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Opinions Wed, 30 Aug 2017

The role of abandoning the culture of 'winner takes all mentality'

This is a eighth part of a series of articles concerning the role of various institutions, stakeholders and actors in revitalizing the ailing Ghanaian economy. The smooth and peaceful transition of power (from the incumbent to the opposition) in a highly contested election (2016 election) is no doubt one of the Positive Achievements in my beloved country – Ghana.

However, elections, they say, are just a “MEANS but not an END”. A means to enhance the development process, a means to create jobs to reduce the ever rising youth unemployment situation in the country, a means to improve efficiency/productivity in both the public and the private sectors, a means to improve welfare (reduce poverty) in the nation.

In a frantic effort to fulfill its manifesto and campaign promises (e.g. one district-one factory, free SHS, etc.), the current administration has also embarked on a borrowing spree campaign (just like the previous administration) to solicit the required/needed capital to finance these projects.

It may seem quite noble to borrow to create jobs (wealth) and improve the situation in the country. After all, the end justifies the means (one of the main arguments they are using to justify the over blown government appointees).

However, one of the disappointing observations is the fact that, there is no continuity in the development policy direction in the country. For example, some old projects, industries (factories), and many development activities initiated by the previous administration in many sectors have been or are being abandoned:–

A sugar factory set up by the previous administration is has been or being abandoned only to set up a new pineapple factory in that same location (not because farmers have stopped producing sugar cane and are now producing pineapple)

A vigilante group affiliated with the current administration has ransacked and chase out many workers appointed by the previous administration (insisting on replacing such workers with members of the current administration)

Some infrastructure development projects/contracts awarded during the previous administration has been or being abrogated/stopped (perhaps due to genuine reason(s))

The culture of continuing (supporting or bringing to an end) inherited development projects is virtually absent in this country. It is important to note that, what is currently happening (abandoning of old projects just to start same new ones) is not a new phenomena in this country. It has always been like this anytime there is a change of government since the country returned to multiparty democracy – we call it “The Winner Take All”.

The negative economic impact (increasing financial loss to the state) of this winner takes all mentality is enormous. It scares away many potential and prospective long term investors (i.e. investment in projects which may overlap or runs more than the 4-year governing cycle) due to the fear – “any new government may terminate, abrogate or perhaps chose not honor previously signed contracts”.

A casual travel across the country reveals many scatted abandoned projects in almost every region. Ghana’s national debt is ballooning at an alarming rate as a result of this crazy appetite of borrowing to finance new projects just to be abandoned by any new government. As a country, it is high time we take a deep reflection on this damaging culture and pull the breaks.

The earlier we turn a new leaf, the better it will be for our country in terms of ensuring only profitable and sustainable development projects are signed on behalf of the nation. This will increase the credibility and integrity of the country in the eyes of potential investors and creditors (we probably will not have to waste resources travelling the globe (-wearing our wives winter jackets-) looking for investors).

As usual your comments, criticisms, questions and point(s) of correction, etc. are welcome. Please kindly comment with positive suggestion(s) on how to help develop my country-Ghana further, pushing the frontier beyond the current status-quo. Thanks.

Columnist: Dr. Amos Mensah