There are a good number of reasons why Franklin D Roosevelt's era could be compared to the current situation of Ghanaian politics. In the midst of the great depression, that is, around 1933-1934, he championed many programs which are also relevant for our time. Historians categorized Roosevelt's program as "relief, recovery and reform" and they were urgently needed to handle the precarious moment of that difficult period. Relief was urgently needed by tens of millions of unemployed Americans who looked up to the Federal Government for support and shelter. Recovery meant boosting the economy back to normal because many companies could not employ as demand for goods and services were affected due the uncertainty that the market faced. Reform meant long-term fixes of what was wrong, especially with the financial and banking systems. Consolidation of the different banks to form a strong financial backbone to the strong economy which was in the offing was needed. What we have witnessed the past months in this country was that Ghanaians needed all the above in order to help them fix their private and domestic economies as well as the Government needed a restructuring of the financial and banking system in preparation for an impending strong economy.
One important measure which was utilized by Franklin D. Roosevelt to deal with transient mass unemployment in his presidency years included the Works Progress Administration (WPA), which set up a national relief agency that employed two million FAMILY HEADS. At the height of WPA employment in 1938, unemployment was down from 20.6% in 1933 to only 12.5%, according to figures that were presented by Michael Darby. I believe strongly the measure that were presented by President Akuffo-Addo in order to employ 100, 000 NaBCo graduates temporary was enormous to deal with unemployment in the country. So far, I think the funds for this venture have been widely used as so many graduates who were employed earlier have also been absorbed into the public sector when they became vacant.Those employed in Ghana for a one or two-year period could relief many families from poverty. It is also a boost to the One District-One Factory Projects, which also seek to provide jobs for desperate Ghanaian citizens.
Apart from Free SHS which its importance is going to be felt in the next twenty years or more in the country, the railway development projects could lead to the economic transformation in the country. The latter program, in my opinion, should be coupled with the Interstate Highway System in Ghana, that is, the linking of the regional capitals with new cemented highways that was mentioned sometime ago by the Vice President Dr Bawumia, supposing we were capable of procuring the Century Bond that had been discussed of late . It is from this perspective that we think the President courting to borrow Eisenhower's legacy in US is essentially significant. The latter could be combined with a much sharper stress on a strong science education in the country. The inter-Region/State Highway System of Ghana could be financed through the issuance of bonds and I see no reason why this brilliant idea could be opposed by a segment of the politicians who know very sure that currently because of protectionism which is ongoing in the world it will be difficult to get loans or even be given some support in connection with developments. Initiation of this vital projects could bring enormous economic transformation in the country as well as it will bring revenue and also propel the nation into the future concerning its economic prosperity and development providing us adequate and superb infrastructural developments in the country.
Mr. Akuffo-Addo at this particular moment in his presidency should emulate Franklin D Roosevelt on the manner he forged closeness to the ordinary American people as a whole in order to inform them about his policies and the impending reforms he was to make in the economy. The most famous and the greatest of all the USA Presidents through his series of radio talks, known as fireside chats, presented his proposals directly to the American public during his post-depression years. This increased his popularity as no journalist could twist his famous utterances and also replace them with their own.
On the question of rekindling interest in cultivating forestry in the country, he made us aware that “Our conservation policy...merely to preserve.... Our new policy goes a step further. ...not only preserve, but create new ones. (F. Roosevelt)
It had been recorded that Roosevelt had a lifelong interest in the environment and conservation starting with his youthful interest in forestry on his family estate. “Although Roosevelt was never an outdoorsman or sportsman on Theodore Roosevelt's scale, his growth of the national systems were comparable.” The greatest president of the USA was active in expanding, funding, and promoting the National Park and National Forest systems. During his presidency, their popularity soared, from three million visitors a year at the start of the decade to 15.5 million in 1939. “The Civilian Conservation Corps enrolled 3.4 million young men and built 13,000 miles of trails, planted two billion trees, and upgraded 125,000 miles of dirt roads. Every state had its own state parks, and Roosevelt made sure that WPA and CCC projects were set up to upgrade them as well as the national systems.”
Sweden and Finland who had earlier on been the more advocates concerning plantation of forest and conservation and its resuscitations as well never became tired of doing that. Presently, these two nations export timber and refine wood products, such as paper which make a sizable part of their GDP.
Ghana should follow the footsteps of these progressive nations who also utilize their forest reserves not only to aid the ecosystem but also to lure tourists into their countries apart from the fact that it brings domestic gains into the economy.
Professor Desmond Ayim-Aboagye
(DEAN OF FACULTY OF ARTS AND SCIENCES)
Regent University College of Science and Technology
P. O. Box DS 1636
Dansoman - Accra
Tel: +23302939900 / Mobile: +233243798102
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