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Feature: A Big Hole In The Ordinary Man’s Pocket   
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Experience should teach the teams which put together and present our national budget that the economic vocabulary and jokes mean nothing to the ordinary man.

All he wants to hear is whether prices of commodities are within his reach to enable him feed his family. I mean the “bread and butter” issues are what concern him.

There is too much talk about creating thousand jobs through a number of initiatives and interventions in agriculture, education, construction and manufacturing. These are not things that will yield immediate results.

Therefore he puts his ear to the ground to find out whether he would be able to buy rice, sugar, vegetable oil, mackerel, tin tomato, baby food etc when a budget is read. His expectation of celebrating interesting Eid Ul Adha and Christmas was turned into sorrow when Dr. Kwabena Duffuor announced that the interventions made under the Kufuor administration because of world economic crisis would be removed as of January 2010.

By late November 18, 2009 afternoon the bad news of reduction in import exemptions by at least 20 percent from its 2009 levels were adversely affecting him. Traders in this country will jump at the least opportunity to increase prices of their wares. What the ordinary man did not take lightly was the minister’s remarks that the caring president wants him to enjoy his Christmas! Already prices are outrageous and the traders have increased them because of his announcement.

Another area of the budget that has shocked the ordinary man is an introduction of a bi-annual vehicle registration. The reasons for this are linked to security and good road usage though the basic idea is to raise revenue.

Commercial vehicle owners are going to demand higher sales which will in turn result in drivers over speeding to make extra income. This will lead into more road accidents. Is this not a clever way of
taking back from worker the little salary increases under the Single Spine Salary Structure which the
government says it will implement in 2010?

The Government knows full well that the SSSS cannot bear fruits even months into next year and yet it goes ahead to create an impression that the ordinary man will experience something good in his pocket soon. Where will the public servant get money to do the bi-annual registration. Is he not indirectly been pushed to engage in bribery and corruption?

NGRAT executive and members accused the NPP government of insensitivity to the plight. It even accused the GNAT leadership of “going to bed” with that government. Then candidate Mills supported the association’s cause and assured them, that as a teacher himself, he knew their problems. He promised them better working conditions and a good pay.

But the teachers’ president has slashed their car maintenance allowance from c40 to c7 and reduced responsibility allowance from c1 to 30p!!! NGRAT has given notice to strike and the Labour Commission says it has no knowledge of any negotiations insisting that any strike action would be illegal.

The NGRAT’s Upper West Regional chairman says months of empty talk and dishonesty have convinced him and his members that nothing could deter them from embarking on their action.

The public is disappointed with the former central bank governor who has become an expert in blaming the previous government while the people suffer. Even some NDC supporters got angry when he spent about 14 first paragraphs of his presentation cataloging mistakes of the past eight years.

Not taking it kindly and determined to get their share of what they fought for, the party’s Greater Accra Regional constituency executives and foot soldiers held a meeting with their founder. The fallout from the said meeting seemed to have scared Uncle Fiifi.

Unable to withstand the strong words from various angles in his own party especially former president Rawlings, the president has issued a statement through his press secretary directing all government appointees to create space for party supporters at national, regional and district levels!!!!

The ordinary man’s front has been divided. NDC foot soldiers and other party supporters are to be given preferential treatment over everybody in this country. Are we going to witness the sharing of commodities and other things to the NDC supporters?

It is taking the ordinary a long time to learn lessons but he appears to be getting wiser. Speak to him and he will tell you no government thinks of him and so he must devise ways of solving his own problems instead of looking up to politicians who keep misleading him.

Former president Kufuor spent eight years compiling beautiful lists of the unemployed hoping that as the economy became stronger, the ordinary man would benefit. Notwithstanding problems associated with the NHIS and NYEP it brought jobs to the ordinary man.

Will the politicization of these programmes not destroy them? What is preventing President Mills from inviting those who contested with him to devise a national economic policy?

Going it alone has not helped matters because the appointees in his party do not necessarily have answers to most of the difficult questions. Pride and self-interest make it impossible for his advisers to accommodate differing views from their own party. The controversies and contradictions in our governance show that we lack vision. Majority of our people are confused. Only God knows where this country is heading towards.

When the NDC took over from the NPP, there was a small hole in the ordinary man’s pocket. Now however, the hole has become bigger. Unless something miraculous happens to our economy within the next two months, which I doubt it would, there will be no pocket for President Mills to put money in.
Source: The Mail

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