A RENOWNED GHANAIAN economist at the American University of Washington, DC, Prof George Ayittey, has urged Parliament to speed up the process to enfranchise Ghanaians in the Diaspora, through the amendment of People's Representation Bill.
He has also, expressed his dissatisfaction with the government for its lameness in retrieving monies stolen from the state.
Speaking to a group of journalists in Accra, on Saturday, Prof Ayittey, who is on a short visit to the country, said, Ghanaians abroad deserve to be empowered to take part in the electoral process of the country.
The Ghanaian scholar, therefore, urged Parliament to expedite the passage of the controversial Representation of People's (Amendment) Bill, otherwise known as PNDC Law 284, into law, to remove the last vestige that prevents Ghanaians in the Diaspora, to exercise civic responsibilities.
According to Prof Ayittey, “enough is enough of the foot-dragging on the amendment of PNDCL 284”.
He explained that, enfranchising Ghanaians abroad, was not a special favour the government was according diasporans, but rather, a fulfilment of a campaign promise.
He said, it was unacceptable to exclude people, who contribute about $5 billion, through remittances to be excluded from taking part in a crucial decision in who should govern the country.
Prof Ayittey, a known critic of the Jerry John Rawlings regime, and a brother to NDC's Sherry Hanni Ayittey, treasurer of 31st December women's movement, gave a thumb-up for the Kufuor Administration, saying that, the frontiers of good governance, and rule of law, had been expanded by the NPP Administration. Commenting on the 2006 budget, presented to Parliament, last Thursday, the Ghanaian economist, noted that, the budget was in a right direction, pointing out that, the projections were achievable.
“The budget is balanced, because total receipt is equal to expenditure. He, however, urged government to keep lid on frivolous expenditures, in order to keep inflation at below 15 per cent.
The NPP Administration's management of the economy, he said, was “so far, so good”, when compared to that of the National Democratic Congress (NDC). With inflation hovering between 40 per cent and 45 per cent, he said, such economy could not be described as strong, especially when deficits trail every financial year.
Prof Ayittey, however, was of the view that, the current size of government was too large, stressing that, a country such as Ghana, does not need over 80 ministers, before machinery of government could run very effectively. He stated, a bloated government-size, increases bureaucratic bottle-necks in the government sector.
The Ghanaian economist also, took a swipe at the lackadaisical attitude to root out corruption in the public sector.
Government, he said, needs to re-invigorate the fight against corruption, otherwise, poverty would continue to dog the country's forward match. He was particularly irritated that the NPP Administration had not succeeded in retrieving loots of the previous regime.
According to him, the previous regime, through what Prof Ayittey described as its “looting brigade”, ransacked state coffers, and looted the treasury, leaving it empty for the NPP Administration in 2001.
However, he said NPP had been dragging its feet in recovering the state resources from the NDC looting brigade.
Prof Ayittey, who is also the president of a Washington-based non-governmental organisation (NGO), Free Africa Foundation, said his organisation is collaborating with an American organisation, to create malaria-free zones in the country. He said, the pilot scheme of the project would take off in some selected communities, including Teacher Mante, near Suhum, in the Eastern Region, very soon.
The project, he explained will be replicated in other communities in the West African-sub region.
The Ghanaian economist commended Liberians for successfully adopting democratic principles to elect a ruler of their choice. Prof Ayittey cautioned against some unpalatable developments in the continent, citing the case of Burkina Faso, where, after 18 years in power, President Blaise Campaore had put himself forward for election, as well as the uncertainties surrounding the future role of the Nigerian leader, President Olusegun Obasanjo, who is being urged on by praise-singers, to take another shot at the Presidency, despite a constitutional barrier.