Opinions Mon, 17 Sep 2007

The real price of corruption and mismanagement in Ghana;

Corruption and mismanagement in Ghana is our biggest problems. These two issues which if not attacked from the grounds up will forever keep majority Ghanaians poor. One will think the press will be focused on mismanagement and corruption in both private and government sector but we don’t see that happening. Are Ghanaians becoming immune to being cheated by their own elected officials?

A populace that is not reading and acting on the necessary things which will change their fate will forever be cheated by dishonest leaders and remain poor. A nation like Ghana which hardly delves in research must heavily rely on honest leaders to keep improving until we see the need to rely on research. Mismanagement and corruption have become our bane. The core of our mismanagement problem is due to adhoc spending by our government. It seems our government spends at the craving of our leaders and not for the needs of the populace.

Ghana is a poor nation and so we will be better off looking strictly at the basic necessities of what a bulk of our people need. The nation is aware she is poor but has the nation realized what it takes to eradicate poverty? To me the answer lies in the individual. How many individuals will fare better if their mental state were to improve a tenfold by way of improving their thought processes through education? I am not talking about formal education but real education within the context of our nation’s path to development. Ghana must come to terms with the fact that most of her people are not even educated enough to understand what the government of the day is doing. Nobody questions the rationale for anything the government does. In fact for our nation to become wealthy we need not invent an airplane or a state of the art vehicle but by merely putting in place programs which align with the activities of the bulk of our populace in Ghana.

What are majority of Ghanaians doing today? Are we creating programs which involve their activities today? If you take a village whose growth potential is based on her human resources potential, then it is easy to say that this village’s growth can be maximized through an activity which focuses on their skill sets and activities. For example if majority of the people skills set is mostly farming and you rather choose to place programs that don’t help farming what is the net outcome? To mobilize such an environment, you need to create a program which revolves what the people typically spend their energies in and enhance it with a structured program. In a typical farming village, we need a program that will educate some of them about agriculture so they can make a living helping others with their expertise. We need to have others in the village solely bring to bear the problems which affect all in such a village so government can address them. We need to address the transportation needs of such a village since without it their farming efforts become fruitless. Without a program aligned to their way of life, we create poverty instead of wealth.

The opportunity cost of adhoc decisions is costly for a poor nation like Ghana. Ghana cannot afford to have a president and his cabinet ministers make an adhoc decision like building a presidential palace which benefits no one. Ghana will be better off using such resources to revamp our education system by providing good public libraries with books, computers and things worth spending money on for a nation which needs her collective mindset upraised. Even creating parks in neighborhoods is far more effective use of resources than merely putting up mansions to create impressions for foreigners because our society’s health is much more important than feel good handshakes with foreign dignitaries.

The cost of mismanagement and adhoc decisions are too costly for our dear nation. Take a look at the way our government has handled the energy problem. The whole energy problem started in the NDC era. In fact the outgoing NDC government handed its white paper on what NPP ought to do to prevent another energy crisis. Instead of looking at the energy problem as a national issue, the government decided to treat the energy problem with a partisan approach and shelved the advice given them by the outgoing NDC government. This approach unfortunately seems to be the paradigm for all the national issues with our current government. The energy issue cascaded when VRA was hit by bad decisions by this same government. The government decided to remove VRA personnel who have been trained specifically for energy management only to replace them with political men pretending to be energy experts. In the end what happened to the energy sector? Can any one justify all the losses from the countless hours when Ghanaians had no energy to run their businesses, do their daily needs and live like normal modern people?

This particular blunder by our government has affected all including even school children who were deprived to read or finish their homework due to darkness. A poor nation cannot easily improve when its population is subjected to such realities. Businesses are under financial stress because of the mismanagement of energy by our government. To make matters worse, our government has approached the energy problem with some ’fa ma nyame’ approach. The government waited for the rains before certain journalists started falsely announcing that the energy has been solved. Can we just leave a national energy crisis to the fate of the rains? The approach to quickly import adhoc energy machines at very high prices to save face is not the way to solve an energy crisis. This is rather an opportunity for government to invite all energy experts to plan for a long term solution instead of the adhoc solution we all witnessed.

The real issue Ghanaians should be discussing is not whether Akosombo has water or the energy crisis seems to have solved itself but at what cost is the energy crisis being solved? Can the government truly say they have solved the energy crisis when in fact the cost of energy per Kilowatt being produced is much higher than the cost by the plants built earlier (i.e. 11 cents/KW vs. 26 cents/KW)? One would think energy per kilowatt produced by a newer plant will cost less but it rather cost much more. We could have avoided this if the government heeded to good advice at an opportune time. Government could have quickly improved the energy plant at Tema and prevented the current energy crisis.

In essence this blunder or mismanagement by our government has allowed another energy crisis to force a legacy of high energy bills upon the average Ghanaian. Ghanaians will pay a higher energy cost from now into the future because of bad energy decisions taken by our government. The new expensive energy plants are not going anywhere and Ghanaians will have to get used to paying high prices for energy. If even another government decides to improve the situation with better alternatives, the bad energy solutions mean our limited resources have gone to waste. The truth is this affects all in Ghana. One can easily try to deflate this argument by alluding to Bui Dam. My question is why another hydro electric project when we cannot get enough water to produce enough hydro-energy at Akosombo? Are there not other alternatives like Solar and wind energy to help complement Akosombo for us? This bad decision in energy has affected all in Ghana.

It is time the average Ghanaian asks why the price of commodities has quadrupled in the last seven years and their wages are yet to double? Can a nation under such purchasing power stress levels even boast the way the current government is throwing statistics around? Can Ghanaians say Ghana is developing under the current circumstances? Ever wonder why the current government cannot show much for all the remittances, HIPC funds, money gained from loans cancelled by our development partners and Millennium Challenge Account, increased cocoa prices and gold prices but merely throwing cooked statistics at us? What happened to all that money? This is all due to waste caused by mismanagement and corruption.

Another example of mismanagement is the decision for government merely passing the buck instead of managing oil price shocks on our fragile economy. Ghana does not produce oil so it makes sense to have a program to deal with the impact of oil prices in the world market. Merely passing the buck to Ghanaians to absorb is not prudent since this tends to have an upward effect on all prices in Ghana regardless of whether a commodity is affected or not affected by the price of oil. A responsible government should figure a way to tone down its imposed taxes on oil in Ghana to help keep prices stable. The current government’s approach cannot leave a fragile economy like Ghana’s to brave the storms of world economic markets with very stable economies. All things being equal, the average worker in Ghana does not earn close to his/her counterpart abroad, so it is rather shocking to see Ghanaians paying prices higher than their counterparts abroad. It’s this lack of empathy by our current government that has caused prices to soar in Ghana.

Take a look at the cost of cement in our dear nation. Can you believe cement has been around since independence but the price of cement never shot above thirty thousand (old cedis)? Just in less than seven years cement is now more than ninety thousand cedis. What went wrong? We recently read bribery scandals that are revealing why we have monopolies on cement in Ghana. It’s sad but our government men don’t seem to care for the average Ghanaian.

If we don’t get up and demand accountability and question the mismanagement of our government, Ghana will become very stressed to the level where armed robbery jobs will be advertised in the news papers. Today, Ghana has been stretched to the point where cocaine dealers are the heroes. Journalists will rather write to justify why arrested cocaine dealers like NPP MP Amoateng are the ‘King Solomon’ of their villages instead of looking at the dangers drugs pose for any society.

The country needs to face up honestly to the price of corruption and mismanagement and act accordingly. Ghanaians need to demand why ministers can merely use all funds meant for regional projects for their personal gain without any ramification. Ghanaians need to ask why relatives of our leaders are currently the people to go to win a government contract. If Ghanaians don’t wise up they will end up as indentured servants to a few corrupt people and their foreign lords.

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

Columnist: Webb, Kofi