Budget 2013 and matters arising

Feature Article of Monday, 1 April 2013

Columnist: Tamakloe, Kojo

Kojo Tamakloe

This years budget has been read . It spells out the intentions of the NDC government for the coming year . What cannot be denied is the unacceptable level of deficit . This is a shortfall between receipts and expenditures .The expenditures are higher than the receipts . Government has given reasons for the shortfall mainly being the migration to the Single Spine Salary structure .This was a bold move politically , but financially suicidal right from the start . I say politically expedient because once out going President Kufour had signed it , it became binding on the in coming government to honor it , else it will incur the wrath of the voters Whether good or bad depends on impacts it will have. I hope to come back to this later . The others are the infrastructural projects , higher interest rate payments due to borrowing . One must also be honest and include the corruption in the system and the inefficiencies . Are all collections accounted for and are all expenses accounted for ? We must also look at certain expenditures and ask if they are necessary and set out priorities as to what is urgent and immediate and what can be postponed to a later year .The question is how do we close the gap between receipts and expenditures which was GC8.6 billion .

The State gets income through taxation and dividend s from its investments I am referring to State enterprises like TOR, GCB, Aveyime rice, textile factories. But are they making money or do they remain a drain on the taxpayer and the fiscus? . Are they needed or what do we do to turn them around .? Are we still caught up in the dilemma , the State should not invest as that is socialism and then other hand shout the “ State must do this or that? “. So what are the options ?

We simply have to go back to basics , grow our GDP : Gross Domestic Product being the total market value of all final goods and services produced in a country in a given year. It will be important to critically identify the root causes of our deficits and we do not need the Bretton Woods to dictate to us .Not that we are arrogant but some things are common sense . So the more we produce the higher will be the GDP and the more taxes will be collected and so narrow the deficit. So what do we produce and which will yield maximum results?

It is therefore important that the President’s team shelve some projects in the first two years so that they can consolidate and stabilize the present situation . Plans need to be formulated that will be short term , medium term and the long term

We should in the short term target food production . This should be obvious as that is one of the drains on the economy but should be one goal that is easily achievable . Kutu Acheampong in 2 years turned Ghana into an exporter of maize . I am sure it can be done again and in this case we set regional targets . I quote:’ the rumpus was the indisputable fact that Ghana continues to be a net food importer, with estimates that Ghanaian agriculture may be operating at just 20% of its potential in staple foods production to feed 24 million people’. Suppose we double this or make it 50% . Will it help reduce the deficit and create a surplus , there by growing the GDP? What a pathetic commentary on our attitude towards locally produced items “Unfortunately Ghanaian rice hardly sells since the quality of the imported rice is considered so much better although it costs more. “ Furthermore, Ghanaian rice is only available for six months of the year. The poor quality of Ghanaian rice is no secret. The lack of government subsidy means that farmers cannot afford to invest in machinery such as combine-harvesters. Ironically by 1966 we were already producing good quality long grain rice . A brand was that of “ Aunty Joyce Rice” I am sure the President would be familiar with it as it came from his fathers farms In addition to this will be fish culture and poultry production. It takes ten weeks for day old chicks to mature for the market . Making of chicken feed does not need rocket science and even corn millers used to know this . Ghanaians need sufficient protein in their diet, if not to promote our physical structure , brain power but also healthy living. We need to emphasise the production also of greens and fruits . Is it not a shame to be importing canned foods and fruits when we could be doing this locally .In the medium to long term this should turn Ghana into a net exporter especially since this is now known to be a trillion dollar market . We need to change our attitude to other made in Ghana goods. Then we shout there is unemployment . These to me cut across party , tribal, or religious lines. Must you wait until your party comes to power to produce and feed yourself and family?
Under the short term MUST do list would be electricity and the water crisis solution . The NDC has curbed drugs smuggling and violent crime , like armed robbery . It is within their power to solve the water and electricity crisis , both in the short , medium and long term . Thankfully the Bui dam is coming on stream . Gas is being used to generate electricity and this should be pursued with speed. Then we have garbage which goes to waste and clogs up our water ways and resources. Why do we not turn the waste into useful energy? We are in the tropics , which means most of the year we have sunshine , so solar energy can become an option and at the coast with the winds, wind powered electricity . Let us remember we cannot industrialize without power and water

In this also should be the new beginnings of Town Planning . The cities and urban townships should have planned layouts, residential, with sewage and access roads , future police stations, market or shopping centres, schools and recreation centres , gutters and garbage collection centres. It costs more to rebuild the disorganised units we call townships . Cleaning up of the existing cities and urban dwellings should start in earnest . Health costs are real costs and the disease prevention should be a priority

Medium term Again agriculture the back bone of the economy should be in the fore front and their conversion into preserved foods . Hopefully with a constant education of “ Buy Ghana” , and “ Ghana Goods are Better” , both in song and in adverts and talks in our schools , the locally produced goods will be patronized leading to profitability. AGOA, the project started by Ex President G Bush to encourage manufacturing should also be pursued. This is the time for Nkrumaists to preach the pragmatic approach of Nkrumah,s policies . The State enterprises did not fail. They were made to fail to discredit Nkrumah. The medium term after two years should be the manufacturing , building on what we have achieved. Nkrumah is no longer on the political arena so the opponents do not need to have fears. What China is practicing now is what Nkrumah espoused many years ago. We cannot practice capitalism without enterprise nor capital. The rule of the PP and NPP should have opened our eyes . Capitalism never took of . This is a theory the party propagates. How many times have we not read “ government must do this, government must do that” . So where is the private initiative?
Education should be more relevant to our needs . Agriculture , vocational training and technical training and ICT should be encouraged. ICT because we lose too much to corruption .Computerization should be a priority . Incomes should be fully accounted for and by computerizing our systems we make it more difficult for the dishonest people to cheat . This should also include environmental awareness. Forestation and the damage to our environment like “ galamsey” . Cyanide, my chemistry teacher says is poisonous and its discharge should be controlled . It kills the fauna and flora
To end , I want to make a personal appeal to Professors Akoampa and the others Akadu , Sarpong, Katakyie Agyemang , Adofo Rockson
Okoampa in the past 4 years must have written at least 1400 articles. None is constructive but divisive Those of us who have opposite or different views do not do so because of “ hatred” , tribalism” or envy . As an educated person and coming from Kyebi , which articles have you written to improve the lot of the Akyem Abuakwa people? You want to be in power so how will you IMPROVE the life of the people you want to rule over ? I believe the same goes for the others. You benefitted from the State in your education and the least you can do is to write plans or confer with the authorities in your areas as to what to do for them also. Living in the USA can you not see the changing scenarios and as an educated person adapt? I read a book the other day , titled “ Who moved my cheese” . it is all about adaptation. It reminded me of my biology teacher , when she taught, evolution. “ Adapt or die “ she used to repeat . Remember about 52% of Ghanaians live on a $1-2 per day.

Akadu as an oral historian should emulate the late Chinua Achebe who wrote about the Ibo culture and in the process gained world wide acclaim . Bring out the rich and beautiful Denkyira culture and history from which you came. I am not sure your fixation with Ex Pres Rawlings who is in retirement and Prof Kofi Awoonor will lead you into the leadership position you so much aspire to . I think Attah Sekyi and Kwesi Mintah and their duel on Ghanweb makes for more enlightenment .Come out with how we can sort out water, sanitation , power and home ownership for beautiful Denkyira.

Adofo Rockson . You say you are surrounded by “ superior Whites” . So they have over come racism to deal with a “ Blackey” . Why can you not do the same ? Kwawus are known for entrepreneuralship. Please do not let them down . If you cannot copy your ancestors , then emulate the “ superior whites’

Sarpong , is a Texan ‘ Cowboy” . Texans I am told think Big and do big things. It was shown in the series “ Dallas” and the Cow boy series “ High Chapperal” . Why do you belittle our brothers from the Savannah , our Prairies, calling them “cow herds”? . What are the roots of the Bushs?
Katakyie Agyemang I watched in horror the story about two persons who were broke and hoped to make money from Jungle Gold. That is Ghana . Our natural resources ,the solution to the financial dilemma of other people in search for a better life. What do ? Stoke the fires of war and division. As we fight, our environment is being devasted and the wealth you boast about carried away . Your children will then end up slaves and servants in their homes , as your river which should nurture , now sickens or kill, the fertile soil is now infertile, and the bowl of the earth pregnant with ores is now barren . Do you only care I speak a different language?

The Writer Kojo Tamakloe is an Nkrumaist who believes African Unity is the solution to Africas under development