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A Case For Ghana Government Reform Or Privatization   
 
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08-Jul-2011  
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The Government of Ghana has demonstrated, since independence that several functions could be better run by private enterprise, at local
level or discontinued. Recent reports about corruption in all sectors of the Ghanaian government underscore the need to take critical look at reinventing Ghana government not only on constitutional reform but in governance and accountability.

This article is intended to initiate a debate or discussion about privatizing or reforming several key areas of the executive branches of the Ghanaian government; among them are sports, transportation, law
enforcement, water supply, waste management, tourism, local government, information and controversial and sensitive education sector. I believe others may add to the list, but this is just a start of the discussion.

Where do we start? A constitution is supposed to establish a vision, mission, guiding principles, goals, policies and programs that benefit and protect all members of a community, country, organization or institution. The current Ghanaian constitution does not provide equal right, protection and benefit for all Ghanaians. As George Owen wrote in his book entitled Animal Farm “All men are created equal, but some are more equal than others”. There is no true separation of power among the three institutions of government namely the legislature, executive and the judiciary in Ghana. A parliamentarian serves as member of the executive at the same time. The judiciary does not prosecute corruption to the extent of the law due to perceived political ramifications and unethical behaviors. The citizens do not have the ability to choose their local, district or municipal chief executives. Who makes decision at the local level is dictated by the central government through the control and command colonial legacy.

First, Ghana needs a true constitutional review and development of a long term (20, 30, 40 or 50 years) vision for the country by
parliament and implemented by the executive branch. Breach of the vision by any arm of government should be prosecuted by the judicial branch. No government should abandon the work of its predecessor and start a new one for political gains.

Second, there should be a national referendum on local government
management. The citizens or all jurisdiction should be allowed to decide whether the local government executives be elected by the citizen of the jurisdiction or appointment by the national government. Current incidence of protects by the foot soldiers and other assembly members against appointed DCE’s is a testimony that the practice of appointing DCE’s are out of favor with the people in modern democracy: Thus the command and control legacy of colonialism is over.

Third, many executive branches and government institutions could benefit from major reforms or complete privatization. Many Ghana National Corporations ( GNTC, State Hotels Corporation, Ghana Food
Distribution Corporation, Ghana Airways and Railways, etc ) established after independence failed to deliver, and had since been shot down due to mismanagement and corruption of the government employees. The Governments of the 4th Republic have divestiture many state enterprises to make them profitable again and created employment and economic development in many parts of the country.
Ghana Investment Promotion Center and Expert Promotion Council have been instrumental in luring more private sector investments to revive some of these failing government corporations.

Now What? It is time to take stock of other sectors of the government and develop bold strategies to make them more functional to benefit the people of Ghana, and not a small section of the upper elite or
connected groups. Many lucrative industries are still controlled by the government, but yet they are money losing operations. Many reports and evidences point to corruption, mismanagement and lack of accountability and transparency. Other activities do not need a Ghana government involvement at all.

Opportunities:

1. Payment of fees and charges for government Services: The current practices of cash and carry at government institutions must be abolished. These practices allow staff to have millions of cedis at
hand in the offices and work places, and opened the doors for thievery and corruption. Several organizations including private schools and foreign embassies have set up bank accounts to
allow fees to be paid directly into the institutions’ accounts. We are in a modern technology age and the government must use these technologies to pay its bills and salaries of employees. Government should work with Banks to promote paperless transaction and checking account.

2. Transportation: It is evident that State Transportation Corporation and Metro buses cannot compete with the private
Inter-city buses and Tro-Tros despite the huge sums of money that the
government pumps into STC and Metro. There is no motivation or incentives for STC to innovate and be profitable because the staff salaries do not come from bus fares. Government should get out of this business and spend the money to provide infrastructures such as dedicated bus lanes, stations and fixed guarded rail for light rails and trains in the metro areas. Ghana Airways died but the private airlines are still thriving in Ghana. Should Ghana government jump back into the air travel business? The answer is “Hell NO”!

3. Tourism: Why does Ghana has a Ministry of Tourism
and Tourist Board? Tourism is a commercial activity providing services, recreational and cultural opportunities, entertainment and allied services that generate significant revenues and employment. It should be part of the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, and Tourist Board be made an agency or Department of Ministry of Industry and Commerce.

4. Sports: Why do we have a Sports Ministry? Ghana Football Association is doing all the planning, development and implementing all the football programs including international assignments. There are similar organizations for Olympics, Boxing, Track and Field, etc. These bodies are independent and should be independent to plan, develop and operate. Why are Youth and Sports Ministry? The ministry of sports has done nothing to bring up educated, healthy and productive citizens out of the youth. Youth sporting and physical
and health educational needs should be handled through the Ministry of
Education. There youth employment program outside the Sports Ministry. There is Ministry of Social Welfare to cater for the welfare and emotional needs of youth and families.

5. Water and Sanitation: Since Zoom Lion assumed the cleaning of streets and management of waste there has been some improvement in
the environment in some areas. However, there is more to be done. There is a huge employment and economic opportunities in waste management from recycling, composting, transportation, logistics etc.

The Ghana Water Company is not position to provide potable water for all Ghanaians. Water in life, and can prevent many communicable diseases in the system. The introduction of bored holes and small town water projects has helped it little bit. However, there are some problems with individual bored holes because of the location of the bored holes in close proximity to sanitary soak-aways, or drain fields. Ghana need to look at introducing community water supply structures whereby gated communities, educational institutions, hospitals and any like minded residents team up and
develop a single system from deep bored hole, and supply/pipe the water to homes of members of the community. This is what is called the Public Utility Districts (PUD) in the USA. These systems
could be managed as non-profit cooperative, or for profit BOT (build, operate and transfer) agreement. This will decentralize water supply and take a huge burden off the GWC and government and improve the lives of all Ghanaians.

6. Traffic Law Enforcement: Everyone knows that the motor traffic unit of the Ghana Law Enforcement system is broken and needs major reform to make our roads safe. Bribery in the MTU has risen to the point of national joke. A bold solution would institute some incentives and rewards to motivate the officers on the road to do their job effectively. There should be carrot and stick approach to rewarding or dissuading police officers on the road. MTU must give each officer on duty a quota to issue a traffic infraction
ticket which is reported at the end of the day. The violating driver must pay the fine at a designated bank and bring the receipt to the traffic court as proof of payment.

If the driver does not believe he/she committed the infraction, they can contest the fine in traffic court. The police officers should be paid bonuses according to how many citations they issue each year. Individuals should be rewarded with better working conditions, equipments, uniforms, better living conditions or even a patrol car to make them more effective and efficient. This is practiced in other countries to make the roads safer and police work more rewarding. Those police who fail to deliver should be reassigned and eventually removed. Also local governments should be allowed to establish their own traffic safety enforcement units to keep local roads safe.

7. Information: Recent utterances of the information deputy minister of information are clear indication that the ministry in nothing, but a propaganda machine of the presidency. This is work for a presidential spokesperson. Every ministry has public relations office charged with disseminating information to the public about the agency’s programs and services. The ministry of information has no use in today Ghana. Information ministry has long outlived its purpose when access to media was non-existence in the good old days.

8. Education: Everybody knows the deplorable conditions of our public schools system. The school system has become a political football with exponential failing rate such that private schools arebecoming a big business in Ghana. Back in the days when even the Presidents and
the wealthiest people all took their children to public schools. The schools used to be run by Local Government and so they were called Local Authority (L/A). It was local control and without partisan politics. Everyone knew education was a constitutional right and therefore did not mess with it. Today, educating our children has become a political game. Each government sets its own graduation target, and this is causing many children to sit home and do
nothing. Graduating a person at the age of 15 should be a crime and not tolerated in any civilized society. All children must have at least 12 years of education to Senior Secondary level as they are 18 years old, and can enter the work force and vote.

This is a challenge to all Ghanaians to ask themselves, ask the current government including civil servants, aspiring 2012 candidates, the parliamentarians and judiciary how they intend to address the issues or rebut, if they don’t believe they are national priorities. THANKS FOR YOUR INPUT AND PARTICIPATION IN THE DIALOGUE.


 
 
Source: Kwadwo Fordjour
 
 

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