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Ken, Put Ghana Back To Work!
 
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18-Nov-2017  
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You may be conversant with the Minority reading the True State of the Nation Address hours after Government has read the State of the Nation Address. You may be familiar with the Opposition reading a fully prepared statement debunking every single claim by the Government in the budget soon after the delivery by the Finance Minister. But, what about the Minority refuting claims in the budget even before it is read, one or two clear days before the Finance Minister has the chance to mount the lectern in Parliament? I don’t remember experiencing this before November 15 of 2017. But that is fine, if it will broaden the frontiers of our democracy.
Beautiful nonsense
But, don’t I doubt that? Some of the attendant practices of the near-polarised Parliament we have bother some of us. Did you watch closely as Kenneth Yaw Kuntunkununku Ofori-Atta read the 2018 Financial Estimates? Many on his (Government) side denied the all-important presentation the concentration it deserved.

Almost all on the Opposition Bench virtually blocked their ears to the budget delivery; nearly literally preventing the Finance Minister from reading the statement, even though it is an essential constitutional requirement.

Some of you, my cherished readers, might jump to the defence of the honourable members on the plea that their excessive applauses, heckling, jeering and general commotion were all part of the democratic process. You might even contend that the acts described by the Right Honourable Speaker as most unparliamentary were all part of the parliamentary democracy.

I have friends who are quick to cite examples from Southeast Asia or even Europe to buttress their claim that the distractions in Parliament over solemn issues are just fine. I respect these views; I firmly disagree with them.



If I had my own way
If I had my own way, State of the Nation Address, Budget and all other serious businesses would be listened to by all members with rapt attention. If I had my own way, the Government side – in listening with spellbound attention – would be meticulously compiling points to buoy their support for the President, Minster or other government official.

If I had my own way, the Minority would be listening with equal attention to pick points, omissions and loopholes as effective ammunition with which to strongly but civilly attack the government during debate time. If I had my own way, members on the regime’s side would regularly point to areas needing improvement, variation or outright rejection. The most beautiful of all would be the Opposition giving credit where credit is due.
If the 28 million people at this side of heaven think it is just fine for some 276 people changing their seating positions in Parliament House every eight years to swap roles in preaching the same things or criticising the same things, I capitulate. But, I think there is a better alternative. Talking about the same things and the shifting of musical chairs; I noticed a few items in Mr Ofori-Atta’s list that belonged to the Seth Terkper or Kwabena Dufuor portfolio.
Recurrent promises
This government has promised cocoa farmers an insurance scheme. Good. But the past two governments formed by the National Democratic Congress, which is now in Opposition, promised same from 2009 to 2016, but, failed to indemnify one single producer of the golden pods.

The last regime promised silos across the farming regions; the very few built are now clogged by rotten cereals.

The new government has similarly pledged crop storage facilities. The fact that you failed does not necessarily mean I, too, will fail. But, wisdom dictates that I investigate your failure to find preventive measures; lest I collapse where you fell.
Jobs for the youth
Creating 100 thousand jobs for high and higher school graduates in a single year is gargantuan, even for such semi-continents and large economies as the United States. What I am saying is that Ken’s promise to generate 100,000 jobs under the Nation Builders’ Corps is an ambitious project by any standard. This is an ambition only surpassed, in recent history, by Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa’s phantom 1.6 million jobs in or about 2010.

Well, once again, the fact that some government’s claim of creating 1.6 million jobs was unverifiable doesn’t necessarily mean that, if you promise 100,000, you can’t deliver. What this regime needs to do is to dedicate itself to realising the lofty ideal.
1-D, 1-F
Ken Ofori-Atta, and the NPP government for that matter, says it considers the job (or rather unemployment) situation in the country a security issue. And rightly so! That is why every effort to create jobs should be discussed with keen interest.

It is in consideration of that fact that Ghana Today turns its attention to the One-District, One-Factory policy. On this flagship project, Finance Minister, Mr Ofori-Atta, promised “at least Two Million Cedis to each of the MMDAs for the 1-D, 1-F project.” Good. But, already concerns have begun rising over possible robbing Kofi to pay Ama. Scraping monies together to give 216 MMDAs at least GH¢432 million should not come at the detriment of the District Assemblies’ Common Fund, the timely receipt of which has often eluded the local authorities.
Conversely, there is the fear that funds given to constituencies and districts could turn out to be duplication, and, encourage non-judicious use of the monies. What our honourable men and women, who last Wednesday did the heckling I take exception to, need to do next is to dutifully scrutinise the estimates with the view to tidying up their allocation.
Paradigm shifts
One consistent economic policy that the NPP appears to be pushing is weaning Ghana off the Breton Woods. Another is shifting development partners’ assistance from aid to trade; prioritising productivity, efficiency and accountability. A third paradigm shift is moving from taxation to production.

You would probably recall that by 2007/8, the second NPP government had publicly declared its intention to stop relying on the World Bank and its affiliates for running Ghana’s economy.

Since very few can be pointed to as shining examples of countries that developed on the wings of aid and World Bank prescriptions, the NPP’s weaning-off intent is worth commendable. But, if wishes were horses, even beggars would ride. We have to put wheels to our wishes as a nation.
Productivity
If you say you want to turn your economy from tax-dependency to production-based, you’ve simply got to produce! We have a Civil/Public Service with less than 650,000 employees and countless ghost names that gulps up 6.9 (almost seven) per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in salaries alone.

Ours is an agric sector overpopulated with old men and women virtually engaged in hand-to-mouth peasant production.

The private sector, though it has recently earned the accolade of engine of growth; lacks credit facilities, is supported by a sluggish or indifferent civil service. The private sector is, thus, quite limited in capacity. We are turning out from our colleges illiterate graduates unsuitable for challenging white-colour jobs, disinterested in farming and ill-equipped with skills and vocations.
Ghana Today is not unaware of measures enumerated in the budget to reform the public sector, basic and higher education. This column is not unaware of the Special Prosecutor’s Bill and other efforts to weed out corruption and inject financial discipline into the public sector. But these promises and the modest gains of GDP growth, taming of inflation, improvement in import cover and macroeconomic gains are all familiar claims now.
We have heard them over and over and over again. What is crucial is to produce far more than we consume. What is important is to manufacture for ourselves and our neighbours such that we export far more than we import. It is necessary to produce what we eat, eat what we can and can what we can’t.

It is essential to seal the holes of financial leakages such that the state coffers plunder comes to a halt. The inefficiencies and misuse of working time and other resources at public and even private offices must be curbed.
Short of earning the irk of the CPP that may accuse you of plagiarism, Ken, I think that your budget title – Putting Ghana Back to Work – is apt. (You remember the CPP’s Ghana Must Work Again war cry?). But it begs underscoring: It is far easier said than done.

Maybe, as a believer, you should go beyond quoting Matthew 13 and Philippians 4:19 to actually reliving the two New Testament texts. It is only when you and your government have put all of us Ghanaians of working age to work and you are instilling discipline in us that the Word will come to pass.

Which Word? “And my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” Amen.
 
 
 
Source: today
 
 

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