By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
English Department, SUNY-Nassau
Garden City, New York
October 9, 2016
The executive board of the nation’s central treasury, the Bank of Ghana (BoG), has issued a statement vehemently denying that it has initialed a contract with a Swiss watch manufacturer worth $504,000 to supply the BoG with gold-plated wrist-watches worth some $7,000, apiece, which the bank intends to present as gifts to some retiring employees (See “Gold-Watch Purchase Only a Proposal – BoG” 3News.com 10/8/16).
The executive board members of the Bank of Ghana, however, admits to having forwarded a request proposal to the Public Procurement Authority (PPA) for evaluation and approval or disapproval, for that matter. The BoG’s board says that it was the leaking of the aforesaid request proposal to the media that provoked the widespread national outcry over the entire affair.
At any rate, it is not quite clear, like most other issues of similar nature that crop up the media in Ghana these days, whether the public outrage is over the fact of the expressed intent by the BoG to purchase those gold-plated wrist-watches or the actual amount involved in such purchase. Quite a number of financial and business experts have chipped in their opinion on this matter, and for the most part, opinions have been overwhelmingly negative. Perhaps this was what prompted the BoG’s executive board to issue its statement claiming that its contractual proposal has yet to meet with the approval of the PPA.
Knowing what many of us have come to know about the way that such things are done in the country, it is very likely that the BoG proposal will be approved by the PPA before the ink dries up on the paper used in drafting the BoG’s public denial. Like the routine protocol of extremely partisan voting in policy matters in Parliament, the PPA may have already approved of the BoG proposal as of this writing. Still, whether this proposal gets approved by the PPA or not is well beside the point. What matters here is whether the public approves of the monetary value of the gifts.
In other words, is the public in agreement with the fact that, indeed, the retiring employees of the BoG deserve gifts worth the alleged $7,000? If, indeed, the overwhelming majority of public opinion is in consonance with the management board of the Bank of Ghana that appears to have approved of the deal, then the apparent public disapproval would appear to be squarely predicated on the nature of the gift involved and/or the determination of who the supplier of the aforementioned gold-plated wrist-watches ought to be.
So far, the vibes that I have been able to pick up from media gleanings point towards both directions. In other words, the dominant opinion, and I promptly own that my view of the latter is not based on the survey results of any scientifically objective opinion poll, appears to be that purchasing the $7,000-worth of wrist-watches may not be the best way of sending off these long-serving BoG employees into comfortable retirement. Besides, even as my own wife quite thoughtfully and objectively pointed out, in the age of the cellphone, not many people the world over wear wrist-watches anymore, these days, anyway.
But, of course, the old lady also recognizes the fact that as a pricy piece of jewelry, the gold-plated wrist-watches maybe aptly envisaged to be a good form of investment. But even then, who wants to be saddled with the unsavory burden of having to constantly be on the lookout for burglars and bandits? Then also, how many of these retirees would be able to guarantee their gifts’ safely arriving at their intended destinations, once they have been presented these handsome parcels at the send-off parties which are often held in the evening? Or would these gifts be kept in some safety vaults at the BoG until their intended owners can guarantee their protective custody abroad or off-premises?
Then also, wouldn’t both the giver and the recipient be better off having the raw monetary value of these gifts directly presented to the recipients, who would then decide in what shape or form to convert such cash? I mean, why saddle the recipient with the onerous burden of having to find a buyer for a gift that may not necessarily be exactly what the proverbial doctor ordered? And then, also, what if it turns out that these pieces of Swiss-made watches were not, after all, worth even half their purchasing price?
I suspect an argument along these lines is more likely to be far more productive than what seems to be trending presently.
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