When we read that Ghana was knocking on the doors of IMF for 100 million dollars to tackle the coronavirus crisis, we fell into despondency and wept for this country. Is this not the economy that our leaders have touted as robust and resilient? Is this not the same government that had said many times during national events and preached on many international platforms how this nation should go beyond aid? We ask, if Ghana cannot raise just 100 million dollars in crisis like this and must run to the IMF for aid, then where is the future of this nation? Ghana had not been saving anything for her citizens in situations like these? Canada is giving her citizens, 2000 USD a month up to four months for workers who lose their income due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The White House in the USA is giving 1000 USD checks to adult Americans and 500 USD per child. The government of Kenya had also announced 10 billion Kenyan Shillings (100 million USD equivalent) to the elderly, orphans and other vulnerable members of the society in this heinous period. Similar measures are taken in the New Zealand and Germany. None of these countries called on the doors of IMF to save their nations at this critical period apart from Ghana.
If only the proposed IMF 100 million dollars loan is sought for fighting this pandemic during such emergency period, then we the people from the Centre for Better Society Advocacy and Research Africa (CEBSAR-AFRICA) propose that we fall on our heritage fund and set up a bipartisan team of experts to oversee the utilisation of this money in tackling this pandemic to assure the public that this money will be put into good use and will not be diverted into any other wasteful expenditures. There should be a consensus before this fund could be accessed. Because we need two-thirds of members of parliament to agree to reallocate monies in this heritage fund and no party has absolute majority currently. Nobody anticipated this virus to be pandemic and we are in crisis and falling on this fund at this critical moment of our nation is not a misplaced priority. We cannot always keep borrowing to leave huge debts for future generations.
Simply put and in encapsulation, we do not need loans. Prudent use of the already existing resources, getting results, without cutting corners and avoiding wastage in our dealings are what we need. We cannot misappropriate funds entrusted in our care and expect to turn things around for the greater good of the people here. We cannot mismanage our resources and expect to achieve ground-breaking results. We cannot continue to do business as usual politics and expect different results. Let’s prioritize, let’s recalculate and rearrange the way we do our things here, and let’s block all avenues that leak money from the system. Further, CEBSAR-AFRICA proposes that the following measures, going forward will abet current, successive governments and the nation to save enough funds for future emergency periods like these:
- Scrape ex-gratia and payment of gratuities to former ministers of states and members of parliament. This system is unfair and does not guarantee equity, justice and fair distribution of the national cake. No one retires more than twice in his or her lifetime. The payment of these ex-gratia should be scrapped with immediate effect and the money used for the greater good of all Ghanaian citizens and get our problems fixed here.
- Reduce government expenditure on things that siphon money out of state’s coffers.
- Cut down expenses and work with modest budgets.
- Reduce the size of government. Deputies could simply be scraped and done away with. Ghana, with a population of almost 30 million has 112 ministers and it is reportedly the largest in Africa. The huge government workforce is reported to consume 70 percent of Ghana’s budget.
- Stop buying cars and vehicles for ministries and institutions.
- No need to put ministers of states and government appointees in V8s and other luxurious heavily expensive vehicles. We do not have money, we are owing and we got debts to pay. A modest price vehicle will do.
- Criminalize and BLOCK corruption
- Use state’s money and funds for intended purpose
- Make politics less attractive by paying and putting ministers, MPs on salaries just as any other civil servants. We need to pay them salaries and let them use their own salaries to cater for utilities. Salaries that commensurate with their qualification and output (productivity).