The prospects of the Ghanaian Cedi against other international currencies looms like a spectre over both our economy and our national politics.
Our governments continuously parade the corridors of the IMF among other institutions and this is a clear indication that our dear country still has a long way to go to free herself from the ‘status quo’ of depending on aid. Such aid is subsequently mismanaged.
As a country celebrating 61 years of independence, my research has shown that we are still far from answering the simple question of: when will we take control of our affairs although we are endowed with the natural resources that are the envy of other countries?.
It is no secret that the pressure is constantly building and the Ghanaian is increasingly feeling very despondent especially with regard to prospects of landing a job, ability to pay for utilities and even more disturbing, the number of people constantly struggling to pay for the roof over their heads. Unfortunately, high unemployment has also been a neighbour for far too long and has to be addressed by Ghanaians. The solution should be a philosophy rather than a programme or project.
In a recent interview on nurses agitations over lack of jobs, I suggested that government could make it a law for every company employing enough staff to form a local union to have a Sick Bay manned by at least two nurses. This, I think, will address employee health issues and at the same time offer jobsfor the qualified nurses. I believe one can imagine the number of nurses that could be employed….however, the question of sustainability in such a move, I will leave for another day.
We live in a country where there are no good signs of us significantly reducing public debts, reducing the number of rural residents living in poverty and where real incomes keep falling all because we have not been innovative and have mismanaged fiscal systems including foreign aid. We have failed, as a country, to increase market access to investment in the service and manufacturing sectors although we have the power so to do!
My humble question has always been that, why is it so hard to turn things around for the better in Ghana?
I always attempt to answer the question myself and have come to the conclusion that politically-led policymaking focuses on solving the problems that are felt in the present and might be expressed at the ballot box. It is much concerned with the near-term future and not at all concerned with the long term. Politicians are getting away with this because we, the people, are not asking relevant questions.
Our dear nation needs a successful change, which demands a destination to guide our direction and to bring the country together with a common purpose; we need a shared ,comparable vision as a country. We need to bring together a broad cross-section of Ghanaian businessmen, trade unions, civil society and academia, which will be a true reflection of 21st Century Ghana, to set out a fresh vision for the Ghanaian economy that joins prosperity with justice and projects the common good. I believe if we adopt a non-partisan approach in our endeavours, it will help us achieve a lot in this regard.
More Importantly, most people in Ghana want an economy that creates broadly equitably shared prosperity that is balanced across households and regions and that is environmentally suitable. The Ghanaians want to experience an economy that works for everyone and strengthens the public goods and facilities we share in common; an economy that safeguards the future and enriches the present. That is why now is the moment for major reforms to Ghana’s economy to be proposed, dissected, debated and adopted and the ‘Ghana Beyond Aid’ call by President Akufo-Addo should be no different.
The real lesson of these turbulent political times is that the economy does not belong exclusively to those at the top of it, whether in business, government or society. It belongs to us all. If we do not like the way it is working, we need to assert our collective power to change it; starting from ‘Ghana Beyond Aid Mismanagement’ before arriving at ‘Ghana Beyond Some Aid’.
Let us all as a people, with confidence, courage and hard work, set aside partisanship to help us dispassionately discuss and overcome obstacles and press ahead with a spirit aimed at achieving progress and stability. These will be the sine qua non for ensuring economic and social development in Ghana.
It is about time we get our economy to serve our society!
Ambassador Horace Nii Ayi Ankrah