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25.11.2005 General News

Hackman’s water theory is bogus -analyst

By Ghanaian Chronicle
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A communications analyst for Integrated Social Development Centre (ISODEC) Dr. Steve Manteaw, says the problem with Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL) has nothing to do with management but rather a lack of resources.

He said management contract is not workable, and challenged government to provide Ghanaians with evidence of anywhere in the world where it (management contract) has been able to deliver water at an affordable rate to the poor.

"There is no such thing in the world, so why do they have to lie to us?" he charged.

Six years ago Senior minister, J.H Mensah leaked a world bank document of a $100 million facility that had been offered to Ghana to aid in its privatization efforts in the water sector which appeared to be in danger of being abused by the NDC government to Kofi Coomson through the current Board Chairman of Ghana Commercial Bank, scuppering the deal.

The problem of water privatization appears to be heading for another dangerous precipice as no clear acceptable direction has crystallized.

Mr Manteaw cited examples from other African countries to support his argument on this difficult subject, referring to Senegal where for instance, management contract did not work when it was introduced and now both contractors and the government are blaming each other for the failure and the story is not different from what pertains in Tanzania.

"So for us, government should be able to provide evidence that this will work,” he said.

Dr. Manteaw further said when Ghana Airways was declining and management contractors were brought in, by the time they were leaving, they had multiplied the debt already incurred by the corporation and queried, "Where is the proof that this contract will work?"

Dr. Manteaw challenged the government to do away with Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA), School of Business of Legon and the Institute of Management, if it thinks these institutions cannot produce good managers.

According to him, for government to tell Ghanaians that we do not have good managers and that only a white man can manage our companies is a case that should be a concern to all.

He said if Ghanaians are bad managers and therefore foreign managers are coming in, then, they should live under the same conditions as the local managers, by taking the same salary; "then we would see if they would be able to work better than Ghanaian managers under the same conditions."

"We need to appreciate the work of our local managers, especially under the conditions which they work," he said, asking why a Ghanaian manager could perform excellently when abroad, but does not excel when in Ghana.

Dr. Manteaw explained that this is due to the conditions in which our local managers work, and challenged that foreign managers could not deliver half the results of what Ghanaian managers are able to deliver should they work under the same conditions.

It would be recalled that during his turn at the 'Meet the Press' series, the Minister of Water Resources, Works and Housing, Hackman Owusu-Agyemang, announced that government has opted for management contract for Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL), with a consortium of Dutch and South African companies.

He noted that the joint bid of Vitens International of the Netherlands and Rand Water Services of South Africa, has won the contract to manage GWCL under a five-year management contract.

According to the minister, government settled on management contract, following a careful consideration of available options, in addition to the protestations by civil society groups, like ISODEC, that if the water sector were privatized, the commodity would be priced out of the reach of ordinary people.

"We as the people of Ghana, need to admit that a major problem that has haunted GWCL for years is managerial," he had said, adding that the management contract was the best in view of the critical nature of the product.

The minister had said that Ghana Water Company could not continue to operate with the "business as usual" attitude; or the company would suffer a fate similar to other public institutions such as Ghana Airways.

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