudent fiscal management of the economy, were able to secure a B+ credit rating, which enable them to raise capital and issue bonds to cushion the national budget, that made us independent from the IMF and world Bank. However, during last year, based on the lack of ideas and incompetence of the Mills led administration, we found ourselves, swimming in the pool of the Bretton Wood Institutions, in which the government secured a loan from them, without recourse to the killer conditions, such as the net freeze in public sector employment for the next two years. This certainly couldn't be the better Ghana, the youth of this country were promised. To further compound the situation, the president in this year's state of the nation address, clearly voiced out that, he is now expecting a blue print on job creation from his ministers by the close of the year. I was really devastated by that statement of the president, what it means is that, not only have we wasted one full year, the government itself has no vision for the youth. Funny enough, only last week, the deputy minister of information, Hon. Samuel Okudjeto Ablakwa, retorted that the government, since last year, has created about 1.6 million jobs. I believed he might, have conjured that figure from the sky, just like Okomfe Anokye did with the Golden Stool.I am yet to see any advertisement of such jobs, so I can as well apply.

Another imperative area, which is the energy sector, leaves much to be desired. The issue of crude oil is one which has consistently caused embarrassment to the government of President Mills. After Ghanaians were promised, a drastic reduction in fuel prices, what we have now is a drastic increase in fuel prices and its related commodities, coupled with frequent shortages, making users of those products, especially drivers and restaurant operators queue for weeks and even months. This could never be a better Ghana, when during the Kuffuor era, such shortages never existed. In the peak of the shortage in crude oil worldwide, the NPP government, sold a gallon of petrol for GH¢5.30 whiles crude oil was been sold in the international market at $147 per barrel yet the NDC government is selling a gallon of petrol for G¢ 5.00,when crude oil is been sold internationally at $70 per barrel. Additionally, there have been astronomic increases in prices of utilities, due to conditionality's by the Bretton Wood Institutions. Ghanaians should prepare for a shocker, as the Volta River Authority is mounting pressure on the utility companies to increase their tariffs higher.

In some couple of years back, especially during the electioneering season, when the NPP were boasting and making the world know about their success in growing the economy, with an impressive economic indicators, the NDC party propaganda machinery were at its best, downplaying it, saying they were concocted and even if it were true, Ghanaians were not going to eat inflation, GDP, interest rate etc.

Surprisingly, they find themselves in government today, making noise about reduction in inflation and budget deficit. Instead of the government spending and injecting more capital into the economy to stimulate it, for its expansion, it is busy cutting down expenditure by withholding spending, just to reduce the budget deficit. I am indeed, not surprise, as the people who managed the economy in the mid-nineties and threw it in the garbage for ex-president Kuffuor, to pick it up and re-brand it, are the same people manning the affairs of the state today.The economy has declined from 7.3% of GDP to 4.7%, whiles Investor confidence has reduced, with banks' lending rates at a higher side. I wonder if anyone can call all these better, considering were we came from.

To crown this first episode of the article, let me simply ask, can one be much sure of what he or she is doing and yet be slow? Does that not amount to incompetence and deception? Food for thought (asem se b3).

I LOVE GHANA!
Credit: Chief Obosu Mohammed
[email protected]
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The author is an NPP Youth Activist and the Director of Communications for the Patriotic Youth Front (PYF), a coalition of young individuals committed to the course of the Danquah-Busia -Dombo tradition, by propagating its ideals and organizing an effective radical grass root campaigning, with the Zongo communities and fresh voters been the focal point of our undertaking, to ensure an overwhelming victory in the 2012 elections and beyond

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