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Open Letter to Baah Wiredu
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Open Letter to Baah Wiredu

Sat, 8 Dec 2007 Source: Danso, Kwaku A.

November 27, 2007
To: Hon. K. Baah Wiredu
Minister of Finance & Economic Planning
Office of Parliament,
Government of Ghana
Accra, Ghana
Cc: Hon. J.H. Mensah, Senior Minister, c/o Parliament House, Accra, Ghana His Excellency J.A. Kufuor, President, Office of the President, Accra, Ghana
ON THE FINANCIAL HEALTH AND FUTURE OF GHANA (An Open Letter)
Dear Hon. Baah Wiredu,
Every time I read one of your budgets and statements especially about the economy of Ghana I feel sorry for you because I know you did not create the problems and there are certain global forces you do not seem to understand. I also feel you are genuinely trying but perhaps don’t have what it takes to solve this myriad of problems involving Ghanaian culture of corruption, public thievery, selfishness and lack of faith in the public service. Not that the rest do understand either. Sir, do you really think by selling all state assets to foreigners, awarding all contracts to foreigners, opening your doors to so-called free trade, and taxing everything that can be seen at the ports of Ghana, or in Ghana some 100-300%, Ghana can survive? As much as I empathize, I know you know better than that. Having said the above, I think you are now responsible and if you want to, can solve some of the major problems of Ghana’s public corruption and mismanagement. With the power of your brains and your pen, you can order for example a solution for the following issues below.
1. Law Enforcement and Discipline – Sir, there can never be a safe and sound socio-economic development of a nation without enforcement of rules, regulations and laws. There should be fast investigation and prosecution of all involved in the recent discovery of massive losses from the Auditor General’s audits, all the way to the 2001 forensic audit report by Sterling Financial Ltd, Morrison & Associates, Baffour Awuah & Associates and James Quagraine & Company of C1.3 trillion in 11 institutions from 1992 to 2000 (GhanaHomePage, 2004, April 16). Please let us learn to separate the politics from the enforcement of laws and codes and regulations! You are perhaps the only NPP Minister not running for the Presidency. Please step up and take responsibility for the use and abuse of our moneys! If you don’t mind my saying this, one of the major differences between us and the members of our primate cousins in the animal kingdom comes from this adherence to discipline and codes of human behavior. Why does the taxpayer have to pay for police officers, law enforcement officers and prosecutors, and even Judges if they cannot do their work? Tell me, why should we pay for even the white wigs and robes for Judges if they cannot make judgments and some cases take an average of 11 years! Is that justice?
2. Integrity & Social Credit Defaulters – Anytime a culture develops that makes people borrow and don’t pay, reap where they have not sowed, and their word not being good enough, plus legal enforcement not a strong policy, we have a problem with global business transactions also. The influence of this in a multi-cultural business environment cannot be overestimated. Many studies including those of Harvard Professor James E. Austin illustrate the reasons why for example Europeans and Americans would rather prefer to invest in cultures similar to theirs. The Western push for democracy around the world is nothing more than for pure business reasons! Almost everybody in Ghana is forced by economic circumstances and a submissive culture of seems to shade the truth if not actual practice of fraud. For the Ghanaian businesspersons who borrowed money from the time of the PNDC, NDC to NPP time, the simple thing which I place under your responsibility is to investigate and have the law work if there was any financial fraud. It does not matter if you are not the Attorney General – just call for an independent investigation of anything dealing with public finance and then give the case to the AG. Example what came of the C1.3 trillion found out to have been missing or embezzled during the first few years of the NPP administration. If Osafo Maafo gave it to God, or was expecting somebody else to force the issue, please don’t follow suit! Up till now, neither the former finance Minister Osafo Maafo, nor yourself, have found it as your duty to the nation to bring charges and have the Attorney Generals office prosecute these culprits! Have you also called for an investigation of the recent audit reports? Sir, do you expect some NGO or Transparency International to come and present evidence to put these culprits in jail if need be? Sir, this cultural lack of enforcement or “gyae-ma-no-nka” principles and practices hurt and affect not only our economy but our global reputation and business image as a nation and a people. No nation on earth listens to reports like these and takes no action! Where is the President in this? Is he still traveling?
3. Medical Insurance and Sales tax Revenue – When it comes to the NHIL, Sir, there are lots of public disclosure you need to make. People are not getting what they pay for. Ghanaian elites in government have made basic medical care a major class war where the poor die daily and the rich can have access to air conditioned suites and the government officials travel overseas for service. What kind of system is that when we all pay the same 2.5% of whatever we import or consume! For a typical house constructed today of say $200,000 in East Legon, Kumasi, Abetifi or Aburi, the material cost may be 80% or more and hence the 2.5% NHIL implies the owner has paid $4,000 over the period for health insurance and $20,000 (12.5% of $160,000) for VAT taxes. Why then do you not have clean cities? Why can’t post Nkrumah-era governments see the need and responsibility for clean and health environments! Why can’t you have covered underground sewage for residential areas? Sir, why should those building houses have to pay for their own covered sewage called manholes, then water reservoirs and motors to pump water, and generators? Why?? What will it take for this simple Arithmetic to be understood? The $20,000 paid for VAT, multiplied by 40,000 homes in a subdivision of Accra (if we subdivide Accra into say 4 each with 400,000 population with 10 average per household) should be shared between local and central government and let the local government build these infrastructures of modern life! 20,000 multiplied by 40,000 homes comes to $800 million!! Sir, does this seem too difficult to do? When you travel to any Western country, why not find out how they do it!! Are we smarter than a 5th grader?
4. Proper Personal and Property ID -Talking about Banking defaults, Sir, how do you find somebody who is living at P.O.BOX 234 in Accra near the old Polo grounds or the big tree? Have you ever thought why America and the Western financial and credit systems work so beautifully when you travel? How does a society build and develop without financing? How do rich investors and Banks lend money without risk assessment and identification of people and property? Sir, this is the common sense of a 5th grader (if you don’t mind the recent American joke), and I expect you to step up and take charge! Demand the street naming and house numbering from all DCEs, MCEs, etc before their next pay check and trust me this will be done in 30 days to a maximum of 3 months!! Sir, let us use our common sense, and at least continue what the Colonialist and Nkrumah did. At least we are not that dumb not to be able to name our streets, put the signboard up on a Post, and number houses consecutively in some easy to remember order! Come oooon! Honorable! Do we need World Bank expertise and loans to do this also? Sir, do you know what foreigners think of Africans? Think about it! I don’t like to count myself among them, but honestly, if you don’t mind my asking, do you think we are that dumb?
5. Ghana Airways – Please call for a thorough independent investigation into why and how Ghana Airways was losing money when the plane was full almost every flight and other airlines were making profit. How do you expect me and others to keep paying higher port duties and taxes so officials can get away with unethical and criminal conduct? How do you bill the Ghanaian taxpayer for the “total of 260 creditor claims amounting to US$209.0 million, excluding employee claims” as reported by the Official Liquidator (MyJoyonline.com, November 16, 2007). Sir, how do you sleep well at night knowing that you are allowing criminals in the government to get away on a job that is your responsibility? Sir, you are a Lawyer and I think you should be aware that allowing billions and trillions of cedis to be lost to the State due to your fear or inability to investigate and provide such evidence of wrong doing to the AG office and State prosecutor is tantamount to criminal negligence yourself! Take charge! Ghana does not need a nice handsome person for the job you are doing. The people want a person who can take control of our financial transactions! Period!
6. Port Duties and Government Extortion – Sir, I use the word extortion because that is what is going on right now, started by Dr. Botchwey in the PNDC /NDC time and continued under the NPP till your watch now. It over 20 years!! It must stop! Why should government demand $9,000 in duties and taxes for a car that sells for say $3,000 in America? Do you ever expect our nurses, doctors and teachers to ever buy a car without having to make deals on the side and stealing also? Cars in new condition but damaged by accident and salvaged are examined and purchased for ten cents on the dollar and shipped to most poor nations today from America. Why are Ghanaians the only country denying their citizens the right to purchase cheap also? You are not an Engineer, so please don’t give me this Ghanaian excuse that they may not be safe when repaired! Do you know how many lucrative jobs in auto repair this business is creating? Sir, let’s stop this extortion at our ports. The NPP promised to stop some of the bad behavior of the P/NDC era. Did you? Do you remember there was a time in late 1960s, early 1970s to Dr. Busia’s time, when no duties or taxes were paid on cars of returning Ghanaians from abroad. Do you also know our women have to go to Togo to purchase cloth to sell in Ghana. Isn’t that a disgrace? What are you doing about it? Have you brainstormed with some of the brilliant minds of the modern Ghana, or Hon. J.H. Mensah and his age are the only ones we have to listen to?
7. Ghana’s Roads - Find out how and why Ghana roads, both highways and rural roads, are not built to quality standards and most of them are death traps and all of them seem to wash away after one or two rainy seasons! For example the East Legon road that I was complaining about in my article on Ghanaweb in summer 2004 were repaired, well,,, shall we say “surfaced”, in 2005. However, again by the summer 2006 the roads were in disrepair with lots of dangerously huge potholes. Sir, have you ever thought that you are wasting the taxpayers’ money by hiring these thieves who masquerade as contractors? Why don’t you step up to the plate and act as a responsible manager of the peoples’ money? Sir, don’t you know that people look up to you for this job? This is not the Attorney General’s job until you present evidence! And this is easy to document! Simply hire a couple of Professors at KNUST and few students and the job is done! They will gather enough evidence to bring criminal actionable evidence that our roads are being built as death traps, not to engineering specifications, and killing and maiming thousands every year!! This is enough to put people in jail and we expect you to act in this way!!
8. TRAFFIC- Sir, I am sure you perhaps think that there is no solution to the traffic problems in Accra. Honorable, think again!! Have you consulted with any real Engineers since you were hired on this job? I am not talking about Engineers who have never even driven a car and don’t even know the feel for a road! When was the last time you really sat down to ponder on possible solutions to the traffic mess in Accra and the cities? My sister told me this morning she woke up and took my mother to Korle Bu from East Legon at 5am, supposed to arrive at 7:30am and yet her budget of 2.5 hours was not enough. She was late! For God’s sake, Hon. Minister, will it be too much if I asked you: Where did you and your colleague Ministers go to school? Were you not taught that problems are solved by man? Consider a few points to ponder: - Post Offices – Do you know that every week more than an estimated 100,000 people have to travel to check their mail at the Post Offices? This short trip of say 5 miles actually costs a minimum loss in productivity of 5.2 million man hours per year and that is a lot of money the state losses in addition to the traffic delay!! Sir, with the power of your pen you can change that in 6 months! Assuming a mere 15 miles per gallon of petrol, this will save Ghana a minimum of $13.9 million per year.
- Dying in Traffic – Sir, are you aware that people actually die in traffic since they are not able to get the hospital in time? How would you like to be responsible for the deaths of many thousands who are unable to pry through 3-5 hour traffic jam in Accra and Kumasi alone, simply because you did not act!
- Distribution of shopping centers in Accra – Sir, do you not notice that traffic to major marketing centers in the cities are partly to go to work and the rest for shopping? Why is it that you travel to Europe and America and have not noticed that Shopping centers are zoned in most of the West by the government for such. Why do you allow a place like East Legon to develop and there is no areas set aside for Shopping centers? Did it ever occur to you that as Minister of Finance, you can influence the Commissioner of Lands since you write everybody’s paycheck? I am stretching a little here, but it is true that you are the most influential Minister in the Kufuor government, whether you know it or not.
9. Poverty Reduction – Perhaps one of the terms you members of the executive in Ghana and the poor nations use that makes me mad is the term “poverty reduction”. For God’s sake, ponder on this term very carefully!! What is poverty and what are the causes of poverty? Sir, do you think you can simply take a $540 million gift from the taxpayers of America, give it a fancy name like Millennium Challenge Account, distribute the money at $100-$200 each to poor people and expect to reduce poverty? Come ooooon!! Sir, most of you are well educated and about the same age as I am, if not even younger than I am. I know some of my students are running for the Presidential nomination on the NPP ticket (Clap! Clap! Clap!) but for God’s sake, think again!! Can you really reduce “ohia” by giving somebody $200 or even $1,000? Have you or anybody on your staff done a business Profit and Loss projection plan for these people to know their cost of living and how they can get out of poverty? Honorable, Ghana is 50 years old and some of us, like yourself performed very brilliantly in the Western education. So what is wrong with us? - as Honorable J.H. Mensah has started asking himself. Sir, we are not children anymore! I will refer you to a couple of chapters in my book where I make comparison of three cultures: The Euro-Caucasian (American) culture, the Asian-Confucian (Singapore) and the African (Ghanaian) cultures. (Ref.: Danso, K.A., 2007, Leadership Concepts and the Role of Government in Africa: The case of Ghana, Xlibris). Sir, please save us the embarrassment and stop using the term “poverty reduction” in Ghana. Talk about and measure the number of high paying jobs the government is creating and let us set standards of measurement of the cost and standard of living in Ghana! Sir, you may not do much shopping these days, but I do when I am in Ghana, and I can assure you that food and grocery costs far less in California than in Accra, Ghana! And the average worker in California makes more than 20 times what the average worker makes in Ghana. Sir, have you sincerely ever calculated these numbers for yourself and thought about it? Please do!
10. Globalization, Competition and Employment – Sir, I can go into pages and pages, but suffice it to say that, as described above about cost of living, the difference between the man in California and one in Ghana is not intelligence, but how that intelligence and education is used to compete globally and create high paying jobs. I am not talking about cassava and cocoa planting jobs (with all due respect to our farmers), but talking about jobs that bring high value to other members of the human race that they will pay a high price for the products. You and I of the age where we remember the image of China in the Western media. Only 25-30 or so years ago China was not respected at all in the Western media and the only serious thing you read about them was their communism. This changed slightly when they launched their first Satellite. I lived in America since 1968 so I can tell you stories you may not know. Sir, after China understood the game of globalization which goes with technology and “customer focus” (as Prof. Jick and Prof. Peiperl of the London School of Business put it), their economy started to turn around! Today China has a budget surplus with America of more than $100 Billion and over $1.3 trillion with the rest of the world!!! That is the reason they are trying to invest that money overseas in Africa. Do you and your co-executives of government have long term any strategy? Please ask the President.
11. Communications and Energy – Sir, are you aware that with modern broadband Internet communication, I can run almost all my business from my home office, negotiating financial transactions in the millions of dollars every month and having documents such as home title reports, appraisals (valuations), and hundreds of pages and pictures are delivered online? In summer 2004 I was running my business in Ghana when I was there. Of course a generator is a must now and how much generator cost can a business sustain! Last year alone my estimate is that Ghanaians spent over $500 million in the cost of generators alone, and nobody has gone to jail for the poor energy planning! Nobody has been fired either! See the culture why we are behind? In America many would have lost their jobs for the poor planning! With high speed Broadband, I can shop for material and commodity prices all around the world for a factory? I pay only $33 per month for a speed of 10 Million bytes per second in America. In my Ghana home office I paid $100 for installation and pay $60 monthly for 128,000 bytes per second and it’s not even reliable! It takes an hour to upload 8MB of pictures that takes me a second to do in my California. So how do you compete with me?
One wonders why Ghana feels we can compete globally if we sell all our valuable assets including our basic backbone infrastructure, the telecommunications company, Ghana Telecom, and Water systems, and even our valuable hotels for pennies on the dollar! Have any real estate valuations been done on these sales? Sir, do you executives in the government ever think of national security and the long term? How can you have a foreign company manage your most valuable access to health (water) and the world outside (communication backbone) and rely on imports only for energy! Do you know that without good effective communications and reliable electricity, Ghana can never ever compete globally and we will forever be destined for mediocrity and begging as we are doing? Sir, I know you and the President perhaps mean well, but from my vantage point, I think there is a level of naivete exhibited by some of you in executive positions, and I am sorry to say it and hope you forgive me. I believe I am old enough to be honest with you. We are not moving an inch until and unless we figure out how to keep pace in modern communication and basic services. The old drumming don’t go far anymore. And these service companies are very easy to finance because people in business need them and are paying for them!! See the big windfall that these foreigners made from the sale of the Cellular communications company! Over $ 2Billion for the sale of Areeba™. Do you know Ghanaians overseas pay 50% more to dial to cell phones instead of land lines? How about if you push to deploy the fiber optic lines already designed and built by VRA many years ago? I have a copy of the document and we cannot deny that we have talent right there in Ghana! Did you think of this?
12. The Role of Government - Sir, the whole secret of human and societal development lies in the role of “government” to make the society adapt to modernized global systems of transportation and communications. The role of government involves putting system in place that facilitate financial transactions in business, local and global, and allow your people’s businesses to operate, employ people and compete with the rest of the world. Period! Look, we have very rich people as in my home area of Kwahu, but they die with nothing left for posterity or to show the world. How does an individual self proprietorship as we have in Ghana, no matter how rich, compete at the global level without a government? Huh! Sir, don’t be deceived. Capitalism does not work in a vacuum without a government. We are left behind because rural Africa is left confused with our systems of post-colonial government! Central government has failed since the elite did not learn to apply technology and modern forms of management. The Chiefs have no power. My home town of Abetifi, a rich area with their surrounding rich towns in Kwahu, has no water and yet many mansions! Where is the (local) government!!!?
Sir, Americans still give subsidies to their farmers and small businesses do get government SBA guaranteed loans up to sometimes 90% or higher. Please, I have been in the industry myself for about 20 years now and know how it works. China is in a Win-Win situation. Through discipline work force, they now are creating employment for their people and have large amounts of foreign direct investment from Americans and the West. The Westerners also get to buy cheap Athletic shoes, blue jeans, toys, communication and electronics products, and even cheap imported Chinese fish these days! (There is a small price of contamination and lead poisoning, but that is part of life, growing pains). Some Americans are complaining, but if they can buy $10-$20 athletic shoes for their kids that used to cost $50-$120 when my kids were growing up, very soon the complaints die down, the big boys make their profit, and globalization takes control.
Sir, I am in your age bracket, and I believe over the years I have washed my hands well to dine with adults like Senior J.H. Mensah, to use the wise sayings of an Akan proverb. Actually three of my students from a school in Kumasi I taught in the 1960s are running for the President of Ghana. I think it is about time I spoke out. I have been monitoring and studying Ghana for over 3 decades and what happened to our brilliance in mind. Men like Hon. J.H. Mensah intrigue me. If you don’t mind I will send him a copy of this letter. I wrote a 15 page letter to him but have not been able to edit and send out. He is one man who has had a reputation of being Obenfo in our society for over 4 decades and yet he seems to have missed the right formula. It is a formula that took some of us over three to four decades studying, working with, and competing head to head with the best of the best in America. Sir, I hope you don’t think I am bragging. We are of the same age bracket and just one in our generation lucky to have been sacrificed by Ghana to study in America on scholarship. I have had the opportunity and blessing to study Engineering, technology and Business, to learn the man’s secrets! I also care deeply and have not given up on Ghana. Trust me, Ghana can match what Singapore did, under effective leadership. But you all executives must stop the self pompous charade, deceiving yourselves and the public, running around the globe with begging bowls and praising yourselves when you get a lousy $547 million! We can do better than that.
I will be in Ghana from December 5, 2007 and if want to react to my letter or call to tell me I am a fool, I am willing to listen to your side. I still want to know what you guys did with the World Bank grant of $103 million in January 2005 and the $500 million loan in January 2006. Does it take that long for money to move from America? Hope to hear form you, else you may hear from me.
Sincerely and in the service of Ghana,

Kwaku A. Danso, M.Eng., PhD (Org. & Management/Bus & Tech)
President, Ghana Leadership Union, Inc
Fremont, CA. 94539, USA. Tel. 510-494-8300
Ghana: Boundary Rd. Ext., East Legon 233-21-517-238/206


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


November 27, 2007
To: Hon. K. Baah Wiredu
Minister of Finance & Economic Planning
Office of Parliament,
Government of Ghana
Accra, Ghana
Cc: Hon. J.H. Mensah, Senior Minister, c/o Parliament House, Accra, Ghana His Excellency J.A. Kufuor, President, Office of the President, Accra, Ghana
ON THE FINANCIAL HEALTH AND FUTURE OF GHANA (An Open Letter)
Dear Hon. Baah Wiredu,
Every time I read one of your budgets and statements especially about the economy of Ghana I feel sorry for you because I know you did not create the problems and there are certain global forces you do not seem to understand. I also feel you are genuinely trying but perhaps don’t have what it takes to solve this myriad of problems involving Ghanaian culture of corruption, public thievery, selfishness and lack of faith in the public service. Not that the rest do understand either. Sir, do you really think by selling all state assets to foreigners, awarding all contracts to foreigners, opening your doors to so-called free trade, and taxing everything that can be seen at the ports of Ghana, or in Ghana some 100-300%, Ghana can survive? As much as I empathize, I know you know better than that. Having said the above, I think you are now responsible and if you want to, can solve some of the major problems of Ghana’s public corruption and mismanagement. With the power of your brains and your pen, you can order for example a solution for the following issues below.
1. Law Enforcement and Discipline – Sir, there can never be a safe and sound socio-economic development of a nation without enforcement of rules, regulations and laws. There should be fast investigation and prosecution of all involved in the recent discovery of massive losses from the Auditor General’s audits, all the way to the 2001 forensic audit report by Sterling Financial Ltd, Morrison & Associates, Baffour Awuah & Associates and James Quagraine & Company of C1.3 trillion in 11 institutions from 1992 to 2000 (GhanaHomePage, 2004, April 16). Please let us learn to separate the politics from the enforcement of laws and codes and regulations! You are perhaps the only NPP Minister not running for the Presidency. Please step up and take responsibility for the use and abuse of our moneys! If you don’t mind my saying this, one of the major differences between us and the members of our primate cousins in the animal kingdom comes from this adherence to discipline and codes of human behavior. Why does the taxpayer have to pay for police officers, law enforcement officers and prosecutors, and even Judges if they cannot do their work? Tell me, why should we pay for even the white wigs and robes for Judges if they cannot make judgments and some cases take an average of 11 years! Is that justice?
2. Integrity & Social Credit Defaulters – Anytime a culture develops that makes people borrow and don’t pay, reap where they have not sowed, and their word not being good enough, plus legal enforcement not a strong policy, we have a problem with global business transactions also. The influence of this in a multi-cultural business environment cannot be overestimated. Many studies including those of Harvard Professor James E. Austin illustrate the reasons why for example Europeans and Americans would rather prefer to invest in cultures similar to theirs. The Western push for democracy around the world is nothing more than for pure business reasons! Almost everybody in Ghana is forced by economic circumstances and a submissive culture of seems to shade the truth if not actual practice of fraud. For the Ghanaian businesspersons who borrowed money from the time of the PNDC, NDC to NPP time, the simple thing which I place under your responsibility is to investigate and have the law work if there was any financial fraud. It does not matter if you are not the Attorney General – just call for an independent investigation of anything dealing with public finance and then give the case to the AG. Example what came of the C1.3 trillion found out to have been missing or embezzled during the first few years of the NPP administration. If Osafo Maafo gave it to God, or was expecting somebody else to force the issue, please don’t follow suit! Up till now, neither the former finance Minister Osafo Maafo, nor yourself, have found it as your duty to the nation to bring charges and have the Attorney Generals office prosecute these culprits! Have you also called for an investigation of the recent audit reports? Sir, do you expect some NGO or Transparency International to come and present evidence to put these culprits in jail if need be? Sir, this cultural lack of enforcement or “gyae-ma-no-nka” principles and practices hurt and affect not only our economy but our global reputation and business image as a nation and a people. No nation on earth listens to reports like these and takes no action! Where is the President in this? Is he still traveling?
3. Medical Insurance and Sales tax Revenue – When it comes to the NHIL, Sir, there are lots of public disclosure you need to make. People are not getting what they pay for. Ghanaian elites in government have made basic medical care a major class war where the poor die daily and the rich can have access to air conditioned suites and the government officials travel overseas for service. What kind of system is that when we all pay the same 2.5% of whatever we import or consume! For a typical house constructed today of say $200,000 in East Legon, Kumasi, Abetifi or Aburi, the material cost may be 80% or more and hence the 2.5% NHIL implies the owner has paid $4,000 over the period for health insurance and $20,000 (12.5% of $160,000) for VAT taxes. Why then do you not have clean cities? Why can’t post Nkrumah-era governments see the need and responsibility for clean and health environments! Why can’t you have covered underground sewage for residential areas? Sir, why should those building houses have to pay for their own covered sewage called manholes, then water reservoirs and motors to pump water, and generators? Why?? What will it take for this simple Arithmetic to be understood? The $20,000 paid for VAT, multiplied by 40,000 homes in a subdivision of Accra (if we subdivide Accra into say 4 each with 400,000 population with 10 average per household) should be shared between local and central government and let the local government build these infrastructures of modern life! 20,000 multiplied by 40,000 homes comes to $800 million!! Sir, does this seem too difficult to do? When you travel to any Western country, why not find out how they do it!! Are we smarter than a 5th grader?
4. Proper Personal and Property ID -Talking about Banking defaults, Sir, how do you find somebody who is living at P.O.BOX 234 in Accra near the old Polo grounds or the big tree? Have you ever thought why America and the Western financial and credit systems work so beautifully when you travel? How does a society build and develop without financing? How do rich investors and Banks lend money without risk assessment and identification of people and property? Sir, this is the common sense of a 5th grader (if you don’t mind the recent American joke), and I expect you to step up and take charge! Demand the street naming and house numbering from all DCEs, MCEs, etc before their next pay check and trust me this will be done in 30 days to a maximum of 3 months!! Sir, let us use our common sense, and at least continue what the Colonialist and Nkrumah did. At least we are not that dumb not to be able to name our streets, put the signboard up on a Post, and number houses consecutively in some easy to remember order! Come oooon! Honorable! Do we need World Bank expertise and loans to do this also? Sir, do you know what foreigners think of Africans? Think about it! I don’t like to count myself among them, but honestly, if you don’t mind my asking, do you think we are that dumb?
5. Ghana Airways – Please call for a thorough independent investigation into why and how Ghana Airways was losing money when the plane was full almost every flight and other airlines were making profit. How do you expect me and others to keep paying higher port duties and taxes so officials can get away with unethical and criminal conduct? How do you bill the Ghanaian taxpayer for the “total of 260 creditor claims amounting to US$209.0 million, excluding employee claims” as reported by the Official Liquidator (MyJoyonline.com, November 16, 2007). Sir, how do you sleep well at night knowing that you are allowing criminals in the government to get away on a job that is your responsibility? Sir, you are a Lawyer and I think you should be aware that allowing billions and trillions of cedis to be lost to the State due to your fear or inability to investigate and provide such evidence of wrong doing to the AG office and State prosecutor is tantamount to criminal negligence yourself! Take charge! Ghana does not need a nice handsome person for the job you are doing. The people want a person who can take control of our financial transactions! Period!
6. Port Duties and Government Extortion – Sir, I use the word extortion because that is what is going on right now, started by Dr. Botchwey in the PNDC /NDC time and continued under the NPP till your watch now. It over 20 years!! It must stop! Why should government demand $9,000 in duties and taxes for a car that sells for say $3,000 in America? Do you ever expect our nurses, doctors and teachers to ever buy a car without having to make deals on the side and stealing also? Cars in new condition but damaged by accident and salvaged are examined and purchased for ten cents on the dollar and shipped to most poor nations today from America. Why are Ghanaians the only country denying their citizens the right to purchase cheap also? You are not an Engineer, so please don’t give me this Ghanaian excuse that they may not be safe when repaired! Do you know how many lucrative jobs in auto repair this business is creating? Sir, let’s stop this extortion at our ports. The NPP promised to stop some of the bad behavior of the P/NDC era. Did you? Do you remember there was a time in late 1960s, early 1970s to Dr. Busia’s time, when no duties or taxes were paid on cars of returning Ghanaians from abroad. Do you also know our women have to go to Togo to purchase cloth to sell in Ghana. Isn’t that a disgrace? What are you doing about it? Have you brainstormed with some of the brilliant minds of the modern Ghana, or Hon. J.H. Mensah and his age are the only ones we have to listen to?
7. Ghana’s Roads - Find out how and why Ghana roads, both highways and rural roads, are not built to quality standards and most of them are death traps and all of them seem to wash away after one or two rainy seasons! For example the East Legon road that I was complaining about in my article on Ghanaweb in summer 2004 were repaired, well,,, shall we say “surfaced”, in 2005. However, again by the summer 2006 the roads were in disrepair with lots of dangerously huge potholes. Sir, have you ever thought that you are wasting the taxpayers’ money by hiring these thieves who masquerade as contractors? Why don’t you step up to the plate and act as a responsible manager of the peoples’ money? Sir, don’t you know that people look up to you for this job? This is not the Attorney General’s job until you present evidence! And this is easy to document! Simply hire a couple of Professors at KNUST and few students and the job is done! They will gather enough evidence to bring criminal actionable evidence that our roads are being built as death traps, not to engineering specifications, and killing and maiming thousands every year!! This is enough to put people in jail and we expect you to act in this way!!
8. TRAFFIC- Sir, I am sure you perhaps think that there is no solution to the traffic problems in Accra. Honorable, think again!! Have you consulted with any real Engineers since you were hired on this job? I am not talking about Engineers who have never even driven a car and don’t even know the feel for a road! When was the last time you really sat down to ponder on possible solutions to the traffic mess in Accra and the cities? My sister told me this morning she woke up and took my mother to Korle Bu from East Legon at 5am, supposed to arrive at 7:30am and yet her budget of 2.5 hours was not enough. She was late! For God’s sake, Hon. Minister, will it be too much if I asked you: Where did you and your colleague Ministers go to school? Were you not taught that problems are solved by man? Consider a few points to ponder: - Post Offices – Do you know that every week more than an estimated 100,000 people have to travel to check their mail at the Post Offices? This short trip of say 5 miles actually costs a minimum loss in productivity of 5.2 million man hours per year and that is a lot of money the state losses in addition to the traffic delay!! Sir, with the power of your pen you can change that in 6 months! Assuming a mere 15 miles per gallon of petrol, this will save Ghana a minimum of $13.9 million per year.
- Dying in Traffic – Sir, are you aware that people actually die in traffic since they are not able to get the hospital in time? How would you like to be responsible for the deaths of many thousands who are unable to pry through 3-5 hour traffic jam in Accra and Kumasi alone, simply because you did not act!
- Distribution of shopping centers in Accra – Sir, do you not notice that traffic to major marketing centers in the cities are partly to go to work and the rest for shopping? Why is it that you travel to Europe and America and have not noticed that Shopping centers are zoned in most of the West by the government for such. Why do you allow a place like East Legon to develop and there is no areas set aside for Shopping centers? Did it ever occur to you that as Minister of Finance, you can influence the Commissioner of Lands since you write everybody’s paycheck? I am stretching a little here, but it is true that you are the most influential Minister in the Kufuor government, whether you know it or not.
9. Poverty Reduction – Perhaps one of the terms you members of the executive in Ghana and the poor nations use that makes me mad is the term “poverty reduction”. For God’s sake, ponder on this term very carefully!! What is poverty and what are the causes of poverty? Sir, do you think you can simply take a $540 million gift from the taxpayers of America, give it a fancy name like Millennium Challenge Account, distribute the money at $100-$200 each to poor people and expect to reduce poverty? Come ooooon!! Sir, most of you are well educated and about the same age as I am, if not even younger than I am. I know some of my students are running for the Presidential nomination on the NPP ticket (Clap! Clap! Clap!) but for God’s sake, think again!! Can you really reduce “ohia” by giving somebody $200 or even $1,000? Have you or anybody on your staff done a business Profit and Loss projection plan for these people to know their cost of living and how they can get out of poverty? Honorable, Ghana is 50 years old and some of us, like yourself performed very brilliantly in the Western education. So what is wrong with us? - as Honorable J.H. Mensah has started asking himself. Sir, we are not children anymore! I will refer you to a couple of chapters in my book where I make comparison of three cultures: The Euro-Caucasian (American) culture, the Asian-Confucian (Singapore) and the African (Ghanaian) cultures. (Ref.: Danso, K.A., 2007, Leadership Concepts and the Role of Government in Africa: The case of Ghana, Xlibris). Sir, please save us the embarrassment and stop using the term “poverty reduction” in Ghana. Talk about and measure the number of high paying jobs the government is creating and let us set standards of measurement of the cost and standard of living in Ghana! Sir, you may not do much shopping these days, but I do when I am in Ghana, and I can assure you that food and grocery costs far less in California than in Accra, Ghana! And the average worker in California makes more than 20 times what the average worker makes in Ghana. Sir, have you sincerely ever calculated these numbers for yourself and thought about it? Please do!
10. Globalization, Competition and Employment – Sir, I can go into pages and pages, but suffice it to say that, as described above about cost of living, the difference between the man in California and one in Ghana is not intelligence, but how that intelligence and education is used to compete globally and create high paying jobs. I am not talking about cassava and cocoa planting jobs (with all due respect to our farmers), but talking about jobs that bring high value to other members of the human race that they will pay a high price for the products. You and I of the age where we remember the image of China in the Western media. Only 25-30 or so years ago China was not respected at all in the Western media and the only serious thing you read about them was their communism. This changed slightly when they launched their first Satellite. I lived in America since 1968 so I can tell you stories you may not know. Sir, after China understood the game of globalization which goes with technology and “customer focus” (as Prof. Jick and Prof. Peiperl of the London School of Business put it), their economy started to turn around! Today China has a budget surplus with America of more than $100 Billion and over $1.3 trillion with the rest of the world!!! That is the reason they are trying to invest that money overseas in Africa. Do you and your co-executives of government have long term any strategy? Please ask the President.
11. Communications and Energy – Sir, are you aware that with modern broadband Internet communication, I can run almost all my business from my home office, negotiating financial transactions in the millions of dollars every month and having documents such as home title reports, appraisals (valuations), and hundreds of pages and pictures are delivered online? In summer 2004 I was running my business in Ghana when I was there. Of course a generator is a must now and how much generator cost can a business sustain! Last year alone my estimate is that Ghanaians spent over $500 million in the cost of generators alone, and nobody has gone to jail for the poor energy planning! Nobody has been fired either! See the culture why we are behind? In America many would have lost their jobs for the poor planning! With high speed Broadband, I can shop for material and commodity prices all around the world for a factory? I pay only $33 per month for a speed of 10 Million bytes per second in America. In my Ghana home office I paid $100 for installation and pay $60 monthly for 128,000 bytes per second and it’s not even reliable! It takes an hour to upload 8MB of pictures that takes me a second to do in my California. So how do you compete with me?
One wonders why Ghana feels we can compete globally if we sell all our valuable assets including our basic backbone infrastructure, the telecommunications company, Ghana Telecom, and Water systems, and even our valuable hotels for pennies on the dollar! Have any real estate valuations been done on these sales? Sir, do you executives in the government ever think of national security and the long term? How can you have a foreign company manage your most valuable access to health (water) and the world outside (communication backbone) and rely on imports only for energy! Do you know that without good effective communications and reliable electricity, Ghana can never ever compete globally and we will forever be destined for mediocrity and begging as we are doing? Sir, I know you and the President perhaps mean well, but from my vantage point, I think there is a level of naivete exhibited by some of you in executive positions, and I am sorry to say it and hope you forgive me. I believe I am old enough to be honest with you. We are not moving an inch until and unless we figure out how to keep pace in modern communication and basic services. The old drumming don’t go far anymore. And these service companies are very easy to finance because people in business need them and are paying for them!! See the big windfall that these foreigners made from the sale of the Cellular communications company! Over $ 2Billion for the sale of Areeba™. Do you know Ghanaians overseas pay 50% more to dial to cell phones instead of land lines? How about if you push to deploy the fiber optic lines already designed and built by VRA many years ago? I have a copy of the document and we cannot deny that we have talent right there in Ghana! Did you think of this?
12. The Role of Government - Sir, the whole secret of human and societal development lies in the role of “government” to make the society adapt to modernized global systems of transportation and communications. The role of government involves putting system in place that facilitate financial transactions in business, local and global, and allow your people’s businesses to operate, employ people and compete with the rest of the world. Period! Look, we have very rich people as in my home area of Kwahu, but they die with nothing left for posterity or to show the world. How does an individual self proprietorship as we have in Ghana, no matter how rich, compete at the global level without a government? Huh! Sir, don’t be deceived. Capitalism does not work in a vacuum without a government. We are left behind because rural Africa is left confused with our systems of post-colonial government! Central government has failed since the elite did not learn to apply technology and modern forms of management. The Chiefs have no power. My home town of Abetifi, a rich area with their surrounding rich towns in Kwahu, has no water and yet many mansions! Where is the (local) government!!!?
Sir, Americans still give subsidies to their farmers and small businesses do get government SBA guaranteed loans up to sometimes 90% or higher. Please, I have been in the industry myself for about 20 years now and know how it works. China is in a Win-Win situation. Through discipline work force, they now are creating employment for their people and have large amounts of foreign direct investment from Americans and the West. The Westerners also get to buy cheap Athletic shoes, blue jeans, toys, communication and electronics products, and even cheap imported Chinese fish these days! (There is a small price of contamination and lead poisoning, but that is part of life, growing pains). Some Americans are complaining, but if they can buy $10-$20 athletic shoes for their kids that used to cost $50-$120 when my kids were growing up, very soon the complaints die down, the big boys make their profit, and globalization takes control.
Sir, I am in your age bracket, and I believe over the years I have washed my hands well to dine with adults like Senior J.H. Mensah, to use the wise sayings of an Akan proverb. Actually three of my students from a school in Kumasi I taught in the 1960s are running for the President of Ghana. I think it is about time I spoke out. I have been monitoring and studying Ghana for over 3 decades and what happened to our brilliance in mind. Men like Hon. J.H. Mensah intrigue me. If you don’t mind I will send him a copy of this letter. I wrote a 15 page letter to him but have not been able to edit and send out. He is one man who has had a reputation of being Obenfo in our society for over 4 decades and yet he seems to have missed the right formula. It is a formula that took some of us over three to four decades studying, working with, and competing head to head with the best of the best in America. Sir, I hope you don’t think I am bragging. We are of the same age bracket and just one in our generation lucky to have been sacrificed by Ghana to study in America on scholarship. I have had the opportunity and blessing to study Engineering, technology and Business, to learn the man’s secrets! I also care deeply and have not given up on Ghana. Trust me, Ghana can match what Singapore did, under effective leadership. But you all executives must stop the self pompous charade, deceiving yourselves and the public, running around the globe with begging bowls and praising yourselves when you get a lousy $547 million! We can do better than that.
I will be in Ghana from December 5, 2007 and if want to react to my letter or call to tell me I am a fool, I am willing to listen to your side. I still want to know what you guys did with the World Bank grant of $103 million in January 2005 and the $500 million loan in January 2006. Does it take that long for money to move from America? Hope to hear form you, else you may hear from me.
Sincerely and in the service of Ghana,

Kwaku A. Danso, M.Eng., PhD (Org. & Management/Bus & Tech)
President, Ghana Leadership Union, Inc
Fremont, CA. 94539, USA. Tel. 510-494-8300
Ghana: Boundary Rd. Ext., East Legon 233-21-517-238/206


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


Columnist: Danso, Kwaku A.