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Opinions Fri, 15 Mar 2013

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Kwesi Pratt Must Share the Blame

By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.

I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Mr. Kwesi Pratt may be finally regaining at least a partial use of his cranial faculties vis-a-vis the apparent criminal profligacy of the Mahama-led government of the so-called National Democratic Congress (NDC) - (See "Kwesi Pratt: Ghana Heading for HIPC Soon If..." Modernghana.com 3/4/13).

In the lead-up to Election 2012, the editor-publisher of the Insight newspaper was widely quoted in the media to be sanguinely claiming that he felt far more comfortable living in Ghana under the government of the National Democratic Congress, because the Kufuor-led New Patriotic Party (NPP) had been irredeemably vindictive towards him. For Mr. Pratt, such vindictiveness came in the form of the NPP government's deliberate refusal to purchase advertising space in the Insight newspaper, primarily because Mr. Pratt had been intermittently critical of the Kufuor administration.

Conversely, with the advent of the Mills-led NDC government, an implicitly more tolerant and democratic administration, however, generous cash began to flow onto the advertising pages of the Insight newspaper, thereby deepening the pockets of Mr. Pratt as well as remarkably enhancing the reach of his media outlet. Indeed, were he honest, Mr. Pratt would also have added, with a conscientious blush, that his name had been boldly listed among the roll-call of government-paid media operatives, with some on the list reportedly receiving free gasoline supply at taxpayer-underwritten government filling stations, in addition to receiving whopping monthly checks ranging between GHC 15,000 and GHC 40,000.

That Mr. Pratt appears not to have raised any eyebrow regarding the source(s) of such profligate administrative largesse on the part of the Mills-Mahama government, constitutes a major part of what is wrong with the crisis-ridden economy of the state of Ghana.

Anyway, in the wake of the revelation by Mr. Osei Kyei Mensah-Bonsu, the New Patriotic Party's Minority Leader in Parliament, that the Mahama-Arthur government had spent well in excess of GHC 600 million above the parliamentary-approved budget for the 2012 fiscal year, Mr. Pratt is reported to have fumed and virulently accused the "generous" hand that feeds him of breaching established constitutional rules. Interestingly, we must also promptly note, the GHC 600 million expenditure overage pertains primarily to the Office of the Presidency.

The National Democratic Congress government itself, and this is where General Mosquito has made the bulk of his reportedly incredible fortune, is reported to have spent GHC 700 million over and above the parliamentary-approved budget for the fiscal year 2012. Add to the latter, the whopping excess of GHC 300 million spent by the National Disaster Management Organization (NADMO), in just three months, and the tally of excessive spending skyrockets to GHC 1.6 billion!

Now, what needs to happen here, before the apparently out-of-control NDC government, once again, runs our proverbial ship-of-state aground, is for Parliament, either through the Speaker of the House, or the Minority Leader, to institute an independent and comprehensive probe into the way and manner in which the above-referenced sums were spent, emphatically bearing in mind the fact that 2012 was an election year. Well, I guess what I am suggesting here is that the sources of funding of the Mahama Campaign must be subjected to a thorough probing by a legally empowered commssion with subpoena powers. And where it is discovered that, indeed, taxpayer money has been illegally applied by the President's campaign organization, the necessary restitution to the State of Ghana promptly ordered.

At any rate, what we learn from Mr. Osei Kyei Mensah-Bonsu is the prompt and imperative need for Parliament to be legally empowered in order to effectively serve as a check on a government that clearly seems to be hell-bent on returning Ghana into the neocolonial rut of economic receivership or HIPC. Needless to say, there is absolutely no guarantee that should the Mahama posse drive the country, once again, into a HIPC regime, the country is apt to recover anytime soon and in the manner healthily induced by former President John Agyekum-Kufuor.

It also pathetically appears that the Mahama government is grossly misreading the country's recent disovery of the proverbial "black gold" to mean a depthless bonanza or cornucopea, or simply as an open sesame to reckless spending in perpetuity. Nothing, of course, could be further from reality.

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*Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.

Department of English

Nassau Community College of SUNY

Garden City, New York

March 10, 2013

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Columnist: Okoampa-Ahoofe, Kwame

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