By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
Garden City, New York
July 28, 2014
He was President John Agyekum-Kufuor's third cabinet appointee, or so, to the portfolio of Finance Minister, and so I tend to take Dr. Anthony Akoto-Osei far less seriously than the man clearly appears to take himself. Nevertheless, some of his admirers claim that the New Patriotic Party Member of Parliament for Kumasi Old Tafo is the most savvy economic maven after Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia. I have established no opinion vis-a-vis his exact ranking among the economic experts in the New Patriotic Party, except to soberly observe that Dr. Akoto-Osei comes off to the critical and studious observer as a pathologically flummoxed opposition politician who desperately wants to make himself relevant by making his voice loud enough to be heard above the din and general cacophony of our tribunes.
I make the preceding observation because the last time that I heard his voice on a major national issue, Dr. Osei-Akoto was pooh-poohing the indisputably laudable policy decision of having all Ghanaian civil servants, irrespective of status, or ranking, moved onto the Single Spine Salary Structure. To the Old Tafo MP, the SSSS was a burden which the government could not sustain in the long haul. And so, really, it is quite a surprise to hear Dr. Akoto-Osei assert ebulliently that the workers' demonstration against the virtually unbearable economic hardship induced by the Mahama-led government of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) was rather belated.
Indeed, about the same time that he advised against streamlining the salaries of all government employees via the SSSS, Dr. Akoto-Osei also decried what he termed as a bloated civil service payroll that needed to be trimmed by the government's embarking on massive layoffs of its employees, in order to make the civil service sector more manageable and lucrative. And so, really, it is flabbergasting to hear a bottom-line economist like Dr. Akoto-Osei pretending to be wholly in support of the average Ghanaian civil servant.
He also seems to contradict his hitherto conservative policy stance, when Dr. Akoto-Osei takes a potshot at the leaders of the Trades Union Congress (TUC) for first strongly objecting the sale of Merchant Bank to a private entrepreneur, as well as the Atuabo Port, and then ultimately backing down. Obviously, the thrust of his criticism squarely hinges on the fact that such lean-season transactions often involve massive employee layoffs. Still, rather than facilely taking the leadership of the TUC to task for backing the sale of the aforesaid bank and port, Dr. Akoto-Osei would have served his audience better by explaining why putting up the Merchant Bank for sale was such a very bad idea, in view of the fact that his own former boss had expressed his unreserved concurrence with the sale.
It is also rather curious for the Kumasi Old Tafo MP to pretend as if he is not integral to the fortunes and misfortunes of the Mahama-led NDC regime. In other words, as an active member of the legislature, albeit an opposition aisle member, nonetheless, like his one-hundred-plus New Patriotic Party fellow parliamentarians, Dr. Akoto-Osei is a bona fide operative of the third arm of the government. He and his colleagues are as responsible for the bleak state of Ghana's economy as are the majority National Democratic Congress members of our august National Assembly. And the electorate, irrespective of party affiliation or ideological suasion, had better hold the feet of politicians like Dr. Akoto-Osei to the proverbial fire as equally as the NDC operatives. This is what a loyal parliamentary opposition is squarely about.
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