Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Ghana @ 60: Time to retire and live on the beach...or not

Happy 60th birthday! As today is your last day at work, here's your retirement cheque. Expect your monthly benefits to be automatically deposited in your account. It has been a pleasure worki...what's that? You're NOT retiring? Wait, you're 60 right? In this part of the world after 60 you retire.What do you mean you're not retiring? Can't afford to?  You've been working for more that 40 years. Why don't we review your choices and see if we can determine why you're still broke and in debt after all these years.
Your parents left you money, like, a ton of money. Enough money to invest and be wealthy. What happened to it? Ahh, your first executive person didn't manage it well and put you into debt? It was just a $ 1 billion debt though and that was over 50 years ago. You couldn't pay off a billion dollars despite all the billions you've since been making and receiving?

I'm not surprised. You see, in order to get out of debt, you should have tightened your belt and cut your spending. Instead, all I saw you doing was spending almost all your income on the public sector. You ended up  having to borrow and keep borrowing just to finance the much-needed developmental projects that you needed to perform. Year after year, your public sector budget just got bigger. It never reduced. The people supposed to make sure it isn't as high were too busy enjoying that money and didn't want to lose it. They enjoy all kinds of benefits to serve us, but work from 11am to noon, and 2pm to 4pm from Tuesdays to Thursdays. They find ways of over-budgeting everything so they can take some of the money. They pass laws that pay them ridiculously high amounts of money not based on merit or work output, but simply on the fact that they got elected into power. They get fuel and power subsidies, and so do not really care when the fuel prices are increased. They get interest free car loans guaranteed by you, car loans we're not even certain are ever paid back by them. Yet, you never evaluate their performance. You just keep paying them, and even allow them to take end of service bonuses home with no inquiry from you as to what they did in their time working for you to deserve that bonus.

How were you expecting to get out of debt when you're watching as they fill the car park and garages of our State House to the brim with cars all for the chief servant? When they buy however many new cars every single opportunity they get and sell off the old ones to their cronies for peanuts?
You shouldn't be surprised at all. Instead of investing in the things that bring you money, you're too busy investing in consumables. As a company, you're a terrible investment decision. I would not invest in you knowing you'll take almost 50% of my investment and spend it on areas that give no returns on investment. Agriculture, Natural Resources, Human capital, Scientific and technological advancements get less investments from you than the salaries of your executives. You don't invest in education or in research capacity. You want to be industrialised, but won't support the research needed to get there. You want industrialisation and development to materialise from the thousands of sons and daughters you've lost to other countries.

But first, please convince these children to return home.
Since you're still working instead of retiring, show these children a budget that doesn't spend close to 50% of our income on just the public sector. Show us a parliament that will be paid more realistic salaries. Show us leaders who will stop over-budgeting and over-spending. Give us a climate free of the 'old boys' club' way of thinking to be able to actually effect change. Give us enough power and resources to make the changes we want to see. Stop giving power to your old friends who still insist on doing things using inefficient methods because 'that's how we've always done it'. Let us in, so we can be 'citizens and not spectators', as our President has said.
We won't go on retirement now. Maybe 60 years from now, we can go lie on a beach somewhere with fresh coconuts, great grand children that are educated in a  country with health and infrastructural excellence, and some sun-glasses. Maybe... or maybe not..