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Mahama, Eight Months Of Sleepless Nights

Sun, 15 Sep 2013 Source: Baidoo, Philip Kobina

President Mahama, Eight Months Of Sleepless Nights Is A Good Alibi, However ...

In certain countries, especially in the developed world, elected leaders after their victory enjoy a period of goodwill from the electorates often referred to as honeymoon. That is when the leader is allowed a breathing space, even from the almighty media, to milk every bit of mileage from his success at the polls. It is a timeout to celebrate, perhaps, to even laugh, which allows the pituitary glands to release its hormone laden endorphins. Probably, it is a biological insurance to fortify the immune system for the ravages of the job ahead. Unfortunately, Mr President your supposed honeymoon period was consumed by the red herring court action over the legitimacy of your success at the polls. I know it was an unwelcome occupational hazard, and I personally will not cry over spilled milk.

I might be ruthless, perhaps, reckless in my criticism of our leaders, however, I know that they do a very difficult job. Satisfying the needs and aspirations of 25 million

Ghanaians is not a garden of roses. The default perception of most Ghanaians about our leaders being corrupt takes the shine out of the sleepless nights they have to endure to keep the country stable. One thing for sure, even the worst corrupt leader wouldn't like to practice his corruption in a chaotic environment. Keeping the country peaceful devoid of any agitation under a constitutional rule of law is a handful to keep anybody awake in the night. Unless the person involved does not take his job seriously.

Having said that, I will reiterate that it is a difficult job, and I don’t have illusions about it. I quite remember when Tony Blair, the former British Prime Minister, came to power in May 1997 his countenance blossomed like the blooming petals of a spring rose. He was youthful and handsome, but 10years on the British political hot seat turned his iconic affable image into the likeness of a flower facing a desert storm. He was a complete burn out. I am quite certain that a lot of people will not be enthused about this analogy, but it is meant to complete a half baked point. Running a delicate young democracy like our own where everyone is jostling for position is a mammoth task in itself, and to be complicated and distracted by Ghana’s legal battle of the century takes it out of this world.

So the retrogression the nation has been experiencing for the last eight month I am prepared to give you the pass, nonetheless, no honeymoon for you. Now that the heavy burden is lifted off your shoulders you have to hit the ground running as your predecessor used to put it so eloquently. A bevy of thinkers have advanced plausible reasons to rationalise the economic stagnation in terms of the purchasing power depreciation of the cedi. The snag is they are repackaged old diagnosis which actually offers cosmetic solutions. A more comprehensive and practical solution needs to be adapted until then everything else will just be an intellectual economic discussion.

Currently, my yardstick for measuring the economy’s health is the strength of the national currency. There are quite a few indicators, but I like to keep things very simple. One of the main contributors of the current slide was due to the fear of investors, the wage bill of civil servants, to a lesser extend the reduction in productivity during the trial and many more. Some of these factors are temporal they can actually be removed or brought under control in the near future, but I can assure you the stubborn problem of inflation, the technical word for the problem we are dealing with will still remain. It has been the major headache of our economy since its effects took a straggle hold during the early 70s.

Without doubt what we face as a nation is the Malthusian trap. A theory developed by the British economist Robert Malthus that food production cannot cope with increasing population growth, which will eventually lead to perpetual poverty or worse elimination through survival of the fittest. What he failed to take account of is the endless collective inventive capacity of the human mind, which has been enhanced and honed into literal perfection during the last century by the power of computers and satellites.

In a nutshell, the crux of our problem is the anaemic productivity level in the most important aspect of the economy – food production. And don’t get me wrong it has nothing to do with hard work, but a problem of obsolescence. We are still, in the 21st century, using cutlasses and hoes to produce our food. There is a limit to what human strength can achieve. The best it can offer is subsistence, and nothing close to affluence.

Though, the immediate causes of the problem are our swollen bureaucracy, the fear of foreign investors, corruption and so on. The government can balance the budget, do its best to remove most of the hurdles, yet the majority of the population will still be living a life of subsistence. The only long term solution is a modern approach to agriculture, especially food production. And obviously, the biggest stumbling block is our land tenure system, which needs a complete overhaul. The custodians of the stool and skin lands will have to be made to understand the need for the change. The management of all arable lands will have to be transferred to the government though the chiefs will still keep the freehold titles. The government will then be managing the leasehold transactions on behalf of the custodians to streamline the process and expedite its procurement by interested parties.

For example, if someone puts in an application for a tract of land the rule should be expressly made clear regarding the formal fees and most importantly how long it takes for it to be processed. That is from the handing over of the application till the applicant receives the title deed. By so doing delays brought on by corruption will be eliminated. And this is where the President comes in. This project will have to backed by the power of his office, perhaps micro managed by him in its initial stages.

Once this is done, though it’s not going to be easy, besides the constraints of private capital, cooperative mechanised agriculture partnership will mushroom across the country. Ultimately, cereal production and other staples will increase, which will have a domino effect within the economy. For example, poultry farming which is dependent on the prices of cereal will increase as prices come down due to mechanisation – absorbing more hands in the process. The excess grains can be exported to balance out our appetite for foreign dishes like Indomie. Mechanisation of our agriculture will make it easy to pave the way for the next stage of our industrialisation development. With productivity increasing, more wealth will be created. Savings will increase leading to the lowering of interest rates. In addition, there will be more taxes available to the government reducing their dependency on government borrowings on the capital market to make up for the shortfalls in their budget. The effect will be less competition for credit, which will further reduce interest rates.

Any other perceived plans to revamp the national economy will not effectively have the desired impact all Ghanaians are looking for. With our current state of technology and productivity regime we cannot compete on the Industrial level within the global market. We have to revitalise what we know how to do best - agriculture.

I cannot begin to catalogue the impact if this rabbit is pulled out of the hat. I am choosing my words carefully, because this is the magic that will transform our fortunes, and not the full blown industrialisation that the purists amongst us are clamouring for.

The Stabilisation of inflation will have a multiplier effect. There are lots of Diaspora Ghanaians who would like to keep their savings in Ghanaian banks. But for fear of inflation this avenue of growth is closed to the economy. It will further draw more foreign Investors when they are certain of planning into the future without the threat of inflation breathing heavily on their necks.

If you should discharge your duties and get the plan started with the first fruits ripening in 2016, l can assure you Mr President, without any equivocation that you wouldn’t have to campaign for the next election. The price will be yours for the taking.

On the other hand, though, I believe you have other plans, this is my free advice. However, there is only one barometer to measure the excellence of your stewardship – the purchasing power of the cedi. All the corruption, excessive wage bills and incompetence will impact on it. So come 2016 if it has fallen by 20% I wouldn't hesitate on my course of action. I have never campaign for any particular candidate in the past, and this is a personal discipline, which will change in 2016, because I am getting tired of mediocrity. Alan Cash, a preferred candidate will be waiting in wings backed by every slick campaign tool in my arsenal.

Philip Kobina Baidoo Jnr.

London

baidoo_philip@yahoo.co.uk

Columnist: Baidoo, Philip Kobina