Monday, 29 April 2013

Make Ghana Immune To Public Sector Strikes

No Ghanaian citizen resident in Ghana, ought to become  a victim   of striking and militant employees,    of entities that  come under  various organs of the Ghanaian nation-state.

It really is intolerable that innocent people should die needlessly,  for example, as a result of strike action by healthcare professionals,  employed to work in government hospitals and clinics around the country. Nothing can justify that. Ever. Not in a civilised nation such as ours.

The time has now  come for those who currently rule our nation   to take active steps,   to ensure that no  employee of any entity under an  organ of a nation-state, which  spends over 60 percent of total government revenue to pay its employees, is driven to hold ordinary Ghanaians  to ransom,  by embarking  on strike action   under any circumstances -  without automatically being dismissed from his or her  job.

There can be no justification for state employees  inconveniencing Ghanaian citizens by embarking on strike action.

After all, it is  precisely because of the dedicated service they are required to render the people of Ghana   and their nation,  during their working lives,  that the Ghanaian nation-state guarantees public-sector employees  a pension for the rest of their lives:  when they finally go on retirement.

President Mahama's administration ought to take a leaf from New York's Taylor Law,  and from legislation in the other  jurisdictions in the United States of America, which ban strikes by  all public employees,  to draw up a suitable bill to be presented to Parliament  and  passed into law,  which  will outlaw strikes by all categories of public-sector employees in Ghana.

It is long overdue - in a nation that has to be globally competitive and disciplined in order  to prosper. If as many as 39 states in the U.S.A. ban strikes by public employees,  why should Ghana not follow suit too?

President Mahama and his administration  must learn  valuable lessons   from the  extraordinary number of actual strikes -  and threats of strikes -  by public-sector employees,  since their regime came to power in January 2013.

Hopefully, having now seen the light, one hopes that the current administration  will now understand that selling its remaining stake in the partially state-owned downstream oil marketing company, Ghana Oil Company Limited (GOIL), is a very bad idea.

If GOIL remains in government hands,  and is encouraged  to sell  LPG gas in  outlets where that would be profitable, for example, one doubts very much that  the current widespread artificial LPG gas shortages would ever occur again, going forward.

Keeping GOIL in government hands,  will  also ensure that should it ever happen, any future politically motivated strike by privately-owned oil marketing companies,  refusing to sell fuel and other refined petroleum products to motorists, will not cause the national economy to grind to a halt.

And if privately-owned  bus companies and other private transport owners too decided to go on strike at some point in future - to put political pressure on a government of the day, which the  opposition party  they supported    wanted to make unpopular - would a state-owned  Intercity STC bus company, together with  the Metro Mass Transit Company,  not still keep the travelling public moving:   and enable travellers  to reach their final destinations around the country  safely?

Instead of the short-sighted decision to find a strategic investor to hand it over to, the present government would be wise to give the  Intercity STC bus company to the commercial wing of the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF).

The GAF will assemble   a  team of suitably qualified individuals -  civilian and military -  to  run it  as a disciplined, no-nonsense results-oriented  business entity.

It is just the sort of business that will thrive in the efficient and disciplined hands of the GAF - which is peerless when it comes to logistics. It proved it with Air Link - which at a point in time was the only domestic airline in Ghana.

Surely,  Intercity STC's  largest shareholder, which  wants to divest its holding in the company -  the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) -  would gladly accept long-term government paper with a decent coupon, which  it could  discount for cash today:  as payment for its stake?

To have the peace of mind to fulfil its manifesto promises to Ghanaians within its 4-year tenure, President Mahama's administration  must think strategically.

What is going on now, is only a dress rehearsal for the  2015-2016 campaign season,   when Ghana will definitely become "ungovernable" (to quote a genius)   -  if laws outlawing strikes by public-sector employees are not in place by then - as its main political opponent seeks to make the Mahama administration unpopular.

That is why President Mahama's administration  must take active steps now, to insulate itself from the effects of politically motivated strikes - by passing appropriate laws and taking suitable measures (including becoming the fairest and most enlightened  employer in the land), which   will make  the Ghanaian nation-state immune to strikes by public-sector employees. A word to the wise...

Tel: 027 745 3109.

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Why Ghana Must Shun Nuclear Power

Any sincere and patriotic Ghanaian, who cares about the well-being of  present and future generations of Ghanaians, and  reads the eye-opening article below, will come to no other conclusion,  than that he or she ought to take a determined  stand against Ghana - a nation dominated by a corrupt and greedy educated urban elite  that mostly lacks integrity - opting to build a nuclear power plant.

Why should a few individuals - probably taking kickbacks or dreaming of kickbacks coming their way from wealthy and powerful multinational corporations  -  commit our nation to opt for an industry, which produces dangerous waste that will remain radioactive for over a thousand years,  and must be closely-guarded and stored securely all that while?

Is this not a nation that refuses to regularly maintain existing infrastructure; and is unable to deal with the relatively simple task of the safe disposal of household and industrial waste, I ask? It must not happen - and it will not happen.

In any case, we have abundant sunshine, why not make the provision of  solar power systems a tax-free business and make  purchasing and installing  them in any building tax-deductible?

Will that not bring them within the reach of millions - especially if low-interest (nothing more than 3.5 percent) installment payment plans were available from leasing companies? And would that not boost the leasing industry too? Who would bother about dumsor-dumsor power outages if they had lights powered by a solar power system of their own, I ask?

The article  is culled from the online alternative news platform and was  written by a retired Indian naval officer,
Buddhi Kota Subbarao,Ph.D. Please read on:

"By Buddhi Kota Subbarao.Ph.D.

24 March, 2013

Men may lie, machines do not. The substandard components allegedly supplied by a Russian Company for the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant in Southern India caused the Nuclear Plant to become a Speaking Tree. What it speaks now contains salient lessons for India and Russia for the good of people of both the countries.

According to the information released to the Russian media via the official Rosbalt agency, the Federal Security Service, or FSB the successor organization to the KGB arrested Sergei Shutov, procurement director of a prominent machine building plant in Russia known as ZiO-Podolsk . As the procurement director, Shutov allegedly connived and allowed low-grade steel and such other low grade raw materials used by ZiO-Podolsk to manufacture equipment for nuclear power plants. . The information travelled to the rest of the world through the website ( ) of Bellona Foundation, an international environmental NGO based in Norway. Consequently, alarm bells started ringing for the safety of nuclear power plants in Russia and other countries including China and India where Russian designs and equipment are deployed .

The accusation is, Sergei Shutov as procurement director of ZiO-Podolsk in collusion with ZiO-Podolsk's supplier  A???-Industriya accepted low quality steel priced as if it is of high quality steel and jointly pocketed the huge difference in price. Moscow court ordered Shutov's arrest. Since, nuclear technology is an unforgiving technology; substandard components endanger the safety of nuclear power plant with attendant danger to people.

“Stopping and conducting full-scale checks of reactors where equipment from ZiO-Podolsk has been installed is absolutely necessary,” said Vladimir Slivyak, co-chair of Russia's  Ecodefense . “Otherwise [there is] the risk of a serious accident at a nuclear power plant with clean-up bills stretching into the tens and even hundreds of millions of dollars [that] will have to be footed by taxpayers.”

The scandal driven ZiO-Podolsk is Russia's only manufacturer of steam generators for nuclear plants built by country's nuclear energy corporation, Rosatom and by its international reactor construction subsidiary Atomstroiproyekt .

BLOOMBERG describes and gives the Company Profile for ZiO Podolsk ( ), “ ZiO-Podolsk designs and manufactures power machinery for fuel and energy complexes in Russia and other countries. The Company designs, fabricates, and installs boilers, heat-recovery steam generators, heat exchangers, vessels, columns, and other products. ZiO-Pololsk serves the thermal power, nuclear power, oil and gas, and other industries.”

ZiO-Podolsk, having otherwise a notable long track record as machine building plant commencing in 1919 and continuing since 1946, became in due course a subsidiary organization of Atomenergomash, founded in 2006. Atomenergomash was acquired in 2007 by Atomenergoprom, which is 100-percent state-owned. Atomenergoprom is a part of Rosatom.

Full investigation by FSB should reveal how many nuclear reactors have been impacted by the alleged scandal. Reactors built by Russia in India, Bulgaria, Iran, China as well as several reactor construction and repair projects in Russia itself may have been affected by the substandard equipment.

Koodankulam nuclear power plant is from an Inter-Governmental Agreement signed in November 1988 by the then Prime Minister  of India Rajiv Gandhi and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev , for the construction of two Russian VVER 1000 reactors of 1000 MW each. Initial estimated cost of the project was US$ 3 billion (Rs.13.6 crore.). Construction began in September 2001.

Under the overall technical supervision of Russian specialists, the construction work has been undertaken by the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL), a Public Sector Enterprise under the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), Government of India. As per the existing setup in India, the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) has regulatory functions in respect of site selection, construction, testing and tuning and commissioning, and during operation, maintenance and decommissioning and also in all the related nuclear safety measures.

Koodankulam Nuclear Power Project (KKNPP Units 1 & 2) has been witnessing a series of delays. As per the NPCIL website ( ) viewed on April 23, 2013, the scheduled date of commercial operation for Unit-1 was Dec-2007 and for Unit-2, Dec-2008. The website shows 99.66 % ‘physical progress' as on Mar-2013 for Unit-1 and 93.88 %  for Unit-2. The website presents ‘ Expected Date of Commercial Operation' for Unit-1 as May-2013 and for Unit-2 as Dec-2013.

Lessons for Russia.

(i) It is to the full credit of Vladimir Putin that his government allowed FSB to investigate the mismanagement in ZiO-Podolsk. If this investigation is thorough and full and if the guilty are brought to justice it would enhance the reputation of Russia worldwide.

(ii) Those who have the design knowledge of the Pressurised Water Reactors (PWR) would agree that the Russian VVER 1000 design contains several better inherent safety features when compared with the PWR designs of other countries. If anyone disputes with this fact, this author is ready for a public debate on it. The point is, having had such a good design to offer to other countries, if any substandard components are inadvertently supplied to the countries which have chosen Russian design, Russia upon thorough investigation by its FSB should voluntarily disclose all the relevant facts, and compensate if necessary, to assure those countries that Russia prefers honest business and not any kind of cover up. Thus the Russian Federation would be able to covert the adversity from the misdeed, if any, of ZiO-Podolsk to the advantage of Russia.

(iii) If the available natural resources and the long term interests of India were to guide India to abandon nuclear power plants, Russia should not feel disappointed if in the process Koodankulam nuclear power project is abandoned. If KKNPP is abandoned, the friendship and mutual respect of the people of India and Russia would multiply and remain firm. People of India do know that Russians have been extending help to India whenever India faced a crisis. Space does not permit to discuss all the details.

Lessons for India

(a) Indian government would be acting in public interest in India if it follows the Russian example and orders full investigation into the mismanagement of the Indian nuclear establishment. Among the several instances of mismanagement, the failure of the Indian nuclear submarine propulsion plant design & development project and the failure of the first hydrogen bomb test of India should be given priority. That would show the need to reorient fully the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) of India.

(b) Indian government must now disclose to the public the outcome of the investigation into accident on March 31, 1993 at Narora Atomic Power Station (NAPS). Upon investigating into the accident there was a report from the AERB (Atomic Energy Regulatory Board) appointed Committee and another report from the NPCIL (Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd.) appointed Committee. Both reports were marked secret and were not disclosed to the public.

(c)  Upon inquiry into the unprecedented collapse of the containment dome of Unit-I of the Kaiga plant in 1994, there was a report from the AERB appointed Committee and another report from the NPCIL appointed Committee. Both reports were marked secret and were not disclosed to the public. Now the Indian government should make these reports public.

(d) A total 130 nuclear safety violations in all our nuclear establishments were compiled in 1996 by the then chairman of AERB Dr.A.Gopalakrishnan. Admittedly, 95 of these safety violations belong to the nuclear power plants. Therefore, at least these 95 listed safety violations should now be disclosed to the public as the nuclear power plants belong to the civilian sector and not defence sector.

(e) There is information in the public domain that the Management  of the Russian built Tianwan Nuclear Power Plant in China had complained to Rosatom with over 3,000 grievances regarding the low quality of materials delivered to construct the plant. Indian government should find out from Russia if any substandard components are used in the construction of the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant. This could be one of the points but not the sole point to examine seriously the question, “whether it is prudent to abandon the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Project?”

(f) Being ill advised and insufficiently advised, the Indian government is unable to delink the nuclear weapon pursuit from the pursuit of generating electricity from nuclear energy. Now is the time to understand fully the need for delinking as explained in the article “ Whether Ordinance On Self-Denial Of Nuclear Power Harmful To India?” (

(g) A proper account of India's natural resources and an honest cost-benefit analysis would show that for meeting the growing energy needs and to improve quality of life and health of its people, India should not commit any more of its money to nuclear power, but exploit fully its hydro potential and explore the uses of alternate sources of energy such as solar, wind, tidal wave and geothermal, while taking strict measures and improvements on energy losses. A detailed discussion is in the analytical article, “ Need To Revisit The Role Of Nuclear Power For India 's Energy Security.” (

(h) India is blessed with a large number of rivers and as such has enormous hydro potential which is exploited not even thirty per cent. Hydropower is clean and cheap, which gives not only electricity, but also irrigation, drinking water, navigation, fishery and such other additional benefits. Health of the people improves if there is clean drinking water. Reference may be made to “ Who Benefits From Nuclear Power Plants In India? ” (

(i) Atomic energy regulation in India is a make believe exercise. No more time should be wasted in positioning an independent and effective nuclear regulator. “ “AERB And Regulatory Capture In India: Conflict of Interest?”


(j) Since 1994, this writer has been repeatedly cautioning with several of his articles that India is going to face internal and external wars for water. Now the clash with China for water has taken shape. DNA ( APR 19, 2013, Mumbai) editorial, titled, “ A dry India reflects lack of foresight” explains that China being in control of  1,700 km of the Yarlung Zangbo river, the Tibetan part of the Brahmaputra River, and having taken up the construction of dams on the Yarlong Zangbo river to generate 40,000 MW of hydroelectric power at the Tsongpo Gorge which will be twice as big as the Three Gorges dam (the present world's largest hydro dam in China), the northern part of the Indian subcontinent is going to face unprecedented calamity.

(k) People's opposition to nuclear power is justified as they are rightly concerned for their lives and the lives of future generations. They are also effectively pointing out the detrimental energy policy of India. To come out of this detrimental energy policy, the first necessary prudent step is to abandon Koodankulam nuclear power project, so that, country would save several billions of rupees from being invested in further  nuclear power projects at Jaitapur, Kovvada and other places in the country and that money will be available for hydro, solar, wind and other means of ensuring energy security of India.

Buddhi Kota Subbarao    is former Indian Navy Captain with Ph.D. in nuclear technology from Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay . His e-mail address:

© Copyright: Author. "

End of culled article from

Tel: 027 745 3109.

Empowering Disadvantaged Ghanaians

Author's note: This piece was wriiten on 24/4/2013. It is being posted today, because I was unable to do so on the day. Please read on:

Driving through the city of Accra yesterday, I was struck by the sense of optimism in the air. It was palpable.

Far from being in despair,  as the doomsayers in our midst insist, it occurred to me that  on the whole, Ghanaians are indeed a happy people - many full of hope about their own future prospects.

Despite the buffeting the economy is experiencing,  with an escalating budget deficit caused largely by a ballooning public-sector wage bill,   many middle class Ghanaians are prospering - and the evidence is in the amazing buildings springing up all over Accra;  the many shops selling a cornucopia of expensive consumer items found in the best shops in Europe, Asia and the USA and Canada, etc;  and the many new saloon cars and SUV's one sees on our traffic-choked roads.

Clearly,  one part of the nation is doing rather well, whiles those they are leaving behind need to be given a helping hand, to lift  themselves out of poverty   by their own bootstraps.

We need not however wring our hands in despair about the plight of the disadvantaged. Something positive  can done to give more of them  a helping hand - and give them a fighting chance to succeed.

To enable the government to empower the millions of  disadvantaged Ghanaians - particularly the rural poor - keen to escape from the  poverty trap, initiatives like the Local Enterprises Skills Development Programme (LESDEP), and  the Ghana Youth Employment and Entrepreneurial Development Agency (GYEEDA),  must be fine-tuned and made more accessible to people at the grassroots-level nationwide.

In addition to the taxi cabs being provided by the GYEEDA on a "work-and-pay" installment basis, for example, mini-buses must also be provided on the same terms - with a small profit margin added to the total amount to be repaid by beneficiaries -  to pay for insurance against defaulting,  and to support that particular GYEEDA initiative.

Naturally,  satellite tracking of all vehicles provided beneficiaries by GYEEDA is vital - and ought be made possible.

To make such schemes financially sustainable, it would help if all those who wanted  to take part in the LESDEP and  GYEEDA initiatives,  were  made to buy a special lottery ticket, which would automatically qualify them to participate in those initiatives.

The money raised by the  National Lotteries Authority (NLA) in that special lottery,  would  help augment the money provided LESDEP and GYEEDA by taxpayers.

Better management that rids  the initiatives of the alleged  corruption bedeviling them, would also make more funds available to expand those initiatives right  across the nation.

President Mahama says he wants to make Ghana a land of opportunities for its people.

Well, yet another way  to create opportunities for SME's in  Ghana's furniture industry, for example, is  to implement the brilliant idea by a member of the National Democratic Congress' (NDC) communications team -  Mr. Fred Agbenu -   that  government ministries,  departments and agencies ought to be obliged to buy only  made in Ghana furniture.

The  government ought to bring a bill before Parliament so that that brilliant  idea can be passed into law.

That will create jobs and help furniture makers in Ghana to grow and prosper -  if implemented by the NDC  regime of President Mahama.

Above all, to enable the government to have the wherewithal to fund such empowerment initiatives,  in addition to cutting down on wasteful expenditure in the public sector, President Mahama's government must do all it can  to plug the loopholes that enable corrupt individuals  to siphon off taxpayers' money.

New legislation that financially rewards those who provide information about the theft of public funds, which  leads to the prosecution and conviction of those found  guilty of corruption by the law courts, ought to be brought before Parliament too,  and passed quickly.

It will help expose the many crooked schemes devised by sundry rogues  and nation-wreckers engaged in corruption, which   makes it possible for the dishonest  to milk  Mother Ghana dry.

That is one of the most effective ways  of ensuring that the public purse is protected by the citizenry.

Finally, to help us transition to a low-emission development model - and  as part of a forest climate services partnership between  Ghana and Norway (and other Scandinavian nations),    wealth could be created in rural Ghana,  by protecting existing forests and through agro-forestry initiatives.

A similar partnership between Guyana and Norway, in which Guyana actively protects its forests to mitigate the impact of global climate change,  has earned  Guyana about some US$115 millions  thus far. It is money that could  dramatically transform rural Ghana

As part of such a low carbon development agenda, for example, rural cooperatives could be formed to  rehabilitate  land destroyed by illegal mining - by  growing jetropha trees on them to produce bio-diesel.

Through lateral thinking on the part of our leaders, it is indeed possible for the Ghanaian nation-state to play its part, in empowering  the disadvantaged in Ghana.

Tel: 027 745 3109.


Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Inside The Moated-Fortresses Of Ignorance Of The Kennedy Adjapongs

For those who have failed thus far  to see through the few powerful and  cynical individuals,  who  currently hold sway in  the New Patriotic Party (NPP), and surround the decent-minded  and gentlemanly Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo,   it might be  hard to connect  a member of Parliament representing a constituency controlled by their party, in what is supposed to be a democratic country,  with a call to the    youth of  their  party  to be prepared to go out unto the streets to  sacrifice their lives for the NPP.

The shock for such innocents-abroad, is that they always thought their party's view,  was  that compromise and tolerance underpinned constitutional  democracy.

Consequently, they find the verbally aggressive tone of the  Kennedy Adjapongs in their midst, rather baffling and hard to fathom.

Above all,  those decent individuals  always thought that the fight for power in a democracy,  for their party, was premised on  a competition of ideas - with power going to the political party able to convince the largest numbers of voters that its vision of society best represented  their own aspirations.

The sad thing in all this, as the Ghanaian nation-state is made more or less steadily impossible to govern,  and its fragile economy slowly emasculated - as a political tactic to advance the power-through-the-back-door-
route agenda of the party's reckless and short-sighted hardliners: regardless of   its deleterious impact  on ordinary people   -  is that the NPP's Kennedy Adjapongs,  more than most in their  party,   know perfectly well that their party did indeed lose the December 2012 presidential election:  as the Supreme Court will eventually rule.

They are  also aware that because the dominant clique of hardliners in the party's leadership believe firmly that in politics and life,  the end always justifies the means,   they see the  exploitation of legal technicalities as a perfect back-door-route-to-power political tactic - never mind the effect on the nation of their insincere actions.

And it is also a super-effective  back-door-route-to-power tactic,   which,  as luck would have it,  can  suitably be clothed by the cynical and amoral, with the respectable and classical garb of high-principle and belief in the  rule of law -  to dazzle the silent majority of decent-minded individuals who identify with their  party mostly for the ideals it claims to stand for.

That is  why as long as the few extremist and hard-line individuals in Nana Akufo-Addo's inner-circle continue to dominate the NPP and maintain their iron grip on the party's structures, the party's  Kennedy Adjapongs  will continue to sally forth from their chi-chi  moated-fortresses of ignorance,  to rave and rant - much to the discomfiture of ordinary apolitical folk in Ghana:   and continue to get away with their pure nonsense on bamboo stilts,   simply because of the spinelessness of those who should arrest and prosecute those loud blunderbuss-mouths, but fail to do  so.

Yet appeasement in such circumstances  seldom leads to lasting peace - as has been demonstrated in countless places where civil strife is deliberately engineered by power-hungry and sadistic individuals.

Ghanaians will therefore   continue to be forced to put up with the anti-democratic and seditious fulminations of the NPP's Kennedy Adjapongs for some time - meaning those confounded  geniuses will  continue living comfortably in the moated-fortresses of ignorance they are ensconced in. Pity. Hmm, Ghana - eyeasem o.

Tel: 027 745 3109.

Creative Thinking Will Save Ghana - And Move It Forward

The tragedy for Ghana, is that given the same political situation in the country,  and the same set of economic conditions, had the New Patriotic Party (NPP) held  uninterrupted power from December 2008 to date, many of those now busy condemning the National Democratic Congress (NDC)  administration of President Mahama, would be telling Ghanaians with straight faces that they had never had it so good.

(Naturally, one could also say the same thing,  had roles been reversed,  and the National Democratic Congress was the main opposition party.)

Those selfsame critics of the administration of President Mahama,   would  be insistent, for example,   that Ghana's low rate of inflation was ultimate  proof of the soundness of the government's economic policies - and repeatedly state that a low and stable rate of inflation engenders  confidence in the business world, which leads to  investment decisions being made by companies: resulting in future  GDP growth and the creation of jobs.

It is such double-talk, and the constant desire to see the country in disarray when they themselves are not in power, which  shows the insincerity and cynical nature of many in the world of politics in Ghana.

Although he himself is not afflicted  by  this unfortunate  malady,   the decent and gentlemanly Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo's  NPP,  is particularly guilty of this terrible crime against Mother Ghana.

Should the desire to maintain the international  reputation of Ghana as an oasis of peace,  and a stable multi-party democracy, not be  uppermost in the minds of all Ghanaian politicians?

Now a notion gradually gaining some traction in Ghana, luckily, some  of us  have repeatedly stated, for nearly two decades now, that the Ghanaian media should neither tolerate nor encourage those who engage in  endless criticism of governments of the day,  in what is still a poor developing country with many problems, without offering viable alternative policy solutions to the problems we face as a people.

Is it not time that that  tiresome trait of the smug-arrogant and the too-clever-by-half mediocre -  endless criticism without the offer of sound alternative policy solutions -  was made a thing of the past in the Ghanaian media?

(Speaking personally - and I say this  humbly, and only to make a point -  it  gives me great satisfaction that from the gem of an original idea of mine,  in one of my previous articles, a whole class of self-employed youth has been created quietly and  without fanfare by the NDC,  across the nation, through the Local Enterprise Skills Development Programme (LESDEP) and its growing variants. But I digress)

As can be seen in the impoverishment of millions in member states of the European Union,   and the economic upheavals being experienced in so many highly-indebted wealthy nations in the eurozone today, the old certainties in economics no longer apply.

The only certainty today,  is uncertainty. What ordinary Ghanaians need to hear, are  the creative  alternative solutions, which  those who criticise the way their nation is  run - as well as complain about  the actions  and inaction of public officials -  propose as their solutions to the difficulties that confront  Ghanaians   and their nation daily.

The decent and gentlemanly Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo's  NPP,  will find that if its small army of 'communicators' concentrated on offering  creative solutions to Ghana's many problems, it would redound to the party's benefit, when the next presidential election is held in 2016.

It is time all Ghanaian politicians  understood clearly that creative thinking  (not endless criticism instead of constructive criticism)  is what will save the enterprise Ghana - and help move It Forward. A word to the wise...

Tel: 027 745 3109.

EDAIF Cash Can Be Disbursed To District-Level SME Exporters At 4 Percent

It would appear that many of the banks in Ghana, are just as greedy and sly  as banks in the wealthy nations of the West.

Alas, like their counterparts elsewhere, they too are moated fortresses of the mundane,  with thickened walls of pedestrian thinking - whose slippery drawbridges, guarded by dissimulation, are seldom traversed  by creative thinking.

Is it not  scandalous that a fund meant to help increase the number of district-level  SME's engaged in the export trade and empower them -  thereby improving Ghana's balance of payments; whiles creating wealth and jobs in rural Ghana -  is being seen instead as a main-chance cash cow by  fat cats in the banking industry?

What justification could there possibly be for well-heeled banks in Ghana to insist on making  as much as 10 percent profit, merely for acting as  conduits for the disbursal of funds from the Export Development and Agricultural Investment Fund (EDAIF), which is given to them by the EDAIF secretariat at just  2.5 percent interest?

Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom, who   demonstrated leadership  in such dramatic fashion, and showed  that he believes in accountability and transparency,  and practices it in his own affairs  - by publicly publishing the results of his medical examination,   to prove he was physically fit to be President; put his filed tax returns in the public domain;  and declared the sources of funding for his Progressive Peoples Party (PPP) during the December 2012 elections -  now has an opportunity to do something just as radical,   in the banking industry.

He can position his First National Savings and Loan Company as a leading bank in Ghana, when it finally receives its retail banking licence.

He can do so  by approaching the EDAIF secretariat to do a deal with it - by giving a written undertaking that if given most of  the EDAIF funds to disburse nationwide, his First National Savings and Loan Company will add just a 1 percent coupon rate,   plus 0.5 percent as administration fees, and set up branches  in all the districts in Ghana to work closely with the EDAIF secretariat,  to disburse the funds expeditiously  to exporting SME clients at just 4 percent, and  in transparent fashion.

That will be the First National Savings and Loans Company's CSR contribution to the growth of Ghanaian SME's engaged in the export of non-traditional products.

And what SME exporter in Ghana,  able to borrow money at such low rates of interest, will fail to succeed, I ask?

Let the EDAIF secretariat make a fresh start - by holding a beauty parade of banks
Interested in disbursing funds from the EDAIF at just 4 percent.

It will be  pleasantly surprised to discover that it  will end up with more honest and better organised successor partners - a world of difference from  those currently disbursing cash from the EDAIF in that shabby and opaque lets-ripp-off-the-system fashion.

Tel: 027 745 3109.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Sustainable Green Alternatives To Illegal Gold Mining

One of the most effective ways that nature-lovers in our country  can  help halt the menace of illegal gold mining,  is by supporting sustainable local economic alternatives -  which help conserve the natural environment:  particularly  that of Ghana's  forest belt.

If environmental activists in our country  think creatively, between Corporate Ghana and keep-fit clubs in wealthy residential areas in  urban Ghana, for example, we could find influential allies who could  play important roles in helping to protect the remainder of our nation's rain forests.

Human resource departments of companies seeking to bond their management teams, and  the membership of  keep-fit clubs in wealthy residential areas,   could all  indulge  their employees' and members'   passion for physical fitness,  by taking up rainforest conservation initiatives that have   hiking as the centrepiece attraction.

Here's my own two-pesewa contribution:

I recommend one such initiative to extend already existing upland evergreen rainforest hiking trails at  Akyem Juaso -  to a point where they could eventually be used for  holding  fitness championships: in which corporate management teams and keep-fit clubs  with the most members finishing the course within a stipulated time, wins the event.

Perhaps one of Accra's many television and FM radio stations  could take up the challenge of organising the voluntary work needed to complete such a project  - as a CSR project?

Nestle and some of the telecoms companies could sponsor the championship and offer prize money and a championship silver cup.

The idea would be  to help the Chief and people of a   local fringe-forest cocoa-farming village, Akyem Juaso,  partner the biggest landowners in the area, the P. E. Thompson Estate (ardent environmentalists who feel that a partnership with the local community is the most effective long-term conservation measure to   protect their unique  nature resource-reserve from illegal gold miners, hunters and loggers),  to   develop a  community-based eco-tourism destination business -  centred on their part of the Atewa Range upland evergreen rain forest based on hiking.

Holding  hiking  competitions  through a designated Globally Significant Biodiversity Area (GSBA),   in one of the most beautiful places on the surface of the planet Earth, must be one of the most interestingcorporate team-building bonding exercises that also helps one  keep fit - and a world of difference  away from jogging  along busy  roads in cities and towns with air-quality problems.

By doing some voluntary work at Akyem Juaso,  they could help preserve one of the most beautiful rainforests in Ghana - working with the local community to develop  a green business model that could be used to save other  rainforests in Ghana threatened by illegal gold mining, hunting  and logging.

My blurb for this social enterprise initiative:

Befriend An Upland Evergreen  Rainforest - By Paying To Visit  It!

* Volunteering opportunities to plant trees along streams and extend hiking trails!

* Support a local sustainable economic alternative to illegal gold mining; hunting;  and illegal logging.

* Help save a designated Globally Significant Biodiversity Area (GSBA)  by visiting it.

* Become a lifelong friend to one of the most beautiful places on the surface of the planet Earth.

* Spend quality time with Mother  Nature - in the coolness of the high elevation of a unique upland evergreen rainforest.

* Test your physical  endurance by hiking through trails in the cool fresh air  and wondrous flora and fauna of the Atewa Range.

* Walk through  an  organic cocoa farm.

* Do some birdwatching.

* Get to know different species of trees and plants - including medicinal plants.

* Meet local cocoa-farming community members

* Support  rural   green micro-enterprises!!!


Get in touch with Marian on telephone number: 0244 514 824.

Export Drive To Create Jobs And Wealth In Rural Ghana

A little over two years  ago, I wrote an article  entitled "Let Us Create Africa's Best Business Environment In Ghana".

Little  did I know then,  that I would soon come to see an example of an effort underway by state agencies,  in 160 districts across the country,  to help  create wealth and jobs in rural Ghana.

Today, I am glad to highlight an example from the Ga South District, of some of the interventions that have been put in place at the district level,  to ensure that small and medium scale enterprises engaged in  manufacturing in the Ga South District,   can  thrive - by exporting their products to sister African nations and elsewhere: and by so doing,  help   create  jobs in the Ga South District.

To enable SME's in rural Ghana  benefit from funding from the Export Development and Agricultural Investment Fund (EDAIF), which is meant to encourage the export of non-traditional products, the National Board for Small Scale Industries (NBSSI) is collaborating with the EDAIF in a project to provide district-level SME's with business support services that will  bring them up to a standard  that will enable them benefit from the EDAIF.

In furtherance of that objective, the Weija office of the National Board for Small Scale Industries (NBSSI), which is located in the Ghana Industrial and Commercial Estate (GICEL),  has selected 10 products and 20  manufacturing SME's in the Ga South District producing those products, to which it will provide capacity-building to enable them take up exporting.

It is district-level interventions like that that will help create wealth in our nation and provide employment for our people nationwide.

Kudos to the NBSSI and those in charge of the EDAIF (Ministry of Trade and Industry),  for making it possible for district-level SME's  to build their capacity for leveraging export markets. It will help  transform local economies across rural Ghana - a really welcome development for the enterprise Ghana.

Tel: 027 745 3109.


Nuclear Power: No Unilateral Decisions Without A Proper National Debate

One can understand the energy minister of a nation with a deficit in its power generating capacity, and in which the demand for electricity sometimes outstrips supply at peak periods, being tempted to opt for nuclear power as a panacea for  power outages and rationing electricity.

However, when it comes to the question of nuclear power, it is vital that those running our nation do not fail to take into account our unfortunate history as a people prone to neglecting and  not regularly maintaining vital infrastructure and key installations.

Are we all not witnesses to  the way even  burst sections of water pipelines are routinely ignored for days and weeks on end - instead of being quickly repaired?

Who does not know of street lights  and traffic light poles that are never removed  and replaced when knocked down by vehicles?

And do those in charge of them not invariably fail to  carry out routine inspections of bridges and other public facilities and structures, around the country?

Yes, nuclear power might seem an attractive option, but we must never forget that this is  a nation in which design specifications for government projects are routinely altered - to make it possible for those taking kickbacks to get their 10 percent.

What is the guarantee that it will be any different when it comes to the  design specifications for the construction of a nuclear power plant and radioactive waste storage facilities - and that nuclear power plant contracts   will not be treated in exactly the same fashion that virtually all other government-awarded  contract specifications  are arbitrarily varied in Ghana, I ask?

With respect, no elected politician - backed by a few self-seeking bureaucrats who answer to no one - in a democracy  has the right to take a decision whose consequences are irreversible - and will have an impact on generations of the Ghanaian people  for thousands of years to come.

Surely, a proposal that could impact so negatively on the quality of life of  present and future generations of Ghanaians thousands of years hence, must not be taken lightly - and without ensuring that there is a proper  national conversation about the issue and a consensus arrived at?

For example, what company will build the nuclear plant the energy minister talks about?  Will there be other companies that will also be bidding to build such a plant? How much exactly will the nuclear power plant cost - and where will the money to finance its construction come from,  and on what terms?

It would amount to a crime against the people of Ghana if the desire for kickbacks  were to drive our nation to opt for nuclear power.

As we are all aware,  one of the main reasons why so many people in the wealthiest nations of the world are against nuclear power is that when there is a serious nuclear  accident, the effects of contamination and  radiation poisoning  are so overwhelmingly devastating and life-threatening. Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and  Fukushima are examples that we cannot and must not ignore.

Why bring such troubles upon our people - who put up with the greed, short-sightedness and incompetence of sundry state officials so stoically?

Those who talk about Nkrumah's vision must thank Providence that he did not stay in power long enough to build a nuclear power plant in Ghana.

Who would have dared encroach on the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission's (GAEC)  land in his time? And what engineer would have neglected his duties at the GAEC in his day?

Are engineers at the Volta River Authority,  Gridco and the Electricity Company of Ghana  not in cohorts  with selfish and extremist politicians playing dumsor-dumsor politricks as we speak? Let us be realistic - and serious.

Today, virtually all state employees are on the take and on the make.

How can such a corrupt and dysfunctional society even think about building and maintaining nuclear power plants and radioactive nuclear waste storage facilities - when we cannot even maintain landfill sites using best practice to safeguard and protect underground water from contamination?

Ordinary Ghanaians, who are a sensible people,  will never agree to any power-generating technology  that produces radioactive waste, which  will remain dangerous and life-threatening for over a thousand years to come -  and could make huge swathes of Ghana uninhabitable were there to be a serious accident at a nuclear power plant in Ghana.

We must not allow any unilateral decisions to be taken by a few members of our mostly-corrupt educated urban elites,   committing Ghana to  building a nuclear power plant,  without  a proper national debate on this very important life and death  matter.

Ghana's energy minister, the Hon. F. Kofi Buah must revise his notes quickly on this controversial issue - if he does not want posterity to judge him harshly.

It is him who will be blamed if  disaster struck at a nuclear power plant in Ghana, the decision for the construction of which was mainly his.

If those who advocate this potential disaster,  and lobby on behalf of corrupt foreign corporations seeking to rip-off Ghana, do not want the curses of future generations, they must ensure that  no unilateral decisions are taken in this matter,  without  a proper national debate.  A word to the wise...

Tel: 027 754 3109.

Televising Supreme Court Presidential Election Petition Proceedings Will Not Serve Purposes Of Its Proposers

Author's note: This piece was written on 12/4/2013. It is being posted today, because I was unable to do so on the day. Please read on:

According to their harshest  critics, having now got what they sought, those extremist politicians who originally asked for -  and were seeking to exploit - the live televising and broadcasting of the Supreme Court's hearing  of the presidential election petition challenging the declaration of President Mahama as winner of the December 2012 presidential election by the Electoral Commissioner, will get no political advantage whatsoever from it.

In the view of those critics, unfortunately for the  aforementioned hardline and extremist politicians, the tense atmosphere  in the country no longer persists.

Thus, what was a clever ploy  meant to pour fuel on  the fires of disorder,   will now become a national forum to expose a  falsehood -  specifically designed to facilitate  a hoped for power grab,  with the assistance of  judges they initially thought would be on-side.

Apparently - if those critics are to be believed -  with the exception of the die-hard foot-soldier types used as cannon fodder by cynical politicians,  who were,  and are still disappointed that  their dreams of enriching themselves were dashed in December 2012  - and now vainly hope  their party's candidate will be declared  president by judges - many ordinary people   have come to terms with the fact that someone other than their  preferred  candidate  won the presidential election, and have moved on psychologically.

What the live broadcast of the December 2012 election petition hearings will now apparently do -  contrary to what those who proposed it were said to be hoping for,  in the view of critics -  is that they  will rather make the vast majority of fair-minded and patriotic  Ghanaians even more determined to speak out boldly,  against any political party  and politicians that refuse to accept the verdict of the Supreme Court - to ensure that the country stays peaceful and orderly.

For that reason,  those selfsame critics  predict  that the live  televising and broadcasting of the Supreme Court presidential election petition proceedings will  not serve the purposes  of those who originally  proposed it.

Well, with their outrageous and anti-democratic fulminations  of late, damning ordinary Ghanaians for their apathy in not being angry and predicting violent revolution, surely, that can only be good for Mother Ghana?

Tel: 027 745 3109.

Minister For Lands & Natural Resources: Probe Hagnela Mining Company's Illegal Activities

Author's note: This piece was written on 12/4/2013. It is being posted today because I was unable to do so on the day. Please read on:

Being accustomed to turning disasters into new opportunities, instead of viewing it as a catastrophe, we decided to seize the opportunity to help halt the impunity of the wealthy syndicates behind most of the illegal gold mining and unlawful logging in Akyem Abuakwa , when our  cousins, who own land adjacent to ours at Akyem Juaso,  informed us recently that tenant farmers on their land  had been approached by Hagnela Mining Company Limited,  to mine gold there.

The subsequent communication between our cousins  and Hagnela  Mining Company makes interesting reading - and illustrates perfectly  the mendacity,  utter ruthlessness and unfathomable greed that underpins  the illegal operations of the   wealthy criminal syndicates destroying one of the most important ecosystem services providing areas in Ghana's Eastern Region's forest belt.

The Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, the Hon. Alhaji Inusah Fuseini,  ought to order the Minerals Commission and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)  to carry out an immediate investigation into  the destructive activities of Hagnela  Mining Company  - which falsely claims to have the requisite permits from the EPA and the Minerals Commission in a letter signed by its CEO  - in the area bordering one of the  banks of the Akooso stream,  adjacent to  the P. E. Thompson Estate's  property at Akyem Juaso.

(Luckily for our nation, there is  documentary evidence of those bogus claims of possessing official permits,  made by  Hagnela Mining Company, which  it  cannot possibly deny and disown.)

The question is:  As a society, must we  continue to allow a few wealthy individuals driven purely by  greed,  to end up destroying what is a designated Globally Significant Biodiversity Area (GSBA), which  contains the  watershed for three major river systems (the Densu, the Ayensu and the Birim),   on which a large part of southern urban Ghana (with a population of several millions - including those of  Accra) depends for its drinking-water supply?

Furthermore, as a people, should we allow ourselves to be saddled with   an apocalyptic future nightmare,   purely  for the private financial benefit,  of a few selfish and thoroughly dishonest individuals -  and at the expense of the well-being  of millions;   ensuring a sustainable future for the area at a time of global climate change;  and guaranteeing a sustainable  existence for  future generations,  in an era of global warming? Most certainly not.

We are actually referring to what   is a rare and unique upland evergreen  rainforest full of yet-to-be-discovered medicinal plants;  which  also possesses a wondrous natural beauty that could  sustain a world-class eco-tourism destination business;  and is an important living laboratory for natural sciences researchers from around the globe  - all critical green economic  factors potentially making it  a trillion-cedi sustainable natural asset.

Why should we allow  it to be destroyed by philistines who know the price of gold on a daily basis - but who do not  have the faintest idea of the true value of this priceless gift of nature's  that Providence blessed Akyem Abuakwa and Mother Ghana with?

Perhaps the Hon. Inusah Fuseini ought to go to Akyem Juaso himself,   together with the heads of the Minerals Commission and the EPA - to see for himself the unpardonable and unspeakable  crimes against humanity being committed there  daily by wealthy criminals,  operating without legal regulatory permits:  and busy destroying part of a unique and valuable  upland evergreen rainforest with complete  impunity.

To understand the true  significance and import of what is happening -  in ecological terms -  it is crucial that the minister is made aware of the fact  that  included in the  total freehold landholding of some 14 square miles of upland evergreen rainforest owned by the P. E. Thompson Estate since 1921,   is an  "admitted farm" on which stands a  virgin forest totalling some 99.6 acres,  which is inside the official government Atewa Forest Reserve.

With respect,  this is no degraded  forest now become denuded scrubland that can conveniently be sacrificed in order  to increase the personal net worth of short-sighted and callous individuals - who can see no further than the end of their  noses.

The Hon. Minister for Lands  and Natural Resources must act swiftly before it becomes  too late  to save this important upland evergreen rainforest - and vital ecosystem services provider that is also a GSBA - from being irreparably damaged  by greedy and selfish individuals:  who do not care one jot about the effect of their actions on their fellow humans  and above all on Mother Nature.

Let him instruct the EPA and the Minerals Commission to order an immediate halt to any further mining by the company -  and begin a   multi-agency probe into the illegal  activities of Hagnela Mining Company and all its "co-operator" business partners  at Akyem Juaso now. 

Offshore Bank Accounts Of Corrupt Ghanaian Politicians & Public Officials

Author's note: This piece was written on 11/4/2013. It is being posted today, because I was unable to do so on the day. Please read on:

Over the years since Ghana gained its independence in 1957, corrupt and well-connected  individuals in our country,   have succeeded in squirreling   away illegally earned money,  in offshore bank accounts in tax havens around the world.

Today,  I am sharing a very interesting article that gives one hope that it might soon be possible to expose corrupt Ghanaian politicians and senior public officials,  who have such  tainted funds secreted in tax havens overseas.

The story  is  culled from the online version of the New York Times.

It was  written and published on the 4th of April, 2013, in the  paper's online edition  by   Andrew Higgins -  who reported for the paper  from the Belgian capital of Brussels.

Entitled "Data Leak Shakes Notion of Secret Offshore Havens and, Possibly, Nerves", one hopes it will spur resourceful Ghanaian journalists on, to use their own international networks,  to obtain a list of Ghanaian politicians and senior public officials who are  using special purpose offshore  vehicles,  to hide their illegal earnings in secret  bank accounts  in overseas tax havens.

The coup by the Washington-based group, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, in obtaining such a large  data-dump could give media outlets in Africa the opportunity to name and shame powerful and influential figures on the continent,  who have stashed stolen wealth overseas, for the first time.

Please read on:

"Data Leak Shakes Notion of Secret Offshore Havens and, Possibly, Nerves


Published: April 4, 2013

BRUSSELS — They are a large and diverse group that includes a Spanish heiress; the daughter of the former Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos; and Denise Rich, the former wife of the disgraced trader Marc Rich, who was pardoned by President Bill Clinton. But, according to a trove of secret financial information released Thursday, all have money and share a desire to hide it.

It seems safe to say, they — and thousands of others in Europe and far beyond, in places like Mongolia — are suddenly very anxious after the leak of 2.5 million files detailing the offshore bank accounts and shell companies of wealthy individuals and tax-averse companies.

“There will be people all over the world today who are now scared witless,” said Richard Murphy, research director for Tax Justice Network, a British-based organization that has long campaigned to end the secrecy that surrounds assets held in offshore havens. The leaked files include the names of 4,000 Americans, celebrities as well as more mundane doctors and dentists.

It is not the first time leaks have dented a thick carapace of confidentiality that usually protects the identities of those who stash money in the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Liechtenstein and other havens. Nor, in most cases, is keeping money in such places illegal.

But the enormous size of the data dump obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, a Washington-based group that, along with affiliated news media organizations, announced its coup on Thursday, has punched a big hole in the secrecy that surrounds what the Tax Justice Network estimates are assets worth at least $21 trillion held in offshore havens. “This could be a game-changer,” said Mr. Murphy, the author of a book about offshore tax shelters. “Secrecy is the key product these places sell. Whether you are a criminal laundering money or just someone trying to evade or avoid taxes, secrecy is the one thing you want.” Once this is gone, he added, “it creates an enormous fear factor” and has a “massive deterrent effect.”

And lifting the curtain on the identities of those who keep their money offshore is likely to cause particular anger in austerity-blighted Europe, where governments have been telling people to tighten their belts but have mostly turned a blind eye to wealthier citizens who skirt taxes with help from so-called offshore financial centers.

The leaked records, mainly from the British Virgin Islands, the Cook Islands and Singapore, disclose proprietary information about more than 120,000 offshore companies and trusts and nearly 130,000 individuals and agents, including the wealthiest people in more than 170 countries. Not all of those named necessarily have secret bank accounts, and in some cases only conducted business through companies they control that are registered offshore.

The embarrassment caused by Thursday’s revelations has been particularly acute in France, where the Socialist president, François Hollande, who wants to impose a 75 percent tax on millionaires, has been struggling to contain a political firestorm touched off this week by a former budget minister’s admission — after months of denials — that he had secret foreign bank accounts.

The scandal looked set to widen on Thursday as senior members of the government were forced to confront allegations that Mr. Hollande and others may have been aware that the budget minister, Jérôme Cahuzac, who resigned on March 19, was lying but failed to act.

Adding to the president’s trouble, the name of a close friend and treasurer of his 2012 election campaign, Jean-Jacques Augier, appeared in connection with the files released Thursday by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. Mr. Augier, according to the newspaper Le Monde, was identified as an investor in offshore businesses in the Cayman Islands, another well-known tax haven.

Mr. Augier, a friend of Mr. Hollande’s, denied to Le Monde and Agence France-Presse that he had done anything illegal or improper. He said he had invested in funds that invested in China, and that he had no personal bank account in the Cayman Islands or any direct personal investment there. He conceded only that “maybe I lacked a bit of caution.”

Others identified included Maria Imelda Marcos Manotoc, a provincial governor and eldest daughter of the former Philippine president; Olga Shuvalova, the wife of Russia’s deputy prime minister, Igor Shuvalov; Gunter Sachs, a German playboy and photographer who committed suicide in May 2011 at age 78; and Baroness Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza, Spain’s wealthiest art collector and the widow of a Thyssen steel company billionaire. The president of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, and his wife, Mehriban, were featured in the documents as having set up an offshore company in the British Virgin Islands, while their two daughters appeared in connection with three other offshore outfits.

The consortium did not specify how it got the information or where it came from. On its Web site, the group said “the leaked files provide facts and figures — cash transfers, incorporation dates, links between companies and individuals — that illustrate how offshore financial secrecy has spread aggressively around the globe, allowing the wealthy and the well connected to dodge taxes and fueling corruption and economic woes in rich and poor nations alike.”

In Germany, now gearing up for national elections in September and a country with both a strong sense of social justice and a long history of tax evaders sneaking money into nearby Switzerland, politicians expressed concern, even outrage, over the disclosures. Of particular concern were indications that big banks in Germany and elsewhere are deeply involved in moving money beyond the reach of tax authorities.

“We should introduce tougher penalties for those financial institutions that are ideal for tax fraud or take part in it,” Peer Steinbrück, the Social Democratic Party’s candidate for chancellor, was quoted as saying in the daily newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung.

The issue of tax avoidance has become a highly charged issue across much of Europe, particularly in richer northern countries that are increasingly fed up with demands for bailout money from heavily indebted countries like Greece. A key demand of a recent bailout deal announced for Cyprus was that the nation drastically shrink its role as a financial center and, many in Germany suspect, a haven for money laundering.

Robert Palmer, a policy adviser for Global Witness, a London research group that focuses on corruption, said the naming of offshore account holders could have powerful political reverberations across Europe because “it shows that if you are wealthy and well connected you play by different rules.”

He said the information released so far did not shed any new light on how offshore finance works but was still significant because it identified people who used hidden shelters.

“This is very unusual because it is so difficult to get any information out of these places,” he said. “It adds to the picture of how easy it is to move money around and will build up the anger of people who are being asked to make cuts but see that there are people out there who benefit hugely from the system.”

The disclosure of offshore financial information is also a potential embarrassment for Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain, in that much of the data released so far related to the British Virgin Islands, a British-ruled territory in the Caribbean.

Mr. Cameron had earlier spoken about the importance of tax and financial transparency and pledged to make it a priority issue at a meeting of the leaders of the Group of 8 advanced industrial nations in Northern Ireland in June.

The British Caribbean territory, however, is notoriously secretive and, Mr. Palmer said, one of the most egregious offenders in enabling wealthy people to hide their money to avoid taxes.

In a statement issued Thursday, Global Witness called on Mr. Cameron and fellow Group of 8 leaders to “crack down on anonymous company ownership.”"

End of culled New York Times article by  Andrew Higgins - reporting from the Belgian capital of Brussels.

Steven Erlanger contributed reporting from Paris, and Chris Cottrell from Berlin.

Clearly,  the availability of  secret places for corrupt Africans to hide their ill-gotten wealth has shrunk dramatically in a certain sense - and that can only be good news for the ordinary people of the continent.

Perhaps, finally, the phenomenon of offshore bank accounts for  corrupt Ghanaian politicians and  public officials -   and those of their counterparts across the continent of Africa -  hidden in tax havens around  the globe,    might soon  become a thing of the past. They are now obviously  endangered - and about time too, thank goodness.

Tel: 027 745 3109.

NDC & NPP: Commit To Fighting Corruption

Author's note:This piece was written on  9/4/2013. It is being posted today because I was unable to do so on the day. Please read on:

At 16:12 GMT on the 8th of April,  2013, I received an  email  from a Mr. Joseph Owusu -  who had read a piece I had written,  which  was used that day,  as  commentary by Ghanaweb. It was  entitled: "Can The NPP Offer Ghana Anything Better?"

His rejoinder to that article,  led to an exchange of emails between us.

Mr. Joseph Owusu's passionate patriotism,  ought to be food for thought,  for the  leadership of both the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the New Patriotic Party (NPP).

Judging by Mr. Joseph Owusu's obvious disdain for both political parties, they would be wise  not to take  the many decent men and women in Ghana who lend them their  quiet support,    for granted.

Clearly, it is important for both the NDC and NPP  to  reform themselves.

They must commit themselves to doing something concrete -and radical -   about  rooting out corruption from Ghana.

It is obvious that Ghanaians are thoroughly fed up with the pervasive corruption in the system. Clearly,  it cannot continue to be business as usual - if the NDC and the NPP want to remain viable political parties in Ghana.

To maintain their authenticity, Mr. Joseph Owusu's  emails remain  unedited. Please read on:

Mr. Joseph Owusu's first email:

" Re: thank you for supporting kleptocracy

"are u happy with john "corrupt" mahama? remove your partisan lens and see corruption and high level thievery for what it is. this is the most corrupt regime in the history of our republic. both parties have failed ghana and it's time for our people to start looking for a third force. educated ghanaians like your and me ought to wake up and cry for our country. let's stop being narrow-minded and ignorantly supporting corruption due to party labels and ethnic loyalty. i'm surprised you are not appalled and concerned about what is going on in our country.

is the npp any better? no. but that should not stop you from condemning this kleptomaniac regime. what happened happened to the woyome case? how did mahama's brother borrow huge sums of money, misuse the funds and have the loans written off? do u know about the guninea fowl project? do u know how contracts are awarded and how contractors collude with govt officials to overbill the govt and split the bounty? look, are u being real or you just promoting propaganda? do u care about the future generation and the welfare of ghana?

what's the essence and value of our education if we cannot be honest and objective in our views and analysis? are you on the payroll of this kleptocracy?"

End of Mr. Joseph Owusu's first email.

In reply to his first email above, I sent the reply  below to Mr. Joseph Owusu:

"Many thanks for your email, Joseph. I can see your undoubted concern for our nation's well-being - and respect you for that.

But, no, I am not on the payroll of any political party, Opanin: neither the NDC nor the NPP.

I am also not on the payroll of the other parties in Ghana:  the CPP; GCPP; PNC; and PPP.

My conscience is not for sale at any price, Opanin  - has never been,  and will never be.

Like you, I love Ghana passionately. When you have time read my blog: I think you'll find you've been grossly unfair to me.

My article simply condemns  the attempt at a power-grab by a few  hypocrites - plutocrats masquerading as believers in democracy and the rule of law - who want regime-change willy-nilly.

And from what they say and do, will apparently stop at nothing to bring that about.

I don't buy that stolen election falsehood, as it happens - and have no doubt the Supreme Court will uphold President Mahama's victory.

In a democracy we change governments and leaders through the ballot box.

As for the President's brother and his business affairs, I have no direct knowledge of the allegations you make - so will not venture an opinion.

However, if you bring me incontrovertible proof, I shall make sure the world gets to hear about it.

Yes, there is corruption in our system - and we must expose it whenever and wherever  we come across it.

However,  always keep an open mind,  whenever you hear politicians  making wild allegations of corruption, Joseph - because they are often based on distorted facts and plain falsehood spun by people with an agenda: replacing those in power by all means necessary.

Ghana will move forward and change for the better. We do not need military coups or civil war for that to happen, do we?

Yet,  that's what some apparently want. I don't. Do you?

Anyhow, thank you for your email once again - and peace and blessings to you, Opanin.

Yours in the service of Ghana,


Mr. Joseph Owusu then sent his second email in  reply to my  email above.

Mr. Joseph Owusu's second email:

"Re: thank you for supporting kleptocracy

"i don't care about the election allegations; mahama is staying  till next election in 2016. but if u want to tell me that you dont believe this regime is corrupt, then i dont know what planet u live on. was kufuor's regime? yes they were very disgracefully corrupt. but so is this regime. u have to have the nerve to tell it like it is. forget party labels. the nation and its 24 million people are more important than party labels. you should be bold to call the mahama regime corrupt. your disdain for npp shouldn't stop you from calling out mahama and his band of thieves for what they are. even jj rawlings is very disappointed at the wanton corruption of his own people. wake up kofi! ghana deserves a third force. both parties are rotten to the bone in corruption and are destroying the country."

End of Mr. Joseph Owusu's second and last email.

I then sent the reply below to his second and last email to me:

"Ah, earnest youth. Joseph, if you read my writing, I was amongst the first to call for the Muntakas; Wayomes; and sundry NDC carpetbaggers to be prosecuted.

I have repeatedly called for Mahama and his wife to publicly publish their assets. Ditto NDC ministers.

I have said in the past that it is an outrage that Asiedu Nketia sells blocks to the contractors building the Bui dam; called for Yaw Boateng Gyan to be sacked from his presidential advisor role,  when the scandal of his tape-recorded voice broke -  and God knows what else.

Both the NDC and the NPP hate my guts, as it happens.

I am an environmental activist who is furious that officialdom sleeps -   whiles our natural heritage is thrashed by the selfish and powerful with impunity.

How bold do you want me to be, Opanin? Peace and blessings.

Yours in the service of Ghana,


End of my last and final email to Mr. Joseph Owusu.

Well, it would appear that both the NDC and NPP  are drinking in the Last Chance Saloon. Both political parties  must change -  or gradually become irrelevant and wither away. To survive in the long-term, they must both commit to rooting out corruption from Ghana.  A word to the wise...

Tel: 027 745 3109.

Monday, 8 April 2013

Can The NPP Offer Ghana Anything Better?

There are  some political analysts  who insist  that it was the   extraordinary carelessness of certain key individuals in Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo's inner-circle, which  resulted in the New Patriotic Party (NPP) becoming complacent to a degree that negatively impacted the outcome of the 2012 presidential and parliamentary elections,  for the party.

It   would appear  that those smug individuals - hardliners who have successfully hijacked their party, unfortunately  -  have still not learnt any lessons from their party's December 2012 election debacle.

It seems that it has still not occurred to those too clever by half individuals - as they collaborate with their allies in the professions  employed in the public-sector to "actualise" their plan  to "make Ghana ungovernable" -  that they ought to take into account the opinions of the moderate,  independent-minded and discerning Ghanaians,  whose crucial swing-votes now decide who wins presidential elections in Ghana.

As those fair-minded and nationalistic individuals  observe the ratcheting up of the unremitting and ruthless politricks being deployed by this small group of extremists  in the midst of their main political opponents,  to destroy public confidence in President Mahama and his National Democratic Congress (NDC) administration, a thought keeps recurring to many in this key electoral  demographic.

The question many of those fair-minded and patriotic citizens  often ask themselves is: How curious that those who are so insistent on leading  Ghana,  seldom  focus on telling Ghanaians what  in their view will enable their country overcome its numerous problems,  and improve living standards for the citizenry - but rather choose to expend all their energies in endless criticism of the NDC government:  some  based on half-truths and plain falsehood?

Where, one wonders,  in the endless high-decibel chattering  on the airwaves of Ghana's many television and FM radio stations,   are the NPP's concrete alternative  economic policies, which  will provide the much-needed jobs for Ghana's teeming unemployed young people?

Would such an approach not redound to the NPP's benefit in the December 2016 presidential and parliamentary elections?

Instead of creating a crisis of confidence in Ghana and frightening away potential investors,  who could create jobs for Ghanaians,  why do those who say they love Ghana and must  rule it at all costs,  not rather take advantage of the many opportunities coming their way to  show the kind of leadership they can offer Ghanaians with innovative policy alternatives?

Like their fatally flawed campaign for the December 2012 presidential election, this desperate attempt to win the hearts and minds of Ghanaians - particularly the fair-minded, the discerning and the  independent-minded in our midst - will also fail.

The  government of a President elected to a 4-year tenure, and less than six months in office after his swearing-in, cannot be said to be a failure.

And now that the writing is on the wall, those NPP hardliners who sought  to remove President Mahama from office,  with the help of the Supreme Court, are shifting the goal posts. Again.

Now they are apparently wishing for a military coup. Or, failing that,  a mass uprising of the populace.

Well, let them dream on. Neither will happen. And some of them could end up before the ICC someday too, if they do not stop before it becomes too late to do so.

They know that neither principle nor fairness informs their actions. It is all "political" - to quote a genius. And that is why they will fail again - just as they did in December 2012.

The real truth is that they think it  is an abomination for any of them to be ruled by a northerner. Pure nonsense on bamboo stilts, that antediluvian  notion in 21st century Africa.

They had better get used to the idea: by God's grace, President Mahama and the NDC will rule Ghana for the full four years their tenure lasts for.

As time goes by, the corrupt in high places  will be dealt with. And the rebalancing of the nation's finances will eventually be successful.

Yes, these are hard times for many - but better times will definitely come for all Ghanaians. The President must remain focused and steadfast.

But enough is enough. It is time he stopped trying to be nice to the Gabby Asare Otchere-Darkos of our nation.

He must see them for what they really are: a clear and present danger to Ghanaian democracy - bent on removing him from power through fair or foul means.

Ghanaians and their nation will move on. Those who do not accept electoral defeat in a democracy do not deserve power.

As things currently stand, the NPP as presently constituted (dominated as it is by a small clique of extremists)  definitely does not deserve to be in power. Yes, Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo himself may be  a good and decent gentleman. But  his party  as presently constituted has nothing different or better to offer Ghanaians.

Tel: 027 745 3109.

Parliament Must Lead Fight Against Corruption - To Justify Ex-gratia Payments & Salaries

A friend emailed yesterday (5/4/2013) to say she hoped I would add my voice to the millions of Ghanaians condemning the  "vulgar ex-gratia payments MPs are receiving. Ghanaian mothers and babies are dying due to lack of equipment and poor transport infrastructure while these people shamelessly take money they don't deserve."

I wrote back to say that I had actually written  against it in the past - until I realised a few years ago, that our nation was literally 'owned' by a few powerful and wealthy individuals, some even foreign, who 'controlled' many of our leaders.

In my view, the most effective way to prevent  the powerful  few who seek control over our elected leaders - whichever political party is in  power -  from dominating our democratic nation,  is to make sure that  the honest ones amongst  members of Parliament (and the executive) can live comfortably on their salaries, and also be able to leave office with a resettlement package that gives them a comfortable retirement.

So pay them well,  we must, alas - for the sake of the sustenance of Ghanaian democracy.

If we fail to pay members of Parliament (and the executive) well, some of them might  end up  being bought by vested interests. And that cannot be good for our nation and its people, can it? It is that simple.

It is alleged by some,  for example,  that one of the reasons Vodafone was successful in taking  over Ghana Telecom, was because they paid the majority side in Parliament at the time US$5,000 each -  apparently for staying up late to vote for approval of the agreement by Parliament.

At a time of economic hardship for many, one can understand the sense of outrage felt by  millions of ordinary Ghanaians, when it comes to the   issue of ex-gratia payments recently made to parliamentarians and members of the executive.

However, as long as the constitutional provisions  referring to the subject remain  as they  are at present, we must let our heads rule our hearts,  when it comes to the thorny  issue of ex-gratia payments to members of Parliament and members of the executive.

We must never forget that there are always powerful vested  interests, which  constantly seek to influence legislation and the formulation of government policy in their favour - even to the detriment of ordinary people and the Ghanaian nation-state.

That is why, for example,   today Ghana is  losing  billions of dollars of potential revenue from the production of oil.

Those who negotiated those one-sided oil agreements   did not insist on production-sharing agreements  with  foreign oil companies.

And for their part,  those who signed them,   happily  agreed  to agreements stipulating royalty payments to  Ghana -  in order to benefit personally from those inimical  agreements (it is alleged).

So,  today,  we have what are  undoubtedly some of the worst oil agreements on the surface of the planet Earth in place in Ghana. Pity.

In yet another instance of high-level corruption, a sale and purchase agreement for the sale of the Volta Aluminium Company Limited (VALCO) to a non-existent company, International Aluminium Partners (IAP),   was railroaded through Parliament by the then New Patriotic Party (NPP) parliamentary majority,  led by the Hon. Osei Kyei Mensah-Bonsu, now the Minority Leader in Parliament.

In that shabby and fraudulent deal to rip Ghana off,  those who masterminded it from behind the scenes,  falsely claimed that Norske Hydro of Norway,  and VALE of Brazil, had agreed to buy VALCO.

Yet,  the two companies strenuously denied either being in partnership as International Aluminium Partners,  or ever  agreeing to purchase VALCO.

According to their critics, those behind that IAP fraud were hoping to repeat the sleight of hand that gave two Ghanaians not previously known to US tax authorities   for being wealthy US residents  a stake in oil blocks in oilfields off our shores.

They were  allegedly acting as a front for powerful political interests in Ghana.

Although those two individuals  did not pay even a pesewa upfront, they  ended up with shares in oil blocks in oilfields off our coastline -   merely for helping Kosmos Energy Inc. to  successfully set up in Ghana we are told.

It is because of examples like the above that our nation  must pay members of  the legislature and the executive well -  to prevent  such corrupt,  nation-wrecking and short-changing-Mother-Ghana deals.

If our nation does not  pay those who pass laws in our country,   and those in the executive who formulate  and implement government policies well, some of them will invariably end up doing the bidding of vested interests, to the detriment of ordinary Ghanaians.

For their part, to justify such payments,  parliamentarians  must take the lead in plugging the many holes through which sundry crooks in the  public-sector siphon off taxpayers' money.

Let the relevant Parliamentary Committees  ask the Attorney General's Department to prosecute all those against whom adverse findings have been made in the Auditor General's annual  reports to the  Public Accounts Committee of Parliament.

And to show that they are turning over a new leaf,  and will be more responsible going forward, let Parliament demand that all those alleged to have  stolen public funds,  in the recent scandal to hit  the Ghana Youth Employment and Entrepreneurial Development Agency (GYEEDA), are  swiftly prosecuted and jailed -   to serve as an example to other public servants in Ghana.

The time has come for Ghana's Parliamentarians to find ways of  plugging  all the loopholes through which corrupt  public officials siphon  off taxpayers' money in sundry rip-off schemes.

The Hon. Samuel Okudzato-Ablawkwa's wise suggestion that foreign trips by public servants ought to be vetted, should be acted upon quickly - and Parliament must work with the executive branch of government to do so.

Parliamentarians can  justify the huge sums of  taxpayers' funds expended on them,  by taking the lead in ending public-sector corruption in Ghana. A word to the wise...

Tel:027 745 3109.

Supreme Court Verdict: Violence Will Lead Politicians To ICC

Author's note: This piece was written on 30/3/2013. It is being posted today because I was unable to do so on the day. Please read on:

When all they are doing,  is said to amount  to  merely playing politics, there is nothing more despicable  than  clever people seeking  to subvert the will of the people, by clothing themselves with high-sounding principle -  to make their sinister enterprise appear  noble and respectable to decent people.

The question is: What moral right do those extremist politicians (from across the spectrum) threatening  to take our nation over the precipice have,  to risk the peace and stability of Ghana, in pursuit of naked and selfish ambition - threatening the future and  collective well-being of millions of families,   whose only prayer is that God grants their nation's political class the wisdom never to destroy Ghana:  by allowing it to descend into violence and chaos?

Today,  there are concerned patriots who insist that our nation is being held to ransom by hypocrites playing politics to feed their massive egos - and secretly dreaming of sending  their personal net worth into the stratosphere:  at ordinary  Ghanaians' expense.

They accuse those hypocrites  of glibly   mouthing  noble phrases and empty platitudes,  which  they lack the moral-fibre  to justify using,  as  the justification   for their unreasonableness -  in seeking power through  means other than  the ballot-box:    exploiting legal technicalities to attempt a power-grab by stealth,  after glaringly losing a free and fair election.

Perhaps those uncharitable  critics might be a tad unfair - but their opinions are  out there in the open nonetheless.

Clearly,  judging from the results of their  policies whiles in office - since the promulgation of the 1992 constitution -  many politicians  seek power not to bring about rule by saints.

Otherwise,  why,  during the election campaign for the December 2012 elections,  did we never once hear leading members of the two main parties, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the New Patriotic Party (NPP),    state unambiguously that they would publicly publish  their assets as well as that of their spouses, before assuming office and at their tenures' end?

And why did both parties  not swiftly follow the example of Paa Kwesi Nduom's Progressive Peoples Party - and publicly  publish  the sources of their parties'  campaign funds for the December 2012 presidential and parliamentary elections,  too?

Why did both main parties  also never once breathe  a word  about reforming many aspects of the public-purse-draining entitlement culture of our educated urban elites - such as  the daylight robbery that the payment of obscene sums in compensation packages (including  Arabian-oil-Sheik-type perks)  to the  boards and top management of so many public entities,  represents, I ask?

Are the cynics in our midst not therefore right,  in asserting that the  plain truth is that nothing much in Ghana would have changed,  had the results of the December 2012 presidential election gone in favour of the candidate of the main opposition party the NPP?

Would we not in all probability have  ended up being  given  the usual excuses by their new administration too that the previous regime had destroyed  the economic prospects of Ghana - and that it would take at least a decade to clear up the mess their opponents had left behind: just the exact length of time  the party's presidential candidate had once said it would take to transform Ghana economically?

So why burn Ghana because this time round too the NPP's candidate  did not win an election that many independent observers acclaim for its fairness and for being free?  And,  after all, could  he too not be third time lucky like the late President Mills was in the end,  when he finally won in December 2008?

Well, we  all know that it is not ordinary people who will resort to violence at the behest of ruthless paymasters to destabalise Ghana after the Supreme Court eventually delivers its judgement.

Those who will carry out acts of violence around the country,  will be the armies of mostly  conscienceless self-seekers,  who do not know the meaning of the phrase  "sacrifice for the common-weal" - the confounded  foot soldiers of political parties: each with a secret personal agenda to rip Ghana off successfully,  with their paymasters obligingly looking the other way.

So let no politician  who will direct and coordinate foot soldiers to go on the rampage -  when the Supreme Court announces its decision after the hearing of the election petition by  the NPP's  presidential candidate challenging the result of  the December 2012 election is concluded -  think for one moment that decent-minded Ghanaian nationalists will sit unconcerned,  and allow them to escape appearing on the radar of the International Criminal Court (ICC),  for the crimes against humanity, which  lighting the flames  of widespread conflict in Ghana will  amount to.

The ICC awaits all politicians in Ghana planning violence,  who when the Supreme Court announces its verdict,  intend to unleash  those blinkered  myrmidon-types -  whose idea of democracy is a mental outlook that makes them say in response to every wrongdoing by political parties and politicians: "My-party-my-tribe-right-or-
wrong" - to cause mayhem in our dear nation.

With respect, no politician  - whichever political party he or she  belongs  to  - will be allowed to set Ghana ablaze and get away scot-free -  without facing the ICC's prosecutors and appearing before its  judges at The Hague.

No Ghanaian politician's personal ambition to be president -  be it President Mahama's, Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo's, Paa Kwesi Nduom's or the  feisty Madam Akua Donkor's    - is worth destroying Ghana for. Period.

For their information,  the days of impunity in Africa,  amongst the continent's politicians,  are long gone.

Is Liberia's former leader Charles Taylor not  living proof of that reality -  incarcerated as he is in  his UN jail cell  in The Hague: despite once feeling he was a Master of the Universe and invincible?  That is why none of Ghana's politicians  who is sane must  ever tempt fate.   A word to the wise...

Tel: 027 745 3109.