General News of Friday, 20 February 2015
Source: Franklin Cudjoe
I spent the greater part of yesterday in good company and had great conversations in three separate meetings about the future of this country. One of the meetings had visiting senior public officials from the West.
Here are some random points I picked up.
1. The country is broke monetarily and in terms of ideas, but there are good ideas to fix it if only leadership will listen.
2. The state of the economy will worsen with power outages. Some believed it will not be solved entirely until the next elections, IMF deal notwithstanding.
3. The IMF deal is the only hope Ghana has if she will be taken serious internationally.
4. Borrowing has reached dizzying heights with almost Ghc80bn in total domestic and external debts. We are inching closer to HIPC status.
5. It most likely Ghana’s books show precariously dangerous deficits than officially told.
6. We should not have borrowed at 8% to ‘invest’ in an infrastructure fund when we had idle government assets that could have been collateralised to raise a $1bn for the infrastructure fund.
7. The abuse of the purse especially payroll fraud and a non-performing Auditor-General do not give hope in our quest to fight corruption.
8. The vain glorification of partisan political colouration at the expense critically needed human resource especially in the appointment of office holders, board members. In the end we all suffer.
9. Petty thievery in almost all public institutions seeded with money the latest being MASLOC.
10. Electoral reforms must be speedily implemented, but political actors do not think the current ‘untrusted’ electoral commission and ‘perceived bias Judiciary’ will make us realise the full benefits of reforms.
11. The Boko Haram scare could consume us at elections. This view was disputed by a Nigerian official involved in peace building efforts in West Africa.
12. Ghana’s GNPC is so rich now and able to make deals happen. The Turkish barge will be sorted through GNPC’s and ECOBANK guarantees. Only it may take about six to eight months for the barge to get hooked into our grid.
13. The MCC money is still waiting to [be] drawn for preparation of reforms at Ghana’s Electricity Company (ECG). I believe there is enough money to pay retrenchment of at least 4,000 of the 5,000 workforce of ECG.
14. The Minister for power must make a final decision/declaration of gong full privatisation of ECG. The delay is political and costing Ghana each day.
15. Ghana’s National Security is getting more professional, conducting surveys about important subjects without bias, let or hindrance.
Some possible ways out:
1. The greatest option we have as a country going into an election with an IMF deal to match is for greater political dialogue.
2. The trade unions and indeed Ghanaians will have to hear different uplifting ideas on how to end the economic mess. They will fancy recouping at least Ghc3bn of looted funds in various scams. This could buy hope for the current government.
3. The political parties must be influenced even externally to keep the peace in all instances. Internally we must force political dialogues.
4. Civil society must ensure the next election is issue-driven, but only when they have the manifestos of political parties six months in advance.
5. Beef up the country’s security. It will not be enough to have weapon-less Policemen and women guarding important buildings and senior officers.
6. Public interest litigation will force non-performing institutions to sit up but these things cost money.
7. We need an integrated national ID system that could have multiple uses. Perhaps, we need to talk to Nigeria and MasterCard on how to get a national ID project right. The country must have control of the data and local content policies must ensure at least a 30%-70% partnership with any foreign company.
8. We truly need a deregulated upstream and downstream petroleum sector. Those oil blocs purchased by questionable characters for less now face herculean task developing the blocs.
The bill for developing each one costs upwards of $100m but now more difficult with lower oil prices. The downstream petroleum sector needs total deregulation to avoid price fixing by the National Petroleum Authority
Source: Franklin Cudjoe,
Founding President, IMANI Ghana