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Opinions Mon, 2 Jun 2014

Mr. Kwesi Pratt is Right!

By Cletus D Kuunifaa

There is no politics without propaganda. I am waiting to be proofed wrong. Propaganda in politics is across the world political spectrum, like it or not! Politicians use it. The media - the fourth estate of the realm use it, public relation officers use it, marketing and advertising experts use it, and chief executive officers use it. In short, almost, all professions across the spectrum use this effective tool to their fullest benefit.

As a noun, the dictionary defines Propaganda as: “information, ideas, or rumors deliberately spread widely to help or harm a person, group, movement, institution, nation, etc.”, “the deliberate spreading of such information, rumors, etc.,” “the particular doctrines or principles propagated by an organization or movement.” (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/propaganda)

Sifting through these definitions, I tend to agree with Mr. Kwesi Pratt that the shortage of dollars in Ghana is all propaganda by the opposition. The Managing Editor of the Insight Newspaper, whom I respect by virtue of his objectivity in his analysis of issues, has described the claim that there are no dollars for traders to transact international businesses with as false, but a political propaganda tool being used by the opposition (http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/artikel.php?ID=299448). According to Mr. Kwesi Pratt Jnr., though it is a fact that the Ghanaian cedi has depreciated against the US dollar and other major trading currencies, it is serious and has implications on the economy. He said the assertion that there is a shortage of dollars for business transactions is a propaganda tool that has been adopted by some elements of the opposition to score political capital. He asserted on Metro TV that, “…the claim that traders are not getting dollars to do business is false. It is just a political propaganda.”

His assertion comes on the heels of revised rules governing the operations of foreign exchange and foreign currency accounts in the country in a frantic move to arrest the rapid depreciation of the Ghanaian cedi. The revision of the rules saw the abolishing of cheques or cheque books in foreign exchange and foreign currency accounts. According to the new rules, cash withdrawals over the counter from foreign exchange accounts and foreign currency accounts shall only be permitted for travel purposes outside Ghana and shall not exceed US$10,000.00 or its equivalent in convertible foreign currency, per person, per travel. News that made rounds thereafter was that, this measure by the Bank of Ghana had created a shortage of the US dollar, but Kwesi Pratt Jnr. believes it was the creation of propagandist.

Question is why propagandize to cause panic reactions? If past governments had the magic wand to solve our economic woes, why the economy still is in this shape? The solutions for pulling us through this accumulated economic mess lie in simple applied economics. How are you in Ghana and spending in dollars? How are you in Ghana and being charged to pay for services in a foreign currency? How does that even help to invigorate the economy? And these panic reactions caused by these propagandists would only worsen the case of the falling Cedi.

But, listen to the simple economic logic from Mr. Pratt, “Most of our contracts are given to foreign countries and so even if they are paid in cedis, it will be changed into foreign currencies. With this, the economy does not benefit…why the cedi won’t devalue. If we keep importing things we produce in this country, the cedi will keep falling…those are the fundamentals we need to deal with” he pointed out.

The economic mantra that this President has been championing all the while to patronize “Made in Ghana Goods” will have real impact on the economy. Let’s patronize our own goods. We are in Ghana, so let us stop the craze for the dollar. Let us spend our own cedi in Ghana. The cedi must be recognized internationally. Commenting on this on Peace FM’s morning show‘Kokrokoo’, Kwesi Pratt suggested that if government will stop companies in the country from transacting business in dollars, the cedi will appreciate. That if we keep importing things we produce in this country, the cedi will keep falling…those are the fundamentals we need to deal with” he pointed out.

Mr. Kwesi Pratt said another way to improve on the economy is to change the paradigm. According to him, ‘we need a paradigm shift, otherwise the trajectory will continue’. He added that, “we must find ways to boost production and productivity in the country” and avoid importing items like rice which can be produced in the country”. These assertions have been supported by some of the renowned Ghanaian economists including Dr. Kwesi Botchwey

It is not rocket science about our economy. Certain fundamentals must be righted to be on the right path of economic prosperity. We, the people, have to bear with Government as the President leads efforts toward fixing the economy. The President said, ‘Panic only worsens things in the financial market, so bear with the government, confident and fearless, because we will chart the path for recovery.’ He says his Government is taking ‘all the proper measures to enable the cedi to regain its strength against the US dollar and other major currencies,’ adding that: ‘this is a short term challenge and we will fix it.’

Cletus D Kuunifaa

Transformation Management Consultancy (TMC) Group. Can be contacted at dipnibe@yahoo.com or Follow him on twitter @ckuunifaa

Columnist: Kuunifaa, Cletus D