opinionBy Dr. Kwame Osei
I have been compelled to write this article as a result of two articles that I have seen recently in newspapers that confirm my warning to Ghanaians that IMF/World Bank induced policies WILL cripple them.
The first article came in this newspaper that had as its headline "Woes of textile sector deepen ..... As cheap foreign imports flood Ghana's market and that more job losses were in the offing.
The second article is from another publication a couple of weeks back which revealed that Vodafone Ghana made a loss of GHc264 million - this is the same Vodafone saying it was coming to rescue Ghana Telecom from its own loss making which is why it was sold to them dirt cheap.
What these two stories have in common is that both are a victim of IMF/World Bank sanctioned policies that they have foisted on the Government of Ghana under the guise of so-called economic liberalization.
In the first instance regarding the textile industry, in the days of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah and even in the few years after he was removed from power, Ghana had a thriving textile industry that was employing thousands of Ghanaians and making made in Ghana fabric and designs that were the envy of Afrika.
However, since the overthrow of Nkrumah, the IMF/World Bank have very carefully and totally eroded the once thriving local textile industry to such an extent that even fabrics that once were associated with Ghana are not even manufactured in Ghana.
These polices sanctioned by the IMF/World Bank have resulted in cheap imports mainly from China flooding the Ghanaian market which has devastated the local textile industry in the process leaving thousands of Ghanaians lose their jobs in this industry.
The second warning refers to the Vodafone scandal. In another newspaper it was reported that Vodafone Ghana in only its first year in operation made a loss of nearly GHc300 million.
This from a company that the Ghanaian public were told were going to rescue Ghana Telecom and start to make it a profit making company.
The reality that Ghanaians should be ware of is that Vodafone before taking over GT was a company in deep trouble - they had recorded the biggest loss for a British company at over $US26bn, a company that was facing a tax suit in the Indian courts and sold its Japanese concern after it struggled to break the lucrative Japanese market.
However, this loss is totally unacceptable when Vodafone has been in charge officially of GT for less than a year.
Even the acting CEO, Randell Hato admitted in a "private and confidential" internal memo dated 31 July 2009 that "last year the company reported a loss of GHc264 million, we urgently need to turn Vodafone Ghana into a strong and successful business."
However, the shocking thing about the Vodafone situation is that unknowing to many Ghanaians, it is their hard-earned tax cedis that is paying for this failure.
For example there are 80 mainly White European expats who live at expensive rented accommodation in Trasacco's plush Villagio Premavera estimated to be at $US5,000 per person per month - this works out to be $US4,800,000 or GHc7,200,000 in accommodation expenses for the last year only.
To add insult to injury the expat staff drive around in rented posh cars from C & C at a cost to the Ghanaian taxpayer of $US150 a day per person which is $US4,368,000 or GHc6,552,000 a year, not forgetting their free petrol allowance.
Also since Vodafone assumed control of GT, many Ghanaians have lost their jobs/livelihood. Vodafone has already sacked 950 Ghanaians under its so-called voluntary redundancy package and a further 950 more Ghanaians will be sacked by the end of November this year under Vodafone's compulsory redundancy.
These redundancies are a part of Vodafone's plan as Mr. Hato confirms in his memo - he states "in other areas we need to reduce numbers or cut roles which are not core to our business".
So the above shows what is at the heart of the Vodafone fiasco and Ghana's fading textile industry - the total re-colonization or neo-colonization of Ghana and a new for m of imperialistic enslavement
Why is this?
As we have seen in the years since the overthrow of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, IMF/World Bank sanctioned policies have all but crippled Ghana's once envied and thriving education, healthcare and agriculture sectors, destroyed the livelihoods of millions of Ghanaians resulting in a social and economic time bomb and making Ghana, once the Black Star of Afrika now a basket case.
This is why Dr. Kwame Nkrumah said that political independence is meaningless unless economic independence is attained too.
Economic independence is doing what is in the best interests of swathes of the ordinary people and the country and further the continent and not being tied down or being enslaved to the impositions of the oppressor via its economic machinery, in this case the IMF/World Bank being the main two culprits.
Dr. Kwame Nkrumah also warned in his classic book "Neo-colonialism, the last stage of Imperialism that "imperialism has grown more sophisticated and more dangerous. It is more sophisticated because the neocolonial powers i.e. the West have developed a comprehensive propaganda machinery, which moulds the minds of the people in the neocolonies. It is more dangerous because it is difficult to hold the powerful states that exercise neo-colonialism responsible for their criminal actions".
He also stated that purpose of the West particularly the United States is to ensure that governments in Afrika comply and conform to the wishes of the Western powers, especially the United States.
The main interest of the West, especially the United States is to secure access to markets, cheap labour and natural resources and this is where the IMF/World Bank come in with their flawed economic policies designed to achieve this.
And in order to achieve this the IMF/World Bank under disguise employ what is termed as economic hitmen - John Perkins the authour of the critically acclaimed book, "Confessions of an economic hitman" states that his function as an economic hitman was to convince the political and financial leadership of underdeveloped countries like Ghana to accept enormous development loans from institutions like the World Bank and USAID.
Saddled with huge debts they could not hope to pay, these countries were forced to acquiesce to political pressure from the United States on a variety of issues such as trade and economic policy. Perkins states in his book that developing nations were effectively neutralized politically, had their wealth gaps driven wider and economies crippled in the long run.
This proves what Dr. Kwame Nkrumah warned about in his book by stating that the essence of neocolonialism is that the state (Ghana)which is subject to neocolonialism (Western particularly American influence) "has all the outward trappings of international sovereignty but in reality its economic system and thus its political system is directed from outside".
This means then that whether Ghanaians accept it or not the brutal truth is that our financial, monetary and economic policies come from London and Washington and not the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning and in the case of Francophone states, Paris.
If an Afrikan government seeks to change the nature of this economic enslavement and wants to be in the position of total economic independence as espoused by the likes of Nkrumah, the West especially The United States will use any means necessary, including coups to put pressure on the government to maintain the status quo being economic slaves to the West.
One of the instruments that is used to do this is Aid dependency which makes countries like Ghana dependent on "financial support" from the neo-colonial master (United States, Britain, France etc), in order to make the state system to function at a minimum level and to secure foreign investments (which are mainly a continuum of western domination).
And this is how the IMF/world Bank are able to hold countries like Ghana to ransom and keep them in the cycle of poverty that currently exists in Ghana and Ghanaians must WAKE UP to this reality that is damaging their quality of life.
Why do we have to borrow from the IMF/world Bank?
The above question is a very serious one to ask if we are serious about nation building in the right direction. The reason why Ghana has to go cap in hand to the IMF/World Bank is quite simple - this is because Ghana as a country does not earn enough from its exports in order to invest in schools, roads, transport, local government, healthcare and so forth.
This is because although Ghana has Gold, Diamonds, Bauxite, Timber and so forth, the harsh reality is that WE DO NOT OWN THE ABOVE COMMODITIES. As a result of IMF/world Bank intervention, Ghana has since lost overall control of its commodities to Western and Asian interests and if we are not careful the oil find will be another casualty.
For example the gold is now owned and controlled by American, British and Canadian mining companies who take up to 95% of the profits outside of Ghana. Our timber is not controlled by Ghanaians - this is controlled by the Arab cartel of Lebanese and Syrian interests who make billions of cedis every year and hardly pay any tax to the government of Ghana. Other commodities like aluminum are controlled by Indians.
This is a shocking state of affairs that has been created by the World Bank and IMF who have manipulated our Government to liberalize our economy whilst at the same time surrendering our core state assets like Ghana Telecom to private concern. This is why we have to go to the IMF and World Bank for money because we do not receive anything from our core commodities such as those as I have stated above.
When a country like Ghana accepts money from the IMF/World Bank, there are some conditionalities that have to be met. These conditionalities ultimately affect the quality of life for the ordinary Ghanaian such as increase in fuel prices or utility bills.
What the current "Global financial crisis" has shown us is that economics as practiced by the west has failed even the West with record bankruptcies, mass unemployment and a re-appraisal of the economic policies that were adopted by the West.
The conventional approach as instructed by the IMF/World Bank that Ghana has presided over the years since political independence towards addressing its economic mal-development has failed miserably and therefore there is the urgent need for Ghana to undertake a complete overhaul of our current economic paradigm.
This means researching, conducting feasibility studies and field studies, then implementing the recommendations that will result in implementing economic policies prescribed by Ghanaians and NOT by Europeans/Americans that creates REAL growth, REAL jobs, REAL opportunities that will substantially improve the quality of life for ALL Ghanaians and not just a privileged few.