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21.05.2019 Opinion

The Ghana’s Condition

By Iddrisu ABDUL HAKEEM

Fellow Ghanaians, when will our dear nation truly go beyond aid and stop going back to the International Monitory Fund, IMF, with beggary calabash? And what role will each Ghanaian play to realizing that much talked about dream of our dear President?

I don’t know about the rest of us, but personally, I have never seen a millionaire beggar. Or do we have financially independent beggars in this country?

Indeed, God help those who help themselves.
If we don’t help ourselves, no amount of “thigh” or Father Christmas services of any developed country can suffice and help us improve our lot. Why is that since Independence, no government ever hands over power to an incoming government with physical cash that the outgoing government was able to mobilize? Why is it fresh debts always?

Before I get to the meat of the issue, allow me walk you down memory lane about the World Bank as it is called today.

After the second world war, Europe came back to almost square one. They became war-torn countries, reduced to near penury and underdevelopment. It was during that time America established the International Bank for Reconstruction (of Europe) that subsequently became known as World Bank. Europe sprung up again with the aid of the World Bank that injected the needed capital to support it.

This same method known as the “Marshal Plan” was suggested to be replicated in Africa to aid developing countries. An amount of over three hundred billion US dollars was pumped into the continent. But it simply did not work. Majority of the African leaders if not all, used that aid to organize civil wars and carted the chunkiest of that aid back to the developed world through kickbacks.

The question is, why did it work in Europe and turned into a curse in Africa?

Africans ought to help themselves first before anybody’s aid can work.

Fast forward, in 1962, Dame Margery Perham at the Reith Lectures decided to use a metaphor to illustrate the interaction of Europe and Africa. A sort of balance sheet was used to embark upon a cost and benefits analysis of Africa after its intensive interaction with Europe to ascertain the benefits the two continents gain and who was at loss. You may hazard a guess.

On his part around that period, Professor Ali A. Mazrui in his Book: “The African Condition”, who metamorphosed metaphorically into a Medical doctor as a Political Scientist, examines the body of Africa after an intense “rape” by Europe on her body from 1880s to 1980s.

He came out with six paradoxes of African predicament catalogued into six lectures delivered on BBC in 1979.

The first, he said, is the “paradox of habitation.” Africa he noted was probably the first habitat of man, yet it is the last to become habitable for that same man today.

The second is the “paradox of humiliation.” Africans are not the most brutalized people on earth but we remain the most humiliated race on the surface of the earth.

The third is the “paradox acculturation”. With Africa’s totally different culture from the western world, yet we have been the most westernized race.

According to Prof. Ali Mazrui, the fourth paradox of African predicament, is fragmentation or rather “disintegration” I may choose to call it, where “Africa is by no means the smallest of continents physically but is the most divided politically”.

The fifth paradox he lamented is retardation. Despite the opulent environs of Africa, we languish in poverty with a suffocating underdevelopment that remains albatross our necks for ages.

And finally, there is the paradox of location, where Africa is centrally located vis-à-vis other continents on the globe physically but it remains the most politically peripheral!

Fellow Ghanaians, Ghana as a gateway to Africa and the Pride of Africa, I try to diagnose the Ghana’s Condition as well by resonating the paradoxes of the African predicament in the African Condition by Prof. Mazrui with our country, relating it to our challenges and how to escape them.

For example, just like Africa as the first habitat of man that becomes the last to be made truly habitable, Ghana was the first South Saharan African country to attain her independence but she is truly not independent economically (financially).

Ghana may not be the most humiliated and pauperized country but she has through begging and frequent visitation of the International Monitory Fund, IMF, debased herself into beggary.

Ghana boasts of her rich culture but cannot govern herself with her own system of government, yet she miscopies the western style of governance of the west and she is suffering as a result.

Ghana is a unitary state as a result of its geographical size and limitation with identical culture among her inhabitants, but Ghana remains too fragmented with numerous tribes categorized into something very akin to first, second, and third class tribes.

Ghana holds a key to the continent’s treasury indicated in her former Gold Coast title, yet she remains one of the poverty capital of the continent and many citizens are poverty Degree holders. Retardation is manifested in our national debt stock since Independence up till now.

Despite our location as gateway to Africa, democratic values are still very nascent and alien to the Ghanaian psyche. In Ghanaian politics, man remains wolf to his follow man just as the chaotic nature of our predecessors when the Europeans met them.

No wonder, the leopard does not change its spot.
These are the paradoxes of Ghana juxtaposing that of Africa at large posited by Prof. Ali A. Mazrui in that lecture he delivered in the 1970s.

Of all the paradoxes of Professor Mazrui, my focus will be on the third paradox. The acculturation. African societies, he said, are not the closest culturally to western world, “but they have been undergoing the most rapid pace of westernization witnessed this century”.

Ghana is not exception as the “beacon of democracy”. However, the regret and paradox is that, Ghana and for that matter African countries, have failed flat when it comes to mimicking the western form of governance system. We use their style of politics and leadership duplicating state’s institutions imitating the west, but we are unsuccessful in terms of achieving what they have achieved with that same system.

What is wrong? Ghana cherishes receiving than giving. Ghana always wants to play the Bamboo so that the Monkey (developed countries, IMF) would work for it due to lack of a solid domestic revenue base. Our main source of income is through mineral resources. Unbeknownst to many citizens how many tons of cocoa, bars of gold, or barrels of crude oil sold, colossal of the money is usually looted by political evangelists of political parties in government.

Aside that, there are other areas the state could have made revenue from but our leaders seem to be very clueless on how to tap into those areas of sources of revenue our former colonial masters depend and are able to finance their governments and even reserve some to be borrowed to us at cut-throw interest rates.

The best way to become like someone else is to do what they do. If we chart the paths successful and developed countries charted to their present glory, we can get there as well. But what is it?

I have chosen USA and UK to unravel a little about their tax system and how they have made their massive wealth aside the Myth of their exploitation of developing countries and their peers who are not too smart in the global economic game. I choose them because they are the first and second global powers respectfully.

Why is the USA the most powerful nation on earth with enormous exceptional powers? Their military superiority? How did they get there?

The questions are unlimited if you want to trace their glory.

But the simple truth and the secret is that; they rely heavily on tax. They tax their citizens.

According to the Department of the Treasury of the United States, the chief way the USA make their money is through taxation (workable and functioning).

In the US, 45% of their revenue comes from individual’s personal income; 39% from social security and Medicare withholdings. And in total about 69% of their taxes comes from individuals. The US has the Estate and GIFT Tax; Corporate Income Tax.

UK has the longest Tax Code in history with 11, 520 pages! The main UK taxes are:

Stamp Duty Land Tax that residents must pay if you they buy a residential property.

They have the Income Tax; The Capital Gains Tax; Inheritance Tax taken from dead individuals’ properties unless otherwise stated; UK has ATED (Annual Tax on Enveloped Dwellings) which is an annual charge on residential properties owned by non-natural entities applied to properties valued in excess of two million pounds.

Fellow Ghanaians, we have over twenty-three (23) different Acts of Parliament on taxation after the amalgamation of the three units of revenue agencies (CEPS, IRS, and VAT) into the Ghana Revenue Authority, why is Ghana gasping for breath in her expenditure?

Why can’t we disassociate ourselves from literally begging?

Is it because of corruption?
Is it because we are generally unpatriotic and grateful citizens?

I Shall Return!
The writer, Iddrisu Abdul Hakeem (MCF Scholar), is a student at KNUST, Department of Religious Studies.

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