We must move on

BY: Yaw Boadu Ayeboafoh

Resolve to be tender with the young, compassionate with the aged,  sympathetic with the striving and tolerant with the weak and wrong. Sometimes in life you will have been all of these. — Lloyd Shearer.

Sometimes when some of our politicians speak, they leave us in doubt whether over the years since 1993, we have gained any experience in the art of governance and whether there could be consensus on what is of national importance.

Over the last few weeks that I have been on retirement, I have had time to tune in to different radio and television stations to listen to some of the discussions about policies, from the free senior high school programme through the increasing cost of fuel to the depreciation of the cedi.

It appears that what matters to some of us is to recycle reasons advanced in the past to criticise the government, most of which at the time they were canvassed were rubbished by those in government as proof of competence or otherwise in measuring the performance of a new government. In fact, in some circumstances, people close their eyes to context and hammer only on what happened in the past and pass judgement.

The problem for me is that why do we use the same arguments we used in the past to either undermine or defend what is happening now when we said or did the opposite with justifiable satisfaction in the past.

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When that happens it only means we do not act with any sense of sincerity and principle but for parochial convenience.

Let us look at the issues one after the other. When in 2008 Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo campaigned on the introduction of the free SHS concept, the National Democratic Congress paid for a large number of advertisements as to why the promise was an utopian phantom.

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Today, when the concept is discussed, all you hear from NDC loyalists is that it is their party through the consultative assembly, which made it mandatory in the 1992 Constitution which was boycotted by those they consider to be NPP stalwarts. The issue then is how do you claim credit for something you undermined when first brought up.

When crude oil prices fell in the later part of the John Mahama administration the government introduced the special petroleum levy as an innovative way to raise funds against any future upsurge. Instead of the NPP commending the move, the party rather described the measure as among the nuisance taxes. Today, the NDC which justified the tax as preparing against a rainy day is calling on the government to remove it.

A concomitant of this outcry against the fuel tax is the fact that the same people who have found fault with the free SHS policy because it had not been selective or targeted but generalised are arguing for the removal of the fuel tax without considering the fact that some can pay.

On the matter of the depreciation of the cedi, there are some economists, who would want minimum government intervention in the management of the value of the cedi outside a buoyant economy.

In other words, there are some who are against any artificial intervention to shore up the currency and that the forces of economics must be allowed to operate such that the cedi could find its true value.

Others hold the view that government must put in place fiscal policies that would hold the money and make it stronger against other currencies, especially the dollar.
This is where one would expect our parties to build consensus and help define and protect our national interest, but no. They use it against each other but then the currency continues to depreciate whether in large measure or in trickles.

Whilst it is true that political parties exist to offer alternatives to policies, when a programme is so functional and beneficial to the people, it must not be condemned just like that but must be criticised to make it more effective and efficient.

For as long as we conduct our politics this way, the ordinary Ghanaian may not make any distinction between political leaders and parties but lump them together and condemn them with dysfunctional epitaphs, although not all politicians and governments are the same in pursuing policies and programmes to improve the living standards of the people.

In this wise, we need to support Parliament in the effort at ensuring that when ministers are reshuffled, they must be vetted again to determine their competence or suitability for the new portfolio other than the one for which they were earlier vetted.

The ball is in the court of Parliament since vetting at the Supreme Court has determined is not a term of art and must be dictated by the rules of the House, for as long as they do not breach any provision in the constitution.