A news report attributed to the Minister of Food and Agriculture, Mr Clement Kofi Humado, on Myjoyonline.com of Wednesday, February 5, 2014 revealed the Mahama-led administration’s plans to privatize the NDC’s much touted National Food and Buffer Stock Company due to financial difficulties.
Reasons adduced by the Agric Minister for the privatization was not just red herring but also betray the ruling party’s belief in its own social democratic ideology.
For worthy reasons such as providing ready markets to farmers in order to guarantee national food security and also to minimize hardship farmers and the citizens go through during the lean seasons, the NDC government under late Professor Mills in 2010 set up the National Food and Buffer Stock Company.
Indeed, the NDC government has claimed wide commendation both local and international for setting up such a company. Government’s own budget statements over the years reveal how fantastic the company was faring and how it has kept price of foodstuffs stable.
The establishment of the company provided respite for farmers as they had market for their produce and also motivated to produce more to feed the nation.
Aside the comfort it brought to farmers and the credit government took for its exploits, it also helped to keep the price of foodstuffs like Kenkey stable. Because government was involved in selling the produce anytime it became scarce, the prices of agricultural goods in the markets was stable and that also reduced hardship.
It is quite sickening that at a time the Mahama government is battling with serious economic challenges, fast depreciation of the cedi and unpleasant hardship among the populace, the government plans privatizing the National Food and Buffer Stock Company.
Government itself considers the move as sensitive as the Deputy Ministry of Agric, Dr Ahmed Yakubu Alhassan, when contacted by The Al-Hajj yesterday declined comment on the matter, with the excuse that he has not conferred with his minister, who is currently out of the country.
It would not be out place to state that such a plan is disastrous for a government that is already battling with widespread economic hardship in the country.
Privatizing the company means the private individuals who will take over the company will buy the foodstuffs at lesser cost from farmers, hoard to create artificial shortage and sell it at cut throat price to the already suffering masses.
This will escalate hardship in the country and the earlier the NDC government rescinds its decision to privatize it, the better. Members of this government were those who spearheaded demonstrations against the ex-President Kufuor’s government for selling Ghana Telecom to Vodafone because the company was financially distressed.
Indeed, majority of those in government today, proffered wise economic theories that the best way to bailout a state run company from its financial predicament was not to let it out to private individuals, but to find alternate source of funding and the right caliber of personnel to prop it up. Now the question is what has changed?
If the NDC government cannot guarantee the citizenry of food security by fulfilling all its financial obligations to the National Food and Buffer Stock Company, then what else can it do? What are the priority issues of this government? Is to breed guinea fowls, plant trees, pay judgment debts or what?
It will serve president Mahama and the NDC government right if they begin to rethink plans to let out the company to private individuals.