Sunday, February 10, 2008

Kuffuor's last budget

Permit space in your esteemed magazine for this reaction to your story: ‘ Kuffuor’s last budget’ NA, December 2007, p98.

I am a witness to the Kuffuor’s government spewing meaningless macro-economic gibberish for seven years running, while the lots of Ghanaians sank under his tutelage. An African saying has it that: “ye gods, if you cannot cure me, leave me the way you met me.” It is difficult to find areas to score the administration of President Kuffuor high.

Not satisfied with imposing a ‘Jurassic economy’ on his people, President Kuffuor went ahead and made his proud country embraced the insulting Highly Indebted and Poor Country (HIPC) programmes of the Bretton Wood institutions. He then turned around to refurbish his presidential cavalcade with expensive 4-wheel jeeps. It remains unfathomable to me why the leader of a HIPC country doesn’t see the irony in begging\borrowing money to live like an imperial president. And to crown his insensitivity to the plight of his compatriots, the President went ahead and borrowed money for a new Presidential Palace (of all things!) whilst the nation is plunged into darkness, due to electricity failure!

Under President Kuffuor’s watch, the once highly efficient and well disciplined Ghana Security Services (Immigration, Police and Customs) have been reduced to shameless bribe-takers like their counterparts in West Africa. It was also under Kuffuor’s watch that Ghana became a major hard drug transit nation. And it was also under him that scandals involving billions of cedis become almost a norm. As the Kuffuor government and its quangos continue to celebrate themselves, the number of Ghanaians selling junks in the traffic of Accra and other Ghanaian cities keep swelling. Electricity and water supplies are certainly in worse shape today than they were before the Kuffuor’s administration. It’s sad, really.

Now let’s take the very fraudulent claim that inflation has been reduced. Below are some figures we can use to contest the dubious claim:

ITEM PRICE (2000) PRICE (2007)

Candle 250 1,200

Gari (per Olonka) 2,500 12,000

Maize (per bag) 50,000 250,000

Kerosene (per gallon) 5,000 28,900

Ga Kenkey 500 2,000

Satchet (‘pure’) Water 100 500

Whilst in opposition the President led a demonstration against the price of petroleum which was then six thousand cedis a gallon. Today, it is priced at forty-six thousand cedis!

It is possible that President Kuffuor and his Ministers have their own special market, since they appeared so thoroughly cushioned against the hardship that is the lot of the ordinary Ghanaian. What’s most galling is that amidst the indescribable hardship, the elite have introduced a culture of shameless wealth-flaunting: the number of siren-blaring cars on Ghana’s road today is simply beyond belief.

Ghana from North to South is dripping literally with gold and other mineral resources, how do we then account for the vast poverty in the land! Instead of President Kuffuor listening to his ‘friends in the West,’ he could have listened to one Ghanaian – Cameron Duodu who suggested in one of his write-up that commodity producing countries should form cartels to fix the prices of their produces. Ghana and her neighbor, Cote d’Ivoire, together accounts for 59% of world’s cocoa production. If we throw in Nigeria’s 5% (source:, West African nations can easily form an OPEC-like organization to start the eminently sensible idea of setting the prices of the produce of their labour. Alas, President Kuffuor apparently firmly subscribe to the ‘without the West, Africa is lost’ doctrine.

If President Kuffuor’s domestic policies stinks, his foreign policy really sucks! Under his watch, the birthplace of Kwame Nkrumah has been turned into a virtual vassal state of Western imperialism. Ghana is today littered with every description of Western NGOs. Nothing better illustrates President Kuffuor’s discontent from those whom he governs than his sartorial faux pas on Ghana 50th anniversary celebration. On the greatest occasion to showcase the Black star of Africa, out came President Kuffuor dressed like a London banker in a three-piece suit. A pathetic, even nauseating sight! It reminds one of Fanon ‘Black skin, white mask’. And to his eternal discredit, President Kuffuor will go down in history as one of those who betrayed Africa’s interests by signing the notorious EPA which many African nations have condemned.

After twenty or so years of so-called democracy, it is time African leaders start delivering on the economic front. We have no business living in the paradoxical world whereby we sit on vast God-given resources, while our people continue to live like the wretched of the earth. Given leaders with vision and care, we can lift our people from abject poverty in a short time as others have done.

Fanciful macro economic statistics might look good on budgetary speeches, but as Franklin D. Roosevelt succinctly put it, “But while they prate of economic laws, men and women are starving. We must lay hold of the fact that economic laws are not made by nature. They are made by human beings.”

Let me end this piece with a quotation from Professor Adebayo Adedeji which every African leader should take to heart: “Any economy theory that impoverishes people is doomed to failure.”

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