The former President of Ghana,Dr.Hilla Liman,was said to have told representatives of IMF/World-Bank, at a meeting with representatives of these institutions during his short-lived administration, that he doesn’t know anything about balancing a budget but he knows it when the ordinary man is feeling the pangs of hunger in his stomach.Apparently,the man had just taken office after the 1979 coup and he had so much to do in calming down the socio-economic appetite of the citizenry and these Briton-woods institution, instead of giving the man a little breathing space to get his foot on the ground, were rather on his neck with issues of balancing the already non-existent economy.
As a result, the man couldn’t make any connection between the so-called balancing of a budget and the expectations of the people.Hence, his outburst at those Breton-Woods folks to go and jump into the Pacific Ocean.
The man ended up being a one-term president, not because the people didn’t like him, but because his performance had fallen way below the probation standard of Rawlings.He was overthrown in a military coup and Ghanaians were put through a harrowing experience of military rule for 11years, after which democratic rule was again restored in 1992.Since then, budgets have been read every year, promising to turn Ghana into the likes of America, Switzerland and so on.
By the year 200 mantra
I very well remember the phrase ministers of Rawlings administration, in the mid-90’s,always spiced-up their public pronouncements with “by the year 2000”.So for example; you will hear my grand old Mama, Mary grant who was the health minister, always saying at durbar grounds that “there will be health for all by the year 200”.A minister of education will say “education for all by the year 2000”,agric minister will say “food for all by the year 2000”,water&sewrage minister will say “water for all by the year 2000” and so on. I guess they were making all those pronouncements with the firm belief that the world was probably going to end at the turn of the millennium so they simply went on strange promising spree because that day wasn’t going to materialize anyway.
I left the shores of Ghana just after that massive ‘kumipreko’ demonstration which I participated in. I lived at Tema at the time and was commuting to my work-place at the Radiology Department of Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital. On the day of ‘kumipreko’,I was on my was to work and when I reached the Kwame Nkrumah circle, the whole area had been taken over by demonstrators.
Private transport operators had all abandoned their vehicles and joined the procession so there were even no cars to convey passengers to their various destinations. As a result, I had no choice but to join the procession and ended up walking from the Kwame Nkrumah circle through UTC, Akoto-Lante and finally to my work-place at Korle-Bu.
Patients who were brought to our department on that day were all victims of CDR and ACDR senseless attacks. Talking about bullet wounds, broken-bones, buffed cheeks with missing teeth and so on. We did what was professionally possible to help all those injured people.
Dr.Kwesi Botchwey’s fearsome budgets
Now, during the reign of P (NDC), anytime the budget was to read, the whole Ghanaian populace had their hearts in their mouths. People became so fearful of budget presentations largely due to the fact that increases in prices of fuel were reserved for those infamous occasions. Those were the days even ‘trotro’ and taxi fares were captured in the budget statements. So each time Dr.Kwesi Botchwey was delivering the budget statement, people would be listening alright but all their attention would be focused on the section where percentage rise in fuel prices were captured.
This ritual went on, even after the exit of the dreaded Dr.Kwesi Botchwey until the NPP took power in the year 2000 and decided to de-regulate the fixing of fuel prices. In otherwords, that scare once associated with budget statements because of announcements of fuel price adjustments, was completely demystified to the point where people could go about their normal duties on budget days.
The hungrily angry taxi-driver
Now, a day after the presentation of the latest budget of Atta-Mills’ administration which has fittingly been christened “nantsew yie budget”, I had to pick some friends who were coming home from America, at the Airport. And because of the traffic jam on that stretch of road at the time of the day, I decided to set off a bit early. And on my way to the Airport, the taxi driver overheard me talking to my friends who were coming down and after my telephone conversation; the driver asked if I could help him travel to America.
So I asked him why he wants to travel to America when Ghana is now an oil economy, and that, a budget that gives so much hope to all Ghanaians had just been read and he still hobours the desire to abandon such a heavenly prospect for a struggle in a foreign land.
And to tell you the truth, the youngman was so disappointed with my pronouncement. So I asked him why he was that angry with such a good advise And his answer was that, the budget I was describing as that of hope, if it offers anything all, would be just another year of, in the words of the youngman; “okom,ahohahaa,nkukubo,obrehu na ahokyir fitaaaa”.He said taxi drivers actually decided to vote for Atta-Mills in 2008 because they thought their socio-economic well-being was going to be lifted,dramatically,to that of Americans,British,German,Saudis and so on.
He said what candidate Atta-Mills made them to believe it was economic woes under the Kufuor administration, were in reality, a blessing from heaven when compared to the suffering he has been going through since the inception of the Mills-Mahama administration. But in my genuine attempt to convince the youngman,I told him that the finance minster says 2012 will be a good year for all Ghanaians, and that, there is even going to be a one-time premium for NHIS.
Who owns Star Assurance Company?
When I finished saying that, the youngman took a very stern look at me and said, ei, papayi paaa, ensan se woti aborokyir nti, wodze nsem dzi agoro paa ooo’, se wonim senia nipa ho der noa, nkye wonnkeka nsem wei’.And out of nowhere, the youngman posed a question to me that “doesn’t star assurance belong to the finance minister, Dr.Kwabena Duffuor?
I was taken aback by the essence of that question so I asked him why that question. But he insisted that I answered him. So I had no choice but to answer in the affirmative. He then took out his car’s insurance documents, put them on my lap and asked me to check which insurance company it was. I checked and told him it was Star Assurance Company and he asked whether I knew the owner of that company. I told him that has absolutely nothing to do with me so he should just collect back his insurance papers and leave me alone but he insisted I told him who the owner of the company was.
One-time premium with Star Assurance Company?
So I said it belongs to Dr.Kwabena Duffuor and the gentleman was suddenly overtaken by a hysterical laughter. I was really shocked for his reaction just at the hearing of the finance minster’s name. But wait a minute: the gentleman surely knew why he was laughing. He said if Dr.Kwabena Duffour is convinced that an insurance entity can actually operate successfully by a one-time premium, then why doesn’t he let the clients of his insurance company (Star Assurance) also pay a one-time premium since he would then be proving to all ‘doubting Thomases’ that such practice is possible?
Effectively, what this taxi driver is saying is: though Dr.Kwabena Duffuor says there’ll be one-time premium for NHIS next year, he owns an insurance company which is not operating this one-time premium because he knows very well that it is absolutely impossible to do so.Therefore, if there is a possibility that an insurance establishment can survive on a one-time premium, then he must prove it to the good people of Ghana, by first implementing it in his own insurance company. Charity begins at home, so the saying goes!!!
I then realized that the Atta-Mills-led administration, that lied its way to power, and is still under the illusion that governance is all about insipid propaganda and foolishly foolish foolishness of denigrating images of those whose simply propound policy alternatives, that the ordinary Ghanaian has seen through all their deception.
Propaganda brewed in ‘Togolese’ pot
And to rub more salt into the current socio-economic wounds of the ordinary Ghanaian,Fifi Kwetey(an alleged Togolese national from Aneho),was on 19/11/11 edition of Joy-Fm’s news-analysis progrogramme,News-File,and in his characteristic propagandist foolishness, continued blaming their failure to deliver on their illusionist campaign promises, on a so-called debt left behind by the NPP.
However, when it comes to buying fuel-guzzling V-8 landcruisers, chichinga, pampas, humpers, frivilous foreign trips and other ‘edufudze’, including even condoms to go after prostitutes, you will never hear them talking about debt they inherited.Personally,I have never heard Fifi Kwetey discussing matters of finance. All his pronouncements are just like that of a senseless propagandist, irrespective of the fact that he is drawing astronomic wages for his ‘begye kodzidzi’ appointment.
Justice Abeeku Newton-Offei
NOTE: pt.2 of ‘Will prisoners save Atta-Mills from annihilation’ comes your way next week.