Opinions Thu, 7 Nov 2013

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Prosecute all those involved in the GYEEDA scandal

By Kofi Thompson

Listening to the former head of the Ghana Youth Employment and Entrepreneurial Development Agency (GYEEDA), the Hon. Abuga Pele, voicing his concern during an interview broadcast on Peace FM, that he feared being made a sacrificial lamb to enable others escape punishment for stealing public funds allocated to GYEEDA, must have made many a patriotic Ghanaian feel pretty incensed.

?The tragedy for our nation, is that a scheme thought up by those who saw it as an opportunity to use public money to train and provide marginalised individuals in society, with basic equipment and start-up funds to enable them become self-employed, was hijacked by greedy and selfish individuals to enrich themselves, at the expense of Ghanaian taxpayers.

?The question is: why should the Hon. Abuga Pele, who did what he could to expose the rot at GYEEDA when he headed it - and a few middle-level officials - be made to carry the can for the selfish fat-cats, who used clever schemes to siphon off public funds allocated to GYEEDA?

?Over the years since the overthrow of President Nkrumah in 1966, our educated urban elites have had access to various government funds set up by successive regimes, to empower the private sector. ? ?Even the state pension fund, the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT), has been used as a bank of last resort to fund sundry projects for the well-connected on occasion.

Pro-poor schemes ?such as GYEEDA, if structured properly and guided by an ethos of transparency (as well as given legal backing), can create self-employment opportunities for the marginalised in Ghanaian society.

Such schemes fill a vital need in a society in which there are such huge disparities in wealth.

It is for that reason above all, that ?all those who conspired to steal public funds allocated to GYEEDA, must pay for their crimes against the ordinary people of Ghana - no matter how powerful and well-connected they might be.

The phenomenon of powerful and wealthy crony-capitalists with greedy ambitions, ripping-off the enterprise Ghana in public private partnership deal after deal, must be brought to an end quickly.

Indeed, the shady PPP business deals cooked up by some of today's crop of crony-capitalists in Ghana - a nation that uses up as much as 70 percent of total tax revenues to pay public-sector employees - have the potential to destroy the national economy.

That is why President Mahama's administration ought to ensure that all those involved in siphoning off millions of cedis of taxpayers' money in the GYEEDA scandal, including the wealthy and powerful businesspeople whose businesses benefited from the rot at GYEEDA, are made to pay for their crimes against ordinary people and the enterprise Ghana, by being prosecuted. A word to the wise...

Columnist: Kofi Thompson

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