How our government pillages us

BY: Caroline Boateng
President Akufo-Addo
President Akufo-Addo

The issue of the government robbing us came up in Parliament during the debate on the National Anti-Corruption Action Plan (NACAP).

The robbing of Ghanaians by their own government takes place daily, right under their noses.

It happens when the government, as the major employer and procurer of goods and services for the people, inflates contract sums and cream of surpluses, not for the people they pledged to govern (not service as service is anathema to the Ghanaian politician), but for themselves.

Economics of scale means that benefits are maximised when one acquires goods or services in large quantities or on a large-scale.

Thus, in our daily lives, when we go to the market to buy tomatoes, we enjoy good bargains on a daily basis.
For instance, the tomato seller in lean seasons would have four pieces of tomatoes going for GH¢2.

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But he or she would be willing for me to take 12 pieces for GH¢5.

Buying more, that is GH¢ 5, has saved me GH¢1 and two extra pieces of tomatoes.

This is a common occurrence at our markets on a daily basis.

For sellers, the opportunity to sell off a consignment of goods timeously with enough profit is the incentive.

Then he or she would be liquid enough to go for more goods and his or her business goes on smoothly.
But this dynamic is lost on our government.

They make no bargains at all in their dealings or when they do, it goes into individual pockets.

Though the major procurer, in terms of volumes, no savings or benefits accrue to Ghanaians on whose behalf they deal or recite the oath of office before they assume posts to act.

One would have thought that being a major purchaser, buying cement for schools under a project would mean the cost of a bag of cement would be less than what I would get it for my small one-bedroom self-contained hut.

In July 2014, Parliament unanimously adopted the NACAP document as the country’s strategy in fighting corruption.

The debate that ensued prior to the passage was insightful.

The New Patriotic Party (NPP) MP for Bekwai, Mr Joseph Osei Owusu, in his contribution said, “When you go out on the streets now to ask of the price of cement, it would be sold to you between GH¢28 and GHC¢30.

But go through government procurements, all of them, we accept that when government procures it should be GH¢35. We will not question it; we all think that that is alright.”

Last week, at the commemoration of a Public Service Day, a day set aside by both the African Union (AU) and the United Nations (UN) to celebrate service and integrity in development exhibited by public servants in member states, the fact of this pillaging through corrupt procurement deals came up once again for discussion.

The Deputy Commissioner of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), Rev. Richard Quayson, in his submissions revealed that $3 billion was lost to the country every year.

The amount is the quantum of aid also received yearly.
So, we beg for aid with one hand and with the other dissipate resources meant for the good of all.

But mind boggling is the fact that the African Development Bank managed to construct a 150-bed hospital in Accra at the cost of $3 million, but our own government outperformed itself in the construction of a 60-bed district hospital at $25 million.

That is about seven times more than the cost of building the 150-bed hospital.

How did this happen?

The pillaging is enough and must stop!
At least those involved should have some conscience and shame that their actions are against the country!