Rejoinder to Brain Drain

Sat, 8 Apr 2006 Source: Osei-Dadzie, Kwabena

You wrote:

"You also wrote "I am not aware of a single country in the world where doctors in public sevice earn as much or more than the politicians (parliamentarians, mayors, governors, etc, etc)." In Canada, a specialist like a heart surgeon earns more than a minister"

The sentence in my rejoinder should have read "I am not aware of a single country in the world where the AVERAGE doctor in public service earns as much or more than the AVERAGE politician. . ."

More importantly, I seriously doubt if the heart surgeon you referred to in Canada works directly in or for the public service. I strongly suspect that the heart surgeon might be in private practice for him/herself but receives payment from the Canadian health system under Canada's national insurance plan. In other words, the heart surgeon is not paid directly by the government as is the case with the elected politicians. My brother and his wife . . . . . . so I know a little bit about how much the doctors in public service are paid over there. I could not have shared this with others who are ever ready to insult at every chance they get on Ghanaweb.

You stated "There is an urgent need to reallocate resources in our country. My article was intended to generate a debate about these issue".

This is true but again, as long as the politicians are the ones in charge of making policy, if left unchecked and or unchallenged, they would continue to misallocate resources to themselves. One way to change the system is for Ghanaians to look at themselves and decide who are the best candidates to be making policies for them. In a nutshell, Ghanaians should stop voting on purely tribal lines and instead vote for the "best qualified" candidates who would look out for the public's interest. It is appalling to note that there are certain constituencies in the country where a "dog" could even win a parliamentary election if it was with the "right political party". This is very shameful. These yellow dogs don't give a hoot about the electorate who voted for them. After all, most know that they have safe seats, and would win no matter what, as along as voting patterns are strictly on tribal lines. All what these yellow dog politicians have to do is to get the nomination of the dominant political party in the region or constituency, and alas, they are in parliament. In this case, the allegiance of the elected representative is to his/her political party, and not primarily to serve the interest of the people who voted for him/her to get into parliament. There lies part of the problem of representative government and illiteracy among many within the voting public in contemporary Ghana.

As far as I know. Dr. Agyeman Badu Akosa, the director general of the Ghana health services is a medical doctor so are Dr. Anane and Dr. Gladys Nortey Ashitey. The latter two are minister/deputy minister of transport/health respectively in the present government. My question is this: have these two doctors in government pushed for more pay and better conditions of service for health professionals in Ghana? I don't know what the answer is. I am aware that Dr. Akosa has been travelling the country urging the governement to look into the plight of his staff, i.e., the doctors, and many others in the health system, but so far to no avail. The need for action is urgent because our health system today is in peril and fragile. It is on life support.

You also stated "So if they set public policies that are detrimental to the welfare of the electorate, they ought to be voted out come election time. If the next government or party comes and also does the same thing, we again vote them out. With time, the politicians will take this no-nonsense electorate seriously".

Well, well, welll, I think you are being overly theoretical and simplistic with the above statement. You are assuming that the voting public is as savvy, highly educated, and sophisticated as economic professors (smile). The political system is not as open a system as "market competition" (pure competition). Pure competition assumes that in general, all factors affecting supply and demand are known to market participants. To some extent, the political system can be classified as "monopolistic" especially in certain areas in the country where a political party is dominant, and would win no matter who is nominated to be the party's candidate. The mostly "uneducated" public does not have all the information available to them to make rational decisions in terms of voting as buyers and sellers in a purely competitive market. With tribe playing subtle but in my view a dominant role in how many people vote in Ghana, voting out people who make policies that are detrimental to the welfare of the electorate is not as easy as you envision in theory. Again, a divisive politician (demagogue) can often inflame passions by using "emotional' tones to deceive the electorate to vote for him/her even when he/she has clearly not delivered on the promises or underperformed. In other words, some evil but astute politicians, in the absence of all available information to the "uneducated and unsophisicated" voting public, can use fear, intimidation and leanings on tribal affiliation to easily win elections irrespective of their true record in office. I suspected that some politicians in Ghana today and in the past used fear instead of hope to win elections. Tribal demographics, and the affiliation of individuals whose party dominated certain regions and constituencies clearly bore this out. In some constituencies and regions in Ghana, one can easily tell who and from which party is going to win a parliamentary seat without even knowing who the contestants are. The electorate being mostly uneducated, fell for the sucker punches of hollow promises uttered by these greedy politicians who wanted to be in office at all cost. It is very sad indeed. Ghana as a country, has a long way to go to eliminate the influence of tribalism in politics.

In sum, there is the need for more public sector reform in terms of pay, benefits and productivity. There are inadequacies in the Greenstreet report on salary structure, etc within the public service. The government should not take the report as sacrosanct. In a country where the real rate of inflation is a guess work, there should be constant and continuous monitering of pay, benefits and productivity within the public sector to ensure that the purchasing power of the workers are not unduely undermined and or eroded by economic factors. Left uncheked/unresolved, if people feel that they are not adequately rewarded for their services, many would have no other choice but to leave the system and sell their services, perhaps to the highest bidder some where in the world. This is the dilemma and we must find a way to stop the exodus of our professionals to other countries.

Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.

Columnist: Osei-Dadzie, Kwabena