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Taming the wild beast, the Chinese dragon

Wed, 3 Oct 2018 Source: Charles K. Amoo Asante

We have now become familiar with harrowing and horrifying stories of Chinese ingenuity and the business strategy of taking over the assets and operations of companies in countries starved for cash for growth and development. There is nothing to fear of the takeover strategy of the Chinese since there are alternative and competing strategies available to deal with such neo-colonialistic advancement.

This article purports to advance the argument that a country can introduce legislation to ensure that they do not become subservient to Chinese or any foreign domination as a result of humongous, odious debts deliberately engineered to strangle their economies and hence their ultimate survival.

There is an urgent need for the reawakening of the consciousness of the people of Africa, and Ghana in particular; to gain full control of their resources and take to the control of any dominion within or without. Therefore, it is imperative that Ghanaians take every step to transition from the position of mere possession of natural mineral ores and property to full control and ownership of the natural resources.

This is because in recent times it has become increasingly obvious that there is a distinction between ownership and possession. The people of Ghana possess the natural resources such as gold, diamond, manganese, bauxite, oil and gas, etc. However, they do not necessarily own these natural resources. Current conventional wisdom and intellectual reasoning support the assertion and historical fact that mere possession of such natural resources can only lead us to become custodians and public storage officers of the storage facilities in which the resources reside. Therefore, the only payment that the owners are willing to pay for the custody and gatekeeping that we Ghanaians currently offer for the natural resources is the equivalent of global storage fee rates, a mere pittance. This rationale means that the ownership of the natural resources passes to people who possess the intellectual brilliance, sophisticated thinking and business acumen to concoct strategic machinery to enable them own natural resources outside their homelands and habitats and thereby pay paltry sums as custodial fees to inhabitants of those who live on the lands of the natural resources. This is the new paradigm of intellectual reasoning behind natural resource ownership and possession.

Having successfully distinguished between ownership and possession, it is very critical for Ghanaians to devise creative and innovative tools and techniques to ensure they can translate their possessive position to full and complete ownership. In doing this, one will like to shine a light on the concept of prenuptial agreements in normal marriages and poison pills in takeover situations in the corporate world. A “poison pill” is a tactic utilized by companies to prevent or discourage hostile takeovers. A company targeted for a takeover uses a poison pill strategy to make shares of the company's stock unfavorable to the acquiring firm.

From the immediate sentences above, one can deduce that Ghanaians can introduce “Poison Pill” legislation in a similar vein to prevent any takeovers of its natural resources, strategic and critical parts of its economy, and ultimately the commanding heights of its economy. Included in the Poison Pills will be issues of draconian, punitive punishment for bribery and corruption, strong indigenization requirements, fiscal, punitive measures to the hostile company from a hostile country such as China, India, South Korea, Russia, etc., strong regulatory oversight funded by the responsible companies, state-of-the-art technological requirements for operations and production, employment conditions skewed favorably towards Ghanaians as well as environmental protection of the highest standards.

It has always been contentious when prenuptial agreements are introduced in marriages. The bride or groom always argues that the partner will not introduce the prenuptial agreement if he/she loved the prospective spouse. Conversely, the opposing partner always argues that if he/she loves him/ her the prospective spouse will sign the document since there was nothing to fear because love was the basis of the relationship. In the same vein, there are those who will argue that a country like China will not give Ghana loans or provide any funding if poison pill legislation is introduced since it will not be beneficial to them if they attempt a takeover of our natural resources. The counterargument here is that, China should be willing to sign this document since their intention is not to take over Ghana’s natural resources but to help Ghana succeed. Therefore, the poison pill legislation is a mutually beneficial tool/ technique since it will ensure that China lives up to its stated objective of assisting African countries and Ghana in particular, to obtain growth and development from the loans and agreements. It also helps to protect the interest of African countries and Ghana in particular in its quest to obtain huge loans and projects from China and other countries.

The poison pill, therefore, ensures that Ghana doesn’t end up in unnecessary, odious debt which mortgages the future of Ghana, its children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren to servitude under the neo-colonialist regime. Poison pill legislation could be a win-win for all. It will also help China to rid itself of its neocolonialist public image. Additionally, It will elevate the economic relationship, between China and Africa (and Ghana in particular) to a clean, transparent and mutually beneficial arrangement.

Columnist: Charles K. Amoo Asante