Tuesday, 29 April 2014

List All Of Ghana's Banking Industry's Non-Core Services

If ever there was a stage in Ghana's history, thus far, when it needed to mobilise savings for national development, this must be it. Alas,  as a lower middle-income nation, Ghana no longer qualifies for concessionary loans.

 We therefore need to become a nation of regular savers - whose aggregated savings can be harnessed by banks for onward lending to businesses and individual entrepreneurs. It would be disastrous for our national economy, were  potential savers to elect to stash their cash under mattresses - and in safes at home and inside their business premises.

That is why nothing must be done to erode public confidence in banks in Ghana. Yet,   there are many ordinary people in Ghana, who use banks,  who  are now confused about what precisely constitutes non-core services rendered by banks, and which will now attract a value added tax (VAT) rate of 17.5%.

If that confusion is allowed to persist, it will eventually  lead to the closure of many savings accounts  in banks across the country - by savers scandalised that  profligate politicians now propose to tax hard-earned cash in personal savings accounts, put aside by thrifty folk, for a rainy day: as well as tax funds in current accounts and bank loans.

To prevent such a run on banks from occuring in widespread fashion,  the authorities must list (item by item) all the VAT-rated non-core services delivered by banks in Ghana, without exception - and ensure that that information is disseminated nationwide by the press and electronic media.

It is unfortunate that a measure that was never meant to be applied to savings accounts, current accounts and bank loans, was not explained properly to the general public - and apparently not even to the banks: if what some of them say is to be believed.

To ensure that there is no confusion when the measure finally takes effect, a list of every non-core service performed by banks in Ghana, which will now attract 17.5% VAT, must be displayed prominently in all branches of banks,  savings and loans companies and other micro-credit firms in Ghana.

And to avoid any ambiguities,  a separate list of the zero-rated core-services performed by banks, which will not attract any VAT, must also be displayed in those selfsame branches. Banks play an important role in our economy,  by mobilising savings for the financing of projects - and for that reason it is  vital that  nothing is done to erode public confidence in them. A word to the wise.

Saturday, 26 April 2014

Xi Xiahai's Sunon Asogli Power Company's Coal-Fired Power Plant Will Not Be Good For Ghana

It is a measure of the calibre of some of the geniuses who run our country that at a time when  global climate change is impacting Ghana negatively, the Sunon Asogli Power Company's Chinese board chairperson, Mr. Xi Xiahai, can confidently state that his company will be permitted to build a coal-fired power plant in Ghana. Incredible.

 How can that be? And how can the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) justify this outrage? How foolish and  ignorant Mr. Xi Xiahai and his ilk  must think Ghanaians are. Pity.

 No doubt he will dangle the fool's-gold-carrot of "sophisticated filtration systems" to trap particulants and other pollutants in the smoke belching out from the cone towers of his coal-fired power stations,  in front of  the too-clever-by-half, self-seeking senior public servants and see-no-evil-hear-no-evil  politicians (both in the executive and the legislature), who profit mightily from selliing Ghana short.

Well, those so-called sophisticated filtration systems have not made the slightest bit of  difference to the air-quality in Beijing and the many Chinese cities whose hapless  inhabitants are forced to put up with very poor air quality - that is health-damaging in the extreme - on a daily basis. That is why China is spending billions of dollars increasing its renewable power generating capacity.

It  is time those who currently lead our country understood that they ought to  be extremely wary of the senior public servants whose  job it is to advise them -  if they want to be returned to power again in 2016. There is absolutely no sense in allowing the  Sunon Asogli Power Company and the Volta Aluminium Company Limited (VALCO) - or any other company for that matter -  to build coal-fired power plants in Ghana.

The government of President Mahama was not elected to sanction the building of health-destroying dirty power plants anywhere in our country. To do so would be a grave error of judgement that they will come to rue one day - as sure as day follows night.

 When the effects of the pollution caused by such a power plant begins to affect the quality of  the air around the area it is located in, and residents begin to protest loudly that it is damaging their health, it will be pointed to by their political opponents,  as yet another example of poor  judgement, by an incompetent regime.

 The  energy ministry's  ministerial team ought to  ask their  advisors to tell them precisely how the air in  Beijing and so many other major Chinese cities ended up becoming so badly polluted - to the extent that it is now destroying the health of millions of their inhabitants, as well as lowering the quality of life in cities across a vast swathe of the landmass of China.

 Some of us are getting tired of being led by provincial-minded  politicians (from across the spectrum: egregious examples being the Allottey Jacobs of the National Democratic Congress, and the Antwi Bosiako Wuntumis and Sammy Awukus, of the New Patriotic Party) whom  it appears  haven't the foggiest idea about the dangers inherent in the phenomenon of global climate change - and the threat it  poses to the well-being of Mother Ghana and the Ghanaian people.

 This is an existential matter that  concerns  present  and future generations of the Ghanaian people - in case that has not yet dawned on those geniuses. Our ruling elites  are relatively  well-compensated for a reason:  so that they will take well-thought-through decisions that redound to the benefit of  our nation and all its people, at all material times.

With respect, we demand that the ministerial team at the energy ministry,  requests that  Ghana's ambassador to Belgium invites GDF SUEZ Trading (+32567321) and Geldof (+32567321) to visit Ghana, as soon as practicable - to make a presentation to the government: about the Electrabel Rodenhuise 100℅ biomass power plant.

Mr. Xi Xiahai and his  Ghanaian partners should be invited to sit in on that presentation too. Ditto the Volta River Authority and the other independent power producers in Ghana. It will be an eye-opener for all of them.

 For their information, the Electrabel Rodenhuise biomass plant was converted from burning coal to wood pellets - and now  produces renewable energy from wood fuel. The conversion from coal to biomass means avoiding 1.2 million tonnes of CO2 emissions a year. And the power it generates is cheaper than it previously was when the plant used coal. Food for thought - in a nation whose hard-done-by and overtaxed citizens are desperate for not-so-expensive  electricity.

 The government of Ghana ought to ask the Sunon Asogli Power Company to collaborate with Geldof and GDF SUEZ Trading to build a 100% biomass power plant in Ghana. Mr. Xi Xiahai's confounded coal-fired power plants are not good for Ghana. Period. And no power company must be allowed to build coal-fired power plants anywhere in Ghana.

The energy ministry's ministerial team must ask the Sunon Asogli Power Company's chairperson, Mr. Xi Xiahai,  and his Ghanaian partners to study the Green Max European project to convert fossil-fueled thermal power plants to 100℅ biomass. The  Sunon Asogli Power Company can save itself the hundreds of millions of dollars it proposes  to invest in  building  a dedicated port to handle imported coal -  were  it to adopt the Green Max biomass business model.

If they do so, instead of bringing a dirty power plant to pollute Ghana, they will produce renewable power with a green supply chain based on  community agro-forestry  plantations of fast-growing trees countrywide, which will create wealth for rural Ghana and enable District Assemblies across Ghana to have a reliable revenue stream based on job-creating  sustainable development throughout rural Ghana.

If they are not yet aware of it, the  energy ministry's ministerial team is becoming notorious for daft decisions that are not in the long-term interest of Ghana and its people - and the blame can be laid firmly at the doorstep of the senior public servants who advise them. Their dealings with the corrupt  and opaque Rusatom is a classic example. Mt. Xi Xiahai's Sunon  Asogli  Power Company must not be allowed to build coal-fired power plants anywhere  in Ghana. It will not be in the long-term interest of our homeland Ghana and its people. A word to the wise...

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Ghana Is An African Paradise

Our nation's many problems notwithstanding,  compared to many nations in Africa, Ghana is a real paradise. It is a veritable beacon of hope in the continent.

Caught in a  massive traffic jam on Easter Monday that stretched all the way from White Cross - three minutes by car along the Mallam-Kasoa highway after crossing  the bridge over the River Densu - to the Bortianor junction traffic lights near the old police barrier, I was struck by the many happy young people singing and clapping their hands exuberantly, in jam-packed minibus, after jam-packed minibus. Ditto jam-packed  taxi,  after jam-packed  taxi.

Most of them  were on their way to the beach resorts at Bortianor. Their zest for life was palpable. Their happiness, infectious. Your average Ghanaian works hard and plays hard. This is an aspirational society in which citizens constantly seek to better their lot. Long may it remain so.

And the fact that in the African context, this is a relatively prosperous country, despite its many difficulties, was evidenced by the many new saloon cars and SUV's  inching their way forward, after every few minutes of waiting, in the heavy traffic - their occupants cocooned in air-conditioned comfort.

As in other parts of Accra, many  new buildings have sprung up in the area - including a privately-owned  specialist hospital,  a plethora of banks, a pizza restaurant and  a Silverbird cinema complex.

 A  €256,885 Ghanaian private-sector credit facility from the Italian government has given a new lease of life to the refurbished Phastor concrete products factory at the entrance to Sampah Valley, near the turning I took to get me back home to McCarthy Hill again -  just before the Bortianor junction traffic lights.

Yet,  anyone who has ever watched and listened  to the endless negativity that is standard fare for current affairs discussion programmes  on television and the many FM radio stations in Ghana, would find it hard to believe that the doom-filled talking-heads who take part in those programmes, actually live in the same country with those  fun-loving young merrymakers on their way to the seaside on Easter Monday.

Watching those happy younger generation Ghanaians - lucky to  have been born, and to have grown up, in a free and peaceful society in Africa - enjoying themselves, I could not help but think of the senseless killings in strife-torn places like the Central African Republic, South Sudan and areas in Nigeria that have suffered from the unspeakable cruelty of Boko Haram,  and contrasting that with the high-spirited young fellow citizens enjoying their Easter Monday holiday trip to the beach in our stable multi-party democracy.

We tend to take a lot for granted in Ghana. It is true that many families are going through hard times.  That unfortunate situation results partly from the effects of the  cyclical nature of trade between interdependent national economies in an era of globalisation. The optimism and good-natured  fun-seeking of the  younger generations shows their confidence in Ghana's future.

 The nation's long-suffering middle-classes, keen to protect the value of their expensive homes and sheltered lifestyles in gated communities, act as ballast. Their moderating influence (vital to protecting their diversified investment portfolios) will contine to keep the country stable.

 Members of our political class (from across the spectrum) would be wise to end their negativity and focus their energies instead on working hard to create the conditions that will  ensure a prosperous future for our homeland Ghana.

A little less high-level corruption amongst our ruling elites would also be welcomed by all Ghanaians. Ditto less pointless ruling-regime propaganda and more attention paid to the task of  fixing the hobbled economy - brought low by reckless government spending during the 2012 presidential and parliamentary elections, and the 70% of total tax revenues paid to a mostly-unproductive public-sector workforce.

Above all, Ghanaians expect those in  leadership positions in  their country,  to commit themselves to ensuring that Ghana continues to be peaceful  and remains an  African paradise. They must not fail us in that regard. A word to the wise...

Monday, 21 April 2014

Build High-Capacity Wood Pellet Biomass Power Plants In Ghana

It has become increasingly difficult for ordinary households  to put up  with the never-ending power outages and escalating electricity prices in Ghana. The people of Ghana definitely  deserve better. Their patience is wearing thin by the day. Literally.

 Whether the problems  are systemic,  or result from sabotage by anti-regime elements working in the power sector - who are apparently doing the bidding of their political paymasters: according to the conspiracy theorists in our midst - the power sector's deficiencies need tackling. This is the 21st century, is it not?

Ghana cannot grow its economy and create jobs without reliable and sufficient electricity. That is why our ruling elites need to be a tad more imaginative in their approach to resolving the problem of inefficient electricity provision  for domestic and industrial usage in our country.

Faced with the spiralling cost of oil to fire its power plants - and in the  absence of a  more reliable source of natural gas - one wonders why the geniuses who manage the  Volta River Authority (VRA) are  not following the example of those who manage  the Drax coal-fired power plant near the UK town of  Selby.

 In April 2013, one of the Drax power plant's generating units,  was converted to biomass. Wood pellets are shipped across the Atlantic from the U.S. as feedstock for the converted biomass unit. That is an example wood pellet exporters from Ghana could emulate right across Europe - and help strengthen our currency in the process.

By 2016 the Drax power station will have a total of three units  running exclusively on  biomass. The coal-fired Drax plant supplies 7 percent of the UK's electricity. When it converts the total of 3 biomass plants by 2016, the Drax plant will burn 7 million tonnes of wood pellets a year.

If the VRA also had biomass power plants using wood pellets, could  plantations of fast-growing trees like teak not be planted up and down Ghana,  by District Assemblies, in partnership with private-sector entities,  to supply pellets to those  biomass power plants - creating a valuable supply-chain footprint  over much of  rural Ghana?

And would that not create worthwhile jobs for tens of thousands of  unemployed young people across the Ghanaian  countryside: who could drive trucks; legally fell trees with chainsaws in plantation thinning exercises; operate mobile wood pellet machines onsite in tree  plantations; sun-dry wood pellets; etc.  - and also  generate funds for development projects in cash-strapped district assemblies up and down Ghana?

The governent ought to float part of its 100 percent shareholding in the VRA on the Ghana Stock Exchange (GSE) - and use the interest-free cash raised in the IPO to build biomass power plants.

That will be a more sustainable business model for the public-sector power generating utilities in an age of high oil prices and unreliable natural gas supply sources.

And at a time when hard-pressed electricity users in Ghana are fed up with ever-increasing power tariffs, it will lead to lower electricity prices and more reliable power generation by the VRA.

We need to start planning for the construction of  high-capacity wood pellet biomass power plants in Ghana. Today, not tomorrow. It is a perfect type of renewable energy for Ghana.

And now that  global climate change is negatively impacting our country, it is a low-carbon, clean-development power-sector  business model, which makes a great deal of sense for a largely agricultural country such as ours. One hopes our hard-of-hearing ruling elites  will listen to good advice,  offered freely,  for patriotic reasons, for once. A word to the wise...

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Let Us Save Remainder Of Akyem Abuakwa's Natural Heritage

One of the tragedies of our time,  is the destruction of so much of the natural heritage, of Akyem Abuakwa,  in Ghana's Eastern Region.

 Much of that destruction,  has occurred as a result of an unholy alliance, between a syndicate of wealthy rogues engaged in illegal gold mining (galamsey) and illegal logging, and a number of hypocritcal individuals amongst the progeny of the pre-colonial traditional ruling elites in the area.

 President Mahama surveyed the area from the air recently, when he flew from the Afram plains to Akyem Abuakwa,  in a Ghana Air Force helicopter. So shocked was the President,  by the environmental degradation he witnessed that he later told a public gathering at Kyebi that the area he saw from the air, had to be the galamsey capital of Ghana.

 Instead of being offended by the verbal description of  an unpleasant reality that confronts visitors to Akyem Abuakwa daily, today, those of us who love the upland evergreen rainforest in the Atewa Range, must accept that there has been massive degradation of the natural environment in Akyem Abuakwa - and that we must take active steps to repair that damage.

 We must also not forget that we are ranged against  powerful, cunning  and ruthless adversaries. An example of what we face is the outrageous story of how the clever  and dissembling promoters of Solar Mining Company bought respectability, and got away with the company's illegal mining activities, by reversing into a then bankrupt
Kibi Goldfields.

Kibi Goldfields is apparently owned by Ambassador Budu Saaka - who was  appointed as an ambassador by the late President Mills. 10 percent of its shareholding is said to be in the hands of the traditional authorities of Akyem Abuakwa. Such is the incestous nature of our byzantine system.

The question is: how did a bankrupt gold mining company hold on to its concession for so many years without it ever being cancelled and withdrawn - and has Kibi Goldfields paid its reclamation bond upfront since Solar Mining Company became a "co-operator" and revived it phoenix-like: and in such  carpetbagger fashion?

Kibi Goldfields' environmental impact assessment document, which Solar Mining Company submitted to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on the co-operating conspirators' behalf, is a study in garnished-mendacity and barefaced cheek, cooked up by gifted Kweku Ananse storytellers.

They presented its readers with a falsehood:  an airbrushed  picture of an  environment consisting largely of marginal land and badly degraded forests in which gold mining could be carried out in good conscience. Yet, the reality is that Kibi Goldfields is actually engaged in the rape of valuable  land in the forest-belt providing  vital ecosystem services for most of southern urban Ghana.

 And the destruction even extends to ecologically sensitive areas, with the designation Globally Significant Biodiversity Area (GBSA) -  which hold the headwaters of three major river systems: the Birim, the Ayensu and the Densu. Those three important rivers provide the drinking water supply of many towns and cities across southern Ghana, including Accra, the nation's  capital.

Today, as we speak, Solar Mining Company's wealthy owners, who grew wings when the price of gold spiked to dizzying heights, are busy terrorising poor cocoa farmers in Saamang and its environs, who refuse to allow their farmlands to be taken over for gold mining - allegedly with the active connivance of district-level officialdom: threatening withdrawal of funding for local development projects if  they don't relent.

Luckily, their cause is being championed by the anti-mining NGO, WACAM, which has taken Solar Mining Company to court on their behalf, with legal assistance  from the Centre for Public Interest Law (CPIL).

Few in Ghana know the area as well as some of us do. And as someone whose family has owned a total of 14 square miles of a freehold parcel of upland evergreen forestland in the Atewa Range since 1921,  I do know for a fact that in as far as areas around the world that have the  designation Globally Significant Biodiversity Area (GSBA) are concerned, parts of Akyem Abuakwa could actually be described as global ecological-blackspots of wanton environmental degradation.  And it is of apocalyptic proportions, if truth be told.

 It is a pity that it never once occurred to the genuises in charge of media relations at the presidency, to organise a helicopter trip around Akyem Abuakwa for the Ghanaian  media, to enable them take aerial photographs and record video footage of the destruction wrought by the unfathomable greed that drives the selfish individuals whose ruthless  quest for gold has caused so much harm to Akyem Abuakwa's natural heritage.

It is only when that is done that Ghanaians will be able to decide the truth for themselves - after viewing the shocking aerial  photographs and video footage - about  the exact scale and egregious nature of the destruction caused by illegal  gold mining and illegal logging in Akyem Abuakwa.

 It is still not too late for that to be done, incidentally. The world must know the truth about the brutal gang-rape of Mother Nature in Akyem Abuakwa. It is only such openess that will shame the hypocrites profiting from what is an unspeakable and abominable  crime against humanity.

What those who object to the description of the area as the galamsey capital of Ghana need to understand, is that it is simply a call for action from all those who want to use the natural heritage of Akyem  Abuakwa to develop and grow a sustainable green economic alternative to the illegal gold mining and illegal logging that goes on daily in Akyem Abuakwa.

The Atewa Range upland evergreen rainforest could become a national park and world-class eco-tourism destination providing valuable jobs and micro-entrepreneurial opportunities for thousands of local people - and serve as an important living laboratory for field-study trips by academic researchers from around the globe.

Let us focus on that goal - and at a time when global climate change is impacting our country negatively, work hard to save the remainder of Akyem Abuakwa's natural heritage. The Dutch government has promised to provide US$2 million to help turn the Atewa Forest Reserve and the slopes around it into a national park - if all mining is banned from the area.

The time to act is now. This is no time to be engaging in pointless shouting matches about the scale of the destruction wrought by illegal gold miners  and illegal loggers in Akyem  Abuakwa. The truth of the matter, is that the widespread environmental degradation caused by those funding the  galamsey operations  and illegal logging,  can be seen by all who visit the area - with the exception of the visually challenged. It is time we united to  save what is left of Akyem Abuakwa's natural heritage. A word to the wise...

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Time To Review All Ghana's Oil Agreements

Ghana needs to take a leaf from the book of the government of President Alpha Conde of Guinea - by taking a fresh look at all the oil agreements it has entered into thus far.

 President Alpha Conde's government set up a committee - shortly after it came to power as Guinea's first democratically elected regime - to examine all mining agreements,  entered into by previous regimes. In its final report, the committee recommended the cancellation of an agreement between the regime of the late military ruler of Guinea,  President Lansana Conte, and BSG Resources, a company owned by Beny Steinmetz, the Israeli billionaire.

Incredibly, that agreement granted two iron ore mining concessions for deposits worth billions of dollars,  beneath the Simandou mountains, to BSG Resources. During the committee's investigations, it  came to light that the agreement was obtained, as a result of the payment of bribes to a number of influential individuals, including Mamadie Toure, the late President Conte's wife, by intermediaries of Beny Steinmetz.

BSG Resources sold 51℅ of the huge Simandou mountains iron  ore deposits for US$2.5 billion to Vale of Brazil - after reportedly investing  US$165 million in exploration of the area.

 Most of the evidence against BSG Resources was gathered by the US Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), during investigations into the affairs of Frederick Cilins, an associate of Beny Steinmetz - who was being investigated by the FBI for breaching the foreign corrupt practices act. The FBI passed the information on to the Guinean government committee.

Cilins apparently paid US$3 million to Mamadie Toure in 2006. She also signed a contract to receive a further US$5 million in 2010. It is astonishing that massive  iron ore deposits worth billions of dollars, and the exploitation of which  could yield valuable revenue that could be used to improve the lives of ordinary people in Guinea,  were handed over a foreign entity - because a small group of powerful and greedy individuals in a corrupt African regime received a few million dollars as bribe money.

It is to the eternal credit of President Alpha Conde that this egregious rip-off of the people of Guinea has now been reversed.

If only our ruling elites were equally as nationalistic and honest - and  moved swiftly to demand a review of the rip-off oil agreements between Ghana and foreign oil companies: which the vast majority of ordinary people believe were fraudulently obtained as a result of the payment of  bribes to a few dishonest, selfish and greedy Ghanaians.

 As we all know, the late President Mills turned down the offer of a bribe,  from the executives of an American oil company,  who called on him at the Osu Castle - then Ghana's seat of government. So we can put two and two together - and draw our own conclusions.

It is an indictment of our ruling elites that over a thirty-year period, out of  oil and gas deposits worth some US$160 billions, all that  Ghana will receive is a paltry US$20 billions.

Yet, Ghana is  a nation that is desperate to find money to fund the provision of affordable housing for the not-so-well-off amongst its people; pay for the expansion and modernisation of its infrastructure;  as well as provide free healthcare, and free  education from kindergarten to tertiary level,  for its people.

Meanwhile, over the same thirty-year period,  foreign oil companies will receive some US$140 billions -  after investing no more than US$15 billion between them at the most.

How can that be - and why are our hard-of-hearing  ruling elites still not taking active steps to end this monstrous and abominable rip-off? It is intolerable that inimical oil agreements, deliberately entered into by a few Ghanaians because it benefited them personally, are being allowed to stand -  when the nation is in such dire financial straits. And we must not forget that Ghana also has a mountain of debt to pay off.

Do our ruling elites not realise that  production-sharing agreements that give Ghana 70℅, and 30℅ to the foreign oil companies,  could fund the transformation of Ghana into a prosperous African equivalent,  of the egalitarian societies of Scandinavia - and end the unimaginable hardship being endured by  ordinary people in Ghana?

The time has now come for Ghana to review all the oil agreements it has entered into,  to date. The foreign oil companies must understand that no African democracy will survive if poverty remains the lot of ordinary people for decades. Revenues from the exploitation of our nation's oil and gas deposits must pay for ordinary people's share of the  democracy-dividend. Period.

The foreign oil companies need  to take a long-term view,  and accept that new production sharing agreements giving Ghana 70% of those US$160 billions that its oil and gas deposits are worth, will be fair to all parties - and in their own interest too. As sure as day follows night, if they do not end their greedy ways, a Colonel Gaddafi-type leader will eventually emerge in Ghana - and tear up all those inimical rip-off oil agreements and impose new ones on them: to popular acclaim.  A word to the wise...

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Humble Advice To The Hon. Mahama Ayariga

 Ghana's minister for information and  media relations, the Honourable Mahama Ayariga,  appears to be out of touch with the realities faced by ordinary people in Ghana. And Ghana is not alone in having such out-of-touch politicians in government. Unfortunately, they exist throughout Africa.

Yet, seldom has the need for selfless, visionary and competent leadership,  been of  more urgency in Africa. With global climate change making a complete nonsense of weather patterns, and endangering crop yields, populations across Africa have become increasingly  vulnerable - as food security is threatened  throughout the continent.

For many in Africa, the future looks bleak - as the major food producing regions across the world are also being impacted negatively by global climate change: and crop yields fall there too. It will lead to high prices globally for major staples such as rice, wheat and corn.

Against that backdrop, it is important for politicians in Ghana to offer honest  leadership that understands clearly that ordinary people's individual experiences, in cost-of-living terms, as they struggle daily to survive, inform their view of the state of the national economy - not statistics churned out by clever politicians to support Alice-in-wonderland-claims about the state of the econony.

What your average citizen wants,  is to live in a nation in which affordable  healthcare is available countrywide - and that has an economy that provides  jobs, which enable them to house, clothe and feed their families; educate their wards; pay their bills;  and save for the future.

No amount of statistics bandied about by politicians to support claims that the economy is doing well, when it is not the case in the real everday world, will convince ordinary people - if their individual experiences clearly  tell them that they are facing  hard times.

 The Hon. Mahama Ayariga and those Ghanaian politicians - across the spectrum: as the opposition New Patriotic Party also has its fair share of such individuals too  - who think like him, must never forget that.

 If the Hon. Mahama Ayariga wants to help the ruling party - that he is such a prominent member of - he must think up initiatives that will help  alleviate poverty in rural Ghana.

With respect, for his information,  an example  that will enable his government  create jobs and wealth, in much of  rural southern  Ghana, is the use of coir-fibre from coconuts to produce high-value high-density binderless boards, in local factories,  for the building and packaging industries - both for domestic markets and for export.

Such initiatives, not propaganda and sophistry, will save his party from defeat  in the 2016 presidential and parliamentary elections.

 The Hon. Mahama Ayariga can ask the ministerial team at the  ministry of trade and industry to get the National Board for Small Scale Industries (NBSSI), and the Building Research Institute (BRI) of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), to collaborate with the Wageningen  UR of Holland's research team headed by Dr. Jan van Dam,  to replicate its ecocoboard project in the Philipinnes, in the Ellembelle  District  -  as well as other coconut-growing districts in southern Ghana.

It  is a perfect rural poverty-alleviation and wealth-creation initiative - that is bound to give his party enough votes in rural Ghana to enable it win the 2016 presidential and parliamentary elections comfortably. In a nation full of wide-awake citizens - fed up with having to make never-ending sacrifices for the common good, but seldom receiving any tangible benefits in return - dissimulating about the national economy will definitely not win his party those crucial elections, which will determine the future direction  of our homeland Ghana.  A word to the wise...