Following the government’s disgraceful and shameful decision to go to the World Bank to seek a financial bailout, this article is to warn Ghanaians of the impending hard times that will surely be coming as a result of the government accepting this so-called financial assistance.
Before I continue with the article, it is important to note that in Europe countries like Greece, Spain, Ireland and Portugal all went to the IMF/World Bank to seek financial bail-outs. As a result of these countries taking these IMF/World Bank bailouts, Ireland, Spain, Portugal and Greece have all faced severe austerity measures, that has led to public sector wages freeze and in some cases like Greece severe public sector wage cuts, mass unemployment (Greece 50%, Portugal 30% Spain 25%) hunger crisis and massive cuts in public services – this should be a warning to Ghana!!
Let us not forget that in 2009 just months after the NDC came to office the late Atta-Mills went to the IMF/World Bank to get US$300 million ‘financial assistance’
Contrary to what government officials and the World Bank Country Director have been telling Ghanaians, THERE ARE CERTAIN CONDITIONS attached to this bailout that Ghanaians must be aware of.
This is because there are some very serious implications that the powers that be are hiding from Ghanaians. As someone once said “there is no such thing as a free lunch” and that “he who plays the piper calls the tune” – meaning that whether the government admits it or not, whether the World Bank admits it or not, Ghanaians must brace themselves for some serious hardships that will inevitably follow.
The first of these is happening already as the government is being forced by the World Bank to freeze employment in the public sector (as they have done in Europe even in the UK). This is a classic World Bank condition because public sector spending is seen by the bank as a cancer to development as it entails using resources that would be better spent elsewhere. – word has it already that THERE WILL BE A FREEZE IN THE Single Spine Salary Scheme AND POSSIBLE JOB LOSSES.
This policy will lead to our already stressed out youth with no possibility of obtaining work in the private sector and this in itself has its own implications that could include increase in female prostitution and sakawa to mention but two.
As a result of this dangerous policy an umbrella organization calling itself Alliance of Youth for Action is planning a massive demonstration to protest at this diabolical policy that is depriving our youth much needed employment.
A leading member of the group Mr. Pious Hadzi said that “this decision by the government is a crime that should not be allowed to stand as it will lead to an increase in sakawa and armed robbery”. – this has certainly been the case in recent years.
The next implication of the government accepting this financial arrangement is that it will lead to the selling off of state assets that will again lead to many more Ghanaians losing their jobs and livelihoods.
This will result in the selling off of prime state assets like Agricultural Development Bank (ADB), Ghana Commercial Bank, Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) and Volta River Authority (VRA)
Again this is another classic policy by the World Bank that insists that selling off of state assets is a fundamental condition in accepting financial assistance.
Last week it was disclosed in another newspaper that the government is seeking investors as part of the World Bank induced “divestiture” program to sell of major state assets including the GIHOC Glass Factory.
We all saw what happened under the last NPP government that accepted financial assistance from the IMF/World Bank and one of the conditions of accepting this financial assistance was the sell off of Ghana Telecom very cheaply to Vodafone – following the payment of alleged kick backs.
There were also plans to sell off Agricultural Development Bank but after some public outcry that was put on hold (for now).
Public sector reform is code word for mass lay offs, pay freezes, changes in working conditions and effectively leading to the sell off of some of those public institutions.
The Vodafone scam just shows what is really at the root of this privatization policy – this can be described as another form of imperialism when your former oppressor grabs control through very sinister means of your key strategic assets like Ghana Telecom and telling you how to run it whilst at the same time taking the huge profits (and that is the name of the game, big bucks) that will see the country lose vital revenue.
This is what Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah warned about when he wrote in his timeless book Neo-colonialism, the last stage of Imperialism. He warned that a time would come when the imperialist would use sinister and exploitative means to re-colonize Afrika whilst leaving her people in abject poverty.
In order that the readers can understand how this impacts itself, let us look at the mining sector in Ghana.
Contrary to what many Ghanaians think, we have gold but the plain truth is that WE HAVE NEVER OWNED THE GOLD. The gold is owned by EUROPEANS.
An example of this is the district of Tarkwa which contains half of Ghana’s mines. Tarkwa is a classic example of what Nkrumah warned about.
Tarkwa has seen the social and environmental cost of the gold “Boom”.
Mining in Tarkwa has displaced more than 100,000 people since 1990 and continues to do so, has contaminated the rivers thus contributing to diseases like cholera and destroyed farm and forest land, thus making the people hungry and their livelihoods in big doubt.
The criminal aspect of this neo-colonialism is that 70 per cent of the land in Tarkwa has been sold off (by the chiefs) to western multi-national companies with the locals receiving very little if any in compensation.
Think about this, can Ghanaians own 70 per cent of land in any European country? – so why is it OK for Europeans to in effect OWN 70 per cent of the land in Tarkwa and the sad thing is that we can do nothing about this because our chiefs have sold us out.
The dislocation of some of the people in the Tarkwa district affects “every aspect of the social fabric” and has led to high levels of prostitution, a rise in the incidence of AIDS, family disorganization and unemployment as people lose their farms.
The police have intervened when people have refused to leave and demanded fair compensation from the company for their lost land, crops and homes.
Air and water pollution stemming from mining operations in Tarkwa have spread malaria, tuberculosis, silicosis, acute conjunctivitis and skin diseases. The mines use cyanide heap leach technology which involves spraying cyanide, an ore to extract gold.
So the above just shows how IMF/World Bank policies have already destroyed Ghanaian communities.
The last hardship for now that I will forecast that will have an enormous effect on the quality of life for the ordinary Ghanaian is electricity.
Again many Ghanaians receive a subsidy in their electricity bills by the government.
As a result of accepting this miserly IMF/World Bank bailout, one of the conditions states that the government should no longer provide electricity subsidies to Ghanaians – as a result of this you will see increased tariffs with very flimsy and false excuses to justify the increase in electricity bills.
Also as part of this policy we will see more power cuts as the government pays the price for accepting World Bank money – haven’t we seen a lot of dumsor dumsor in the last year or so?
However, Ghanaians should not blame the government for these measures that will be hitting them hard. Rather they should blame the World Bank who carefully and systematically will manipulate our government into accepting these measures
.As I have said many times before the World Bank was set up not to help Afrika but the opposite.
No country has ever attained economic emancipation as a result of seeking ‘financial assistance’ or bail-outs as this is. China, Japan, Malaysia, South Korea, Viertnam, India and Turkey have developed and reached a status of first world economies NOT by seeking financial assistance from the nefarious IMF but looking inward and devising REAL homegrown policies that is in the national interest.
Think about this quotation adapted from the great Afrikan-American scholar John Henrik Clarke which I have amended for the purposes of this article:
“The most dangerous of all dependencies is to depend on your wealthy oppressor (the IMF/World Bank) to free you and share wealth with you, because wealthy people (IMF/World Bank) never train poor countries (Ghana) to take wealth away from them.”
In other words a rich man does not teach a poor man how to be rich because if the poor man becomes rich, the rich man will suffer.
So if Ghanaians want to apportion blame to anyone they should apportion it squarely on the IMF/world Bank for the hardships they will suffer.
The author is an economic analyst on Ghana.
Dr Kwame Osei
Historian, Economic Analyst and Media Practitioner.