There is a saying “The King is dead: Long live the King.” When a king dies, the State does not cease to exist. Another king immediately takes over and national life continues. In the same way, the life of the nation does not cease, even temporarily, by changes at elections.
We have an NDC administration today and this administration may continue after the forthcoming elections or be replaced by an NPP or another administration. What we have today is an NDC administration, not an NDC government.
The fundamentals of government do not change after elections. It is the administration which changes. The proper understanding of this is very important. It implies that any new administration inherits all the assets and liabilities it meets on taking office.
When, therefore, a new administration finds that debts have been acquired for the state, it is its duty to find out whether the debts have been acquired legitimately and to settle them in accordance with the terms of the acquisition. If funds are not available, it is its duty to enter into appropriate negotiations and come to a settlement.
The new administration may not agree or be happy with the circumstances leading to the debt but if the constitutional requirements have been met and the proper parliamentary rules and procedures respected, it has an obligation to settle the debts.
In fact, those in the administration responsible for inaction which leads to loss of money should be charged for causing financial loss to the State.
Of course, it does not mean that corruption cannot be involved if all the constitutional and legal procedures have been followed. It is the duty of the administration to investigate quietly and efficiently any apparent corrupt deals.
Payment of legitimate debts cannot, however, be withheld unreasonably to land the State into huge judgement debts. It is the duty of a new administration to ensure that the public is aware of the facts and that irrelevant and wrong issues are not pursued to confuse the people and even the administration itself!
After an agreement has been negotiated, the President may request cancellation after a foreign visit when an attractive proposal is made. It is for the officials concerned not to fume at “political interference” but to humbly ask for the details of the offer and compare it with what has been negotiated. Where appropriate, they should compare the offer with the negotiated proposal. The negotiated cost should be compared with the offer.
Abrogating a contract will normally lead to penalties and these should be factored into any financial assessment. If the negotiated contract sum is say US$80 million and the offer made to the President is US$50 million, the penalty of abrogation should be added to the attractive offer before an assessment is made. If the penalty is say US$20 million, then the offer is attractive and generally acceptable. But if the penalty is US$40, then the State would be worse off by US$10 million.
It is the duty of the officials concerned to make a clear presentation which should eventually reach the President. If in spite of this the President insists on accepting the offer, the officials should diligently work on the offer while working through the normal channels to ensure that the penalty is available when the contract is abrogated.
Judgement debts which have captured the headlines of late as well as other substantial financial losses to the State have arisen because of the flouting of rules, regulations and procedures and failure of officials to do their duty.
The blame game should stop. It will not lead us anywhere. To arrest the practice of indiscipline, we should diligently examine what went wrong and deal with the culprits, whether they are politicians, public officials or civil servants. Failure to do what one is employed to do is as bad as corruption and should attract appropriate sanctions.
The party which wins the elections assumes a great responsibility. We cannot build the better Ghana we all desire if government is run as a party organisation without discipline and national purpose.
Source: K. B. Asante/D-Graphic
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