Wednesday, 8 February 2012

GHANA'S POLITICAL CLASS: CRONY-CAPITALISM & RIGGED MARKETS WON'T CREATE A PROSPEROUS SOCIETY IN GHANA!

"A society of markets, laws and elections is not enough if the rich and powerful fail to behave with respect, honesty and compassion."

- Jeffrey Sachs.

There are many independent-minded and patriotic Ghanaians, who believe that most of our nation's woes, stem directly from the fact that a majority of the rich and powerful in our society, are invariably neither very honest, nor compassionate, as individuals.

Those failings are reflected in their poor stewardship of our nation's resources. And our ruling elites have often not acted with genuine respect either, when dealing with the masses of the Ghanaian people. Being constantly lied to, is certainly not a relationship based on trust and respect, is it, dear reader?

And worst of all, our educated urban elites have conspired to ensure that Ghanaian democracy will almost always fail to deliver the so-called democracy-dividend to the ordinary people of Ghana - by successfully turning it into a plutocracy, in all but name.

It is for all the reasons above, that I could not help but contrast the reality of the iniquity of the days of the golden age of business, which Kufuor and Co. created for themselves, with the picture of a rosy and benign economic landscape and political climate painted in the speech delivered recently, by the New Patriotic Party's (NPP) candidate, for the December 2012 presidential election, Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo, in Houston, Texas, to an audience that was said to include American businesspeople.

In a sense, whiles Nana Akufo-Addo's Houston speech sought to project what he clearly wanted his audience to believe, will be a pro-American stance, were he to come to power after the December presidential election, and to reiterate the party's supposed belief in free markets, the truth of the matter, is that the reality of the NPP's eight years in power, was one of unalloyed crony-capitalism on an unprecedented scale, with wealthy crooks operating with impunity in opaque and rigged markets.

It resulted in the golden age of business, which Kufuor & Co. conjured up for themselves; members of their family clans; sundry bottom-power girlfriends (of the lascivious old men amongst those in power then); and their favourites amongst their regime's crony-capitalist backers.

They exploited our national economy, with a degree of ruthlessness, never seen before in the annals of Ghana's history. Said to be apparently guided by Nana Akufo-Addo's father's Beyeeman Freezing Company's ownership-losing-template, they learnt and perfected the art and science of how not to hide ownership of assets.

Deriving their own hidden-ownership-formula from that bitter Akufo-Addo lesson, Kufuor & Co. struck strategic alliances with only trusted crony-capitalist legal-fronts - resulting in the lucrative deals that have made them some of the wealthiest Africans on the continent today.

Accra's Tetteh Quarshie interchange stick-your-fingers-up-at-Ghana's-planning-laws Villagio apartments and Accra Mall, are monuments to their abuse-of-office-for-personal-enrichment investment strategy, and the unfathomable greed that drove their steely determination, to ensure that their personal net worth reached stratospheric heights, before they exited from office, during the entire period they were in power for. It was their number one priority, whiles in government.

One of the golden untouchable princes of that sunny era of plenty-for-a-powerful-few, was the Kufuor family clan's business associate, the owner of Trassaco Valley Estates, Michelleti and Consar, the Italian-Ghanaian, Ernest Tarricone. Now it turns out he was allegedly also in cahoots with Woyome to dupe Ghana of tens of millions of dollars.

Every social intervention policy made by Kufuor & Co., ostensibly to help ordinary people, simply ended up becoming an avenue for well-connected rogues to rip Ghana off. Nothing was sacred.

NPP big-wigs and influence peddlers grabbed unit upon unit, in the affordable housing project initiated by their regime, even whiles the sodden units were under construction - and although the funding for it had been used up and the project had more or less ground to a halt.

Microfinance and Small Loans Centre (MASLOC) loans meant to uplift the hard-working poor-with-aspirations, were swiftly grabbed by the selfsame greedy group of selfish individuals.

It was indeed a pitiless and cruel dog-eat-dog age - during which the moral fabric of Ghanaian society was destroyed beyond repair, by the ruthless and power-drunk individuals then in power.

Even the school-feeding programme for primary school children, was not spared. In reality, it was designed, for political reasons, to be preyed upon by the regime-small-fry - and ended up sometimes being used as a means to buy off, and placate, fallen women taken advantage of by deceitful and philanderering male NPP politicians.

Meanwhile, the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) became a lucrative cash-cow for white-collar criminals - enabling well-educated and mostly middle class thieves and swindlers, to steal billions of cedis from the hapless taxpayers of Ghana, through never ending fraudulent claims by pharmacists; private hospitals; and private medical laboratories, amongst others.

Sadly, it is no accident that it is the Ashanti Region, which has been targeted as the first region in Ghana, to pilot the Mills administration's long overdue initiative, to plug the many NHIS loopholes, which brazen fraudsters were taking advantage of with such impunity.

Unfortunately, the Ashanti Region's major city and capital, Kumasi, ended up becoming the fraud capital of Ghana, during the golden age of business for Kufuor & Co.

That is why the NHIS claims fraud was so pervasive in the Ashanti Region - which easily topped (and still tops) the list of scheme areas with the most fraudulent claims. And it was classic NPP pork-barrel politricks at work - in its heartland.

(Incidentally, the Ashanti Region is the land of my birth - Kwadaso's Soil Research Institute, of the Council for Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR), to be precise. I grew up and was educated in Kumasi. And I love its warm and welcoming ordinary people, to bits. But I digress.)

And, alas, true to form, the present regime's hapless PR people, inexplicably damned the NHIS reform initiative from birth, by giving it the daft nomenclature, "capitation" - when it should have simply been made crystal clear to Ghanaians nationwide, that it was an initiative to reform the NHIS: and rid it of the massive fraud it was bedevilled with, and which was crippling and gradually killing it.

The coming into existence of the Metro Mass Transit Company, also enabled Kufuor & Co.'s crony-capitalist pals to grow even richer - from amongst other lucrative wheezes it made possible, the importation of completely unsuitable buses, for our rugged terrain, from China.

And as we all know, our nation's second city, Kumasi, also became Ghana's smuggling capital - and a mecca for tax-dodgers and well-connected wealthy fraudsters dealing in imported fake products, during the golden age of business for the perfidious Kufuor & Co.

Today, the opaque and rigged markets of our nation's economy, are frequently given perfect legal cover - by clever and powerful people: cynically manipulating our legal system. It is what made the Woyomegate judgement-debt scandal possible and inevitable.

Naturally, it is an unacceptable situation, which has alienated most ordinary people, yet further, from Ghana's so-called democracy - in reality nothing more than a rapacious plutocracy masquerading as a democracy.

There is no question the NPP of Kufuor & Co. was very very bad for Ghana - and white collar crime in Ghana will worsen for sure, were it to return to power again (God forbid!).

So for those Ghanaians with rather short memories, who might be tempted by the NPP's relentless propaganda barrage on our nation's airwaves and in the rented NPP print media, to vote the party of Kufuor & Co. back into power again, it is important to remember a few pertinent facts.

Amongst some of the many evils of the boom years of plenty-for-a-powerful-and-greedy-few, made possible by the NPP-era's opaque and rigged markets, in the real-world economy developed by Kufuor & Co., was that only the politically well-connected prospered - and did so mightily indeed.

And underpinning their success, were these factors: unfathomable elite-greed; endless abuse of power; the routine use of insider-information by many of Kufuor & Co.'s crony-capitalist pals (an example being a contract to supply the Electricity Company of Ghana with pre-paid meters won by one of his sons - whose cool US$2 million profit on that one deal alone, was an egregious example of profiteering at Mother Ghana's expense); and worst of all, the victimisation of businesspeople (including taking government contracts away from even known NPP supporters in the Ghanaian business world), who were perceived enemies of Kufuor & Co. Should Ghana go back to those days again by returning Kufuor & Co. to power again?

Does that kind of abuse of power and never ending impunity of the rich and powerful in our homeland Ghana, not pose a real threat to continued peace in Ghanaian society and ensuring the stability of the Ghanaian nation-state? Most of their actions and policies whiles in power, did not actually redound to the benefit of the ordinary people of Ghana, did they?

Well, it did not do so yesterday, when the NPP ruled Ghana, dear reader - and it is most certainly not doing so today, either, under the National Democratic Congress (NDC) regime of President Mills and Vice President Mahama.

And neither will it do so, were Kufuor & Co. to be returned to power again (God forbid!), after the December presidential election.

So faced with a Hobson's choice type of dilemma, as to who to vote for in December, were the NDC to rid itself of President Mills and his partner Vice President Mahama, in a few weeks hence (hopefully), and replace them with the NDC anti-corruption dream-team of a President Martin Amidu, and Vice President Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings, then for the sake of Mother Ghana, opting for the NDC ticket will be the lesser-evil choice we must all make.

Finally, dear reader, I shall end by repeating the opening quotation by Jeffrey Sachs - for the benefit of all the members of Ghana's political class, particularly President Mills and the members of his administration, and Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo, as well as the decent-minded members of the NPP.

One hopes that all of them will always be guided by the wisdom it contains: "A society of markets, laws and elections is not enough if the rich and powerful fail to behave with respect, honesty and compassion."

- Jeffrey Sachs.

Certainly, our homeland Ghana will be a much much better place, for all its citizens, if our ruling elites turned over a new leaf. Crony-capitalism, opaque and rigged markets, will never bring prosperity to the ordinary people of Ghana. A word to the wise...

Tel (Powered by Tigo - the one mobile phone network in Ghana that actually works!): + 233 (0) 27 745 3109.
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