The announcement of the proposal by the Government of the NDC, that the Ghana Army will now be the vehicle for the restitution of the Kumasi Shoe Factory is the most eloquent and unequivocal admission by the Government that the divestiture and abandonment of public investments in the manufacturing and agricultural sectors wrecked the economy and undermined our industrialization efforts.
The policy also ensured that we fulfilled the neo-colonialist objective that we remained a peasant economy and a market for their manufactured exports.
The Defense Minister referred to his initiative as part of his government's new approach to public sector reforms to create jobs for the youth to "avoid the problem of engaging themselves in social vices such as robbery". The Convention People’s Party (CPP), salutes the General for his admission that the abandonment of our investments in the industrial sector led to loss of employment and that the revival of the factory will restore jobs for the youth.
The CPP would however wish to point out that the divestiture programme pursued by the NDC and NPP governments has caused incalculable damage to the fabric of our society. Families of redundant and redeployed employees of the abandoned and divested companies became destitute and some workers died in poverty and penury.
The CPP in this respect wish to draw the attention of the Government to the fact that the starting point for the revival of the Kumasi Shoe Factory is to ensure that the unfortunate workers and families get justice; Their end of service benefits should be paid to them or their families with the same alacrity and haste as in the case of members of parliament. This is fair on account of the fact that they were not just mere workers but shareholders whose taxes financed the investment.
We protest in strongest terms, the involvement of the military in financial and industrial enterprises. The concentration of military power and finance in the military could be a dangerous development in our political economy that should be avoided. The military should be limited to its core functions. The disproportionate role of the military in the political economy of nations such as Egypt and Turkey has been a source of destabilization in those countries. Ghana should not prop the military in this direction. We therefore call on the President of the Republic of Ghana to take immediate steps to halt the military takeover of the Kumasi Shoe Factory.
The Defense Industries Holding Company (DIHOC) is a page from the CPP concept of the Ghana Industrial Holding Corporation (GIHOC) and so what is required is the acceptance of the propriety and validity of the CPP policy of state intervention to develop the manufacturing and private sectors of the economy. In this respect DIHOC should be an industrial development initiative of the Government of Ghana and appropriately re-named GIHOC.
It will be appropriate and indicative of the penitence of NDC for their role in the unpatriotic divestiture programme, particularly the infamous sale of the Nsawam Cannery Division of GIHOC to the family of their father and founder via the 31st December Women's Movement. We anticipate that the NPP will also in time be repentant and recant their role in the economic subversive enterprise that derailed our industrialization efforts.
The initiative also portrays the NDC as a counterfeit and pseudo Nkrumaist party devoid of Nkrumaist development policy guidelines for the reconstruction of post colonial economies that informs project identifications. The DIHOC investment does not appreciate the CPP objective that the Kumasi Shoe Factory was part of a holistic import substitution investment in the livestock industry to secure an internally sustained industry which apart from creating jobs, was to contribute to the eradication of the structural external trade deficit of the economy. The composite investments included the Leather and Tanning Factory in Kumasi that was to supply the raw material requirements of the Shoe Factory.
The Aveyime Cattle Ranch that was to supply its products to the Bolgatanga Meat Factory that was in turn to supply the raw material of the Leather and Tanning Factory. These investments were also an initiative in regional trade and co-operation between Ghana and Burkina Faso that was to complement the supply of cattle to the meat factory in exchange for grazing fields. It is obvious now that the NDC government does not know the road to a "Better Ghana"
The CPP calls on the Government to review in this context the revival of the Kumasi Shoe Factory and come up with a comprehensive investment plan that relates fundamentally to external trade deficit reduction. This is critical and important because the efforts of the P/ NDC and NPP governments to achieve this end by spending cuts and tax hikes have failed in a cumulative twenty seven years from what is known in Ghana economic language as "external shocks", that is an euphemism for reduction in external trade receipts and/or increase in import expenditure.
The lesson of "external shocks" points to the efficacy, and relevance of the CPP development strategy of import substitution, value addition and export diversification investments to resolve the structural external trade deficit that is the source of our poverty, indebtedness and under-development.
We commend the Defense Minister for the initiative, the shortcomings notwithstanding, but our begging question is the industrialization policy of the Government and why it should be the job of a Defense Minister to make this initiative in industrialization when there is a supposedly competent and responsible Minister of Trade and Industry? There is only one option left for her in all these.
She should resign her appointment without hesitation. Or are we crying in the rain because African ministers do not give up their juicy offices even when their failures are patently evident?
Finally, the government should endeavour to clean up its act by removing the many financial and transactional cobwebs in what could be a commendable state intervention in industrial and private sector development.
Ekow Duncan, CPP Shadow Cabinet Member for Political Affairs.
Political Affairs Secretariat, CPP.
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