Celebrating the hangman's noose
It is rare and it may even be considered an abomination for a money lender to advise a prospective client against piling up more debt. In other words, for the money lender's business to thrive, his interest will not lie in how the client has applied the loan he is seeking but how he (the lender), would recoup his investment with interest.
Business gains and ethics aside, a lender who wants to be charitable may look at the prospective customer in the face and tell him:"Master, you do not have to take this loan which is likely to keep you in perpetual debt and undermine your sovereignty. Go home and manage with greater prudence the enormous resources you already have."
This client may go home with a heavy heart, cursing the money lender, but if he does as advised, he may possibly return one day to acknowledge good counsel.
The banks, just like the money lender, are always ready to offer financial support but on condition that you pay back the hard way. To ensure that you do not fail yourself and squander their investment, they will necessarily attach stringent conditions if it even means advising you to reduce your food intake or withdraw some of your children from school.
The most important thing is that the loan must be paid back with interest or in default you lose your valuable property which may be the house you share with your family.
Going to the bank for a loan may not necessarily be as a result of extreme need but rather a result of extreme recklessness, irresponsibility and total mismanagement. It is, therefore, not a matter of pride to appear before your banker every month that you want financial bailout. If you mismanage your domestic economy, you do not expect any remedy from external sources.
A good banker who likes you may, sometimes at the expense of losing business, take a critical look at you and tell you in the face that your regular visits to his office could be curtailed or even avoided altogether if you could observe certain simple things.
First of all, you must know yourself and should not pretend to be what you are not. In short, you should cut your coat according to the size of your cloth, or simply, you should live within your means.
Next, you should set your priorities right. Do not indulge in wasteful spending because you have seen others doing so. Why do you want to go for the latest car on the market when your children are hungry or when their school fees are outstanding? In other words, apply your resources responsibly and judiciously.
Third, and very important, protect your resources with religious fervour. Stop the pilfering, the stealing, the naked daylight robbery perpetuated by some members of your household, some of which you deliberately pretend you do not know about.
Fourth, utilise the vast resources at your disposal to expand sources of revenue generation. Be modest and eat what you grow instead of stuffing your stomach with foreign foods on a daily basis.
As a nation, have we observed these basic principles of life? Are we not seeing opulence and ostentation in our public life? How do we justify ministers and their deputies driving expensive cross-country vehicles on the streets of Accra and other cities? How do we convince the world that we need help when we can afford to use BMW 7 Series and Lexus to inspect projects in rural areas? Is the fleet of vehicles in the presidential motorcade an indication of a people who know their needs and want to apply their resources towards that end?
Can we say that all those living at our expense are delivering any service in our national interest? What about those who move from one radio or television station talking all day long and even question the intelligence of Ghanaians for complaining of hardships?
What about the wanton pillage and rape of our national resources by men and women who swore on the Bible in public to protect and defend our collective national interest? Why go to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a mere one billion dollars or less when the records at the Auditor-General's office clearly indicate that more than that amount has been misused, misapplied, misappropriated or simply stolen from our national coffers in the last few years?
Have we proved to ourselves and the rest of the world that we are determined to retrieve what belongs to all of us but have found their way into the pockets of a few disgruntled public office holders and their criminal associates in business?
After squandering so much resources at home with careless abandon, are we protecting our sovereignty or mortgaging it when we carry a bowl in hand begging for a pittance?
The IMF will not offer free advice like that charitable banker or money lender. Everything must be paid tenfold and that is what we are going to do even though the international lending body has not told us anything we do not know already. They are just things we know but have failed to do.
Whether we admit it or not, the IMF package is like a hangman's noose around our neck, and that is not worth celebrating.