Feature Article of Friday, 19 April 2013
Columnist: Appeadu, Charles E.
Ghana is crying out to be rescued. We, as a nation, have reached the end of the rope, and we are crying out to someone – we probably don’t know who – to come and rescue us. When the President says that we are spending 60 or 70 percent of our revenues to pay civil servants, he is definitely crying out for help. But help from whom? No outsider will come in to rescue us. We need to rescue ourselves from vampires who are wearing the clothes of leaders. I think our leaders have done us great evil, and here I do not distinguish between NDC and NPP. Let’s stop politicizing such important national issues. These thieves who masquerade as leaders are thriving on our inaction and tolerance of their mismanagement and corrupt practices. If we are to come out of the present predicament unscathed, we need to start doing some things right. Here is what I mean.
What our parliamentarians and the executive branch of our government are doing to the nation is alarming! Folks, they are plundering the land! I cannot believe that this is happening in Ghana. And we are sitting down for the leaders to STEAL the nation’s meager resources! How wicked can Ghana’s leaders be? And we blame the white man for our woes? Let’s go through the numbers together and you will see that God is absolutely angry at our leaders. His judgment should not be far off. The official figure from the minister of finance, Seth Terkper, of Ghana’s gross domestic product (GDP) is GHC 73 billion. With a population of about 25 million, Ghana’s per capita GDP stands at GHC 2,920 per year or GHC 243 per month. An MP is paid GHC 7,600 per month, gets GHC 50,000 per year housing allowance (GHC 4,167 per month) and GHC 211,000 every four years as ex-gratia (GHC 4,396 per month) for a total of GHC 16,163 per month! There may be other benefits I haven’t considered (like allowance for sitting on parliamentary committees) but let’s just focus on only these. Each MP is receiving a monthly income which is the equivalent of the income of 66 Ghanaians! Folks, this is absolutely alarming! Just so we get a clearer picture of how bad this is, let’s juxtapose this with what is happening in an advanced economy like the United States of America. The US per capita income is about $50,000 per year. A US Congressman’s salary is $174,000 per year. Thus, a US Congressman’s income is the equivalent of the income of about 3 or 4 Americans. If we compare apples with apples, the Ghanaian MP’s income is about 19 times that of his American counterpart!
This is clearly unsustainable and I call on the MPs themselves to cry out against this theft. They should all look within themselves and protest this injustice. I call on the President to use his executive powers to seek changes to his own salary and those of his ministers and members of parliament. We should bring those salaries down to be consistent with the economy of Ghana.
In any case, there are too many MPs in Ghana. We need to reduce the number of MPs in the country drastically. Currently, Ghana has 275 Members of Parliament. The population of Ghana is about 25 million and the land area is 92,100 square miles. The United States has a population of 315 million and a land area of 3.79 million square miles. Let’s remove Alaska and Hawaii and just use the contiguous 48 States. The land area of the contiguous 48 States is 3,043,615 square miles. Thus by population, the US is 12.5 times Ghana and by land area, it is 33 times the size of Ghana. By the size of the Economy, the USA is 421 times that of Ghana ($16 trillion versus $38 billion). The US has 435 Congressmen and 100 Senators, or “535 Members of parliament”, if you will. If Ghana were to behave like the US, the number of MPs in Ghana should be 535/12.5 or 43 using population figures; 535/33 or 16 using Geographic area figures and 535/421 or 1.3 using the size of the economy. In my view, the number of MPs in Ghana should be reduced to 50! As we have seen above, we are spending at least GHC 16,163 on each MP every month. Thus, every four years, we spend over GHC 775,824 (over $400,000) on each MP. If we cut off 225 MPs and retain 50, we will save over $90 million from this one action. How much is this for Ghana? Well, the average MRI machine costs about $300,000 each. Thus, if we take this single action, we can purchase 300 MRI machines for our Hospitals in Ghana!!! And this is every four years. Do you now see why our Hospitals are so ill-equipped? Folks, we are behaving very stupidly! We still have children studying under trees in Ghana. Sometimes, animals behave better! We always cry we are poor but I can tell you confidently that we are our own poverty creators!
Imagine what we can become as a nation if we start doing the right things, starting from the top! This is only one area of waste I have discussed above. We need to cut down on the number of ministers of state. We can use the money saved from this naked theft by our leaders to build schools for our children, to build and equip hospitals, and to train law enforcement officers. Oh God, please come to our rescue! Ghana is crying out for deliverance not from the white man but from thieves and vampires within. Ghana, our beloved country is crying to be rescued from thieves masquerading as leaders!