General News of Thu, 29 Mar 201819

Multi-party democracy not key to development - Lawyer dismantles

In a very stimulating presentation, a business law specialist, David Ofosu-Dorte, has torn into popularly bandied notions that multi-party democracy is key to development describing it as one of several myths.

He said there are several development models which disprove the refrain pointing to a popular example of China.

"China doesn't have multi-party democracy the way we have it here," he said at a Joy FM organised Thought Leadership public forum Wednesday discussing a new mantra 'Ghana beyond aid' espoused by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.

Thanking the President for unveiling the vision, David who is Senior Partner at AB& David said, for Ghana to move beyond aid it must address some myths of development by paying attention to how other countries developed.

"There is no single method of ensuring nations develop" he noted, after studying the paths adopted by at least six countries.

He said the US grew through private capital and less government regulation, Malaysia focused on privatising industries and businesses into the hands of their local people.

For Ghana, the post-1992 privatisation drive was given to foreign investors with uncertainty over its success rate, he said.

He said an interesting example of Singapore, the leader worked to "create the right perception about the country".

Awed by an encounter he had with the celebrated leader, David Ofosu-Dorte explained that Lee Kuan Yew held the belief that humans form lasting impressions in the first 20 seconds.

He, therefore, ensured that the airports were spotlessly clean to leave a lasting impression on tourists and investors. Singapore also banned chewing gum and spitting in public, an action he concedes is very unlikely for any leader in Ghana to take.

He said while India focussed on ICT, the apartheid played a role in developing South Africa.

He was impressed with Ethiopia which he said is following the China model.

But he observed that in Ghana, three development myths hold sway in public discussions - natural resources, democracy and stability.

"I have wondered why we believe these are things that will make us develop. Are they the reasons why will attract investment" he asked, stressing he is not downplaying the benefits of democracy.

Ghana, he said, even borrows $7m every election year to tick democratic boxes.

"...even the most important thing to us we are not able to fund as a nation", he painted a depressing picture.

He said although Ghana is a very stable country for the past 25 years, less stable countries in Africa have better economies.

He mentioned Ivory Coast, Tanzania, Senegal, Djibouti, Rwanda, Kenya, Mozambique, Central Africa Republic, Sierra Leone and Uganda.

These countries are the fastest growing nations in Africa compiled by the World Economic Forum as at 2017.

He concluded that the underlining thread of successful countries as he has observed, is "being able to sell something somebody else wants.

"It can be either labour, services, goods ...even laughter. If you are able to let people laugh, you are able to make money".

The lawyer and consultant lamented the culture of borrowing in Ghana explaining it is a sign of a lack of proper planning.

"We owe today because we borrowed yesterday...and we borrow today because yesterday we did not create the money we need today so if we don't create the money we need tomorrow today, we will borrow more tomorrow and we will be worse off".

He disclosed that Ghana once borrowed from a donor agency using part of the money to buy pianos for civil servants.

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