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The task before opposition presidential candidates & President Mahama

Wed, 17 Feb 2016 Source: Kwarteng, Francis

OTHER MATTERS: THE ELECTORATE & THEIR PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES

The Ghanaian electorate should take advantage of prospective and retrospective voting in their assessments of the deficits and pluses of incumbency and opposition presidential candidates in the lead up to the 2016 general elections. Competence voting is what we are rooting for. And we expect the electorate to use the Ibrahim Index of African Governance to assess their presidential candidates and their potential for transformative politics as the 2016 general elections draw nigh.

In the meantime, we believe the following policy suggestions can help alleviate some of the unnecessary policy pressure on the Ghanaian economy and thus we will like the electorate to pay close attention to them:

GHANA’S OIL INDUSTRY, PRODUCTION PLANNING AGREEMENT (PSA), MINING SECTOR

Choice of Production Sharing Agreement (PSA) over Ghana Hybrid System (GHS) for the oil/gas industry. Ghana is losing a lot of money due to the latter (GHS). Readers may also want to read Mr. Solomon Kwawulume’s book “Ghana’s Oil and Gas: Towards Maximum Benefits” as well as Mr. Kirsten Bindemann’s 94-page paper, “Production-Sharing Agreements: An Economic Analysis.” Prof Lungu’s Ghanaweb-based articles on the PSA are equally informative and insightful.

It is important that we go beyond this while seriously strategizing for the incorporation of indigenous refining of our sweet crude oil on a commercial scale for local and the international market as part of our development projections and industrialization. With the discovery of oil (and gas) in commercial quantities, it behooves our technocrats and the political class to consider retrofitting and expanding the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) plant to enhance its processing capacity and industrial base.

But before this, it is important that we address the financial crisis facing TOR. This may already be in the pipeline. The Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) must play its part by, first, dealing with the problem of corruption within its management, and second, by taming partisan politicization of some of its major executive decisions. Both do not inure to the political economy of development strategies.

Finally, it would have been better if Ghana could re-negotiate the terms that virtually gave away its mining industry for a pittance.

THE PRIVATE SECTOR

Strengthening the private sector. Government cannot continue to spend a chunk of national revenue on the salaries of public sector workers. We need to cleanse public payrolls of ghost employees. Government and managers of the private sector should then collaborate to make the environment conducive to private enterprise, entrepreneurial creativity, and job creation. Job creation in the private sector can help ease up on bureaucratic squandering of resources on public sector employees.

This is because the private sector and government are not enemies but part of an endless continuum of collective nationalism. The latter should be distinguished from corporate statism, business nationalism, and corporate nationalism. Maybe we need to bring all progressive ideas together in an alphabet soup for technocratic and industrial development. We submit that Nkrumahism should be the linchpin of our psychological, cultural, technocratic, and industrial development. We need a progressive fiscal policy as well. Fortunately, Nkrumahism provides that as well.

ENERGY DIVERSIFICATION

The private sector and government should collaborate in pursuit of energy diversification. Solar energy is the number one on the agenda. Wind, coal, and nuclear are the other ones. Perhaps the energy sector needs some tactical injections of private managerial and entrepreneurial oversight in public bureaucracy. Our leaders should balance corporate indigenization with free-market capitalism.

But the Electricity Corporation of Ghana (ECG) should not be sold as we have seen done to several state assets. Certain state assets have strategic national security implications for a country’s sovereignty and economic independence. The state should deal with the theft of electricity. The Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) and its employees must be on their guard.

And as well, government agencies should honor their financial obligations to the ECG and its other affiliated outfits. Power outage (dumsor) is a threat to national development in that it is killing the private sector and the nation. Thus our call for strategic investment in energy diversification. It is imperative we consider the question of social and environment impact assessment in coal and nuclear investments.

TAX POLICIES

State agencies should make sure that foreign and local concerns meet their corporate tax obligations. We need progressive tax policies to attract foreign investment and stringent tax-collecting laws to minimize or eliminate tax evasion. It is important we do not ignore policy and statutory investments in effective internal revenue-generating capacity. We have in mind corruption at the ports and harbors.

The President and hundreds of public office holders should set example for others to follow suit by, among other measures, removing the tax-exempt status they all enjoy for not doing much for Ghanaians and for national development. One might think that these mouth-watering gratuities and other financial benefits these public office holders enjoy will stem the tide of political corruption. But no!

Let us therefore make asset and liability declaration of public office holders more accessible to the public. Access to public information of this kind is what citizens need to fight political corruption. Thus, citizens cannot allow the government to benefit exclusively from information asymmetry while they are strategically starved of crucial information that has a great potential to overturn political corruption in many a situation. Having said that, to attract foreign and local investment also means having certain concomitant policy ingredients in place. Some of these are:

Effective national security objectives, public/infrastructural capital, strong institutions (executive, judiciary, and legislature), strong and responsible media, social and human capital, political stability, low crime rates, supply chain management, strong banking system and bank regulation, functioning social services, educated public, and so forth.

THE COCOA INDUSTRY

Cocoa smuggling constitutes a major drain on the national coffers. This may be due to government’s mismanagement of the sector and porosity of the borders. There is no need smuggling cocoa across the border if local conditions are conducive and attractive. Government needs to put radical measures in place to enable us catch up with Ivory Coast.

It could be that immigration and security officials charged with border security are themselves in on cocoa smuggling. We may as well have to acquire drones to monitor the borders. We should closely work with our neighbors to eliminate any threat of economic terrorism.

AGRICULTURE

See our article “As Ghanaians Go To The Polls 5.” Ghanaweb. Jan. 18, 2016.

SPORTS

See our article “As Ghanaians Go To The Polls 4.” Ghanaweb. Jan 15, 2016. Readers should pay attention to sports journalism in the country. We never touched on this in our essay.

THE MUSIC AND MOVIE INDUSTRY

See our article “As Ghanaians Go To The Polls 3.” Ghanaweb. Jan. 13, 2016. We want our readers to take a look at the Ghana Music Rights Organization (GHAMRO) and what it is doing to ensure musicians benefit from their creative productions via royalties. We did not mention this in our afore-cited essay. Copyright violations and piracy are killing the music and movie industry. We also did not discuss the Music Council of Ghana (MCG)

EXPORT-ORIENTED INDUSTRIALIZATION

Developing an export-oriented industrialization economy is long overdue. That means adding value to raw materials, for value-adding can contribute to the expansion of the productive capacity of our evolving industrial economy. In part, quality control and quality assurance standards are required to make this policy suggestion somewhat of a success. Neither did we mention or discus the Audiovisual Rights Society of Ghana (ARSOG). Readers should take note of this omission also.

It also means we have to develop and expand the political economy of domestic consumption as well as of the purchasing power of citizens. All things being equal, we should find a way to produce imported goods and services locally, particularly those we have comparative advantage in, and to discourage consumerism on goods and services that do not add value to the Ghanaian economy and public health.

Let us make R & D integral to research on product development and industrial engineering as a whole.

EDUCATION

This is another area for the private sector and government to collaborate on. It calls for STEMIC (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, Innovation, and Communication) education.

We should also commit to the development of Youth Studies, technology entrepreneurship, and Future Studies (futurology). Analytics and operations research (management sciences) are equally important. No industrial economy can do without.

We should not neglect andragogy (adult education, both formal and non-formal), critical pedagogy and Afrocentric methodology. We also need to bridge the gap between the youth and the adult population as well as between males and females.

Finally, the leadership of the country should deal with the problem of unaccredited higher institutions churning our graduates with unemployable skills. Examination malpractice is a perennial problem that if not taken care of will permanently destroy the credibility of Ghanaian education in the international community. It is a serious problem in Ghanaian universities and polytechnic and secondary schools. The West African Examinations Council (WAEC) is also gradually losing its international credibility. Perhaps we should consider the implications of educational malpractice for policy reforms in the educational sector. The private sector and government should collaborate on this.

PUBLIC PROCUREMENT ACT & JUDGEMENT DEBTS

The Public Procurement Authority (PPA) and parliament have to take another close look at the Public Procurement Act (James Dabaga), sole sourcing, arbitration awards, and judgment debts (see below for White Paper on Judgment Debts published on the website of the Ministry Of Communications (MOC)). A number of the gargantuan political corruption scandals rocking the country (and illegal judgment debts disbursements) has resulted from shady procurement deals between the private sector and government. Some of these illegal judgments have not been retrieved as of yet.

THE GITMO CONTROVERSY

See all the three parts of “The Gitmo Controversy: The Opposition & President Mahama,” all published on Ghanaweb.

THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION BILL (FOIB)

Readers should refer to Prof Lungu’s Ghanaweb-based articles on FOIB for more information. Readers may also want to visit his website (http://www.ghanahero.com/Visions.html.) for additional information.

NATIONAL SECURITY

National security is tied to every single issue we have raised in this article. Political corruption; mass poverty and illiteracy; social-political polarization due to excessive partisanism; irresponsible journalism (television, radio, and newspaper); mass unemployment; gross misuse and misapplication of freedom of speech, of the press, and of conscience; ethnocentrism; galamsey and pollution; armed robbery; rising disease burden and poor public health; religious tensions; political lies; gradual encroachment of religion upon Ghanaian politics; judicial and parliamentary corruption; and so on are potential threats to national security. Among other things, we may have to think about our national security priorities in terms of international terrorism.

It is also not a question that the global reach of Al-Shabab, Al-Qaeda, ISIS, and Boko Haram is not too far from West Africa, and particularly our own Ghana. It is in this regard that we have to retool and retrofit laboratories for the National Bureau of Investigations (BNI) and the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) and as well make them less dependent on partisan politics. Citizens and public office holders both need protection state authorities. Therefore, in this regard members of parliament, the president, and members of the judiciary should not be given privileged protection while the larger public is totally neglected or ignored.

FINAL THOUGHTS

In the end we believe that passage of the Freedom of Information Bill (FOIB) (and a morally educated public) may go a long way to address some of the major issues we have with corruption. The Ghanaian electorate must make issues-based voting (competence voting versus retrospective/introspective voting) part of its collective psychology and cyclic elective franchise rather than voting purely on ethnic, regional, and physical attributes of presidential candidates. As expected, the psychology of presidential (and parliamentarian) electability should be based on an educated electorate that is well in tune with issues-based politics.

THE GHANAIAN ELECTORATE AND BOB MARLEY

Ghanaians have for too long been taken for granted. Let the electorate listen to Bob Marley’s 1) Redemption Song, 2) Crazy Baldhead, 3) Revolution, 4) The Belly Full (But We Are Hungry), 5) Burnin’ & Lootin’, 5) Get Up, Stand Up, 6) Small Axe, 7) Real Situation, 8) Africa Unite, 9) Slave Driver, and 10) One Love.

REFERENCES

1) James Dabaga. “Weaknesses Of The Procurement Act Of Ghana, Act 663 (2003).” Aug. 29, 2014. LinkedIn.

2) Website of the Ministry of Communications (MOC). “White Paper On The Report Of The Commission Of Inquiry Into Payments From Public Funds Arising From Judgment Debts And Akin Matters (C.I. 79/2012).”

3) Ghanaweb. “GHAMRO Implements Policies To Support Aged Musicians.” Sourced from Hitz FM. Jan. 14, 2016.

We shall return…

Columnist: Kwarteng, Francis