A senior citizen, Mr Kwame Pianim, has urged Members of Parliament (MPs) to exhibit a high level of statesmanship to enable them to focus on championing critical issues that affect the progress of the nation.
He said MPs were role models to their constituents and agents of development whose actions must always be geared towards advancing the cause of the citizenry and not political and individual interests.
In an interview with the Daily Graphic on current affairs relating to the budget presentation and the fallouts in Parliament, the founder member of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) said MPs must be minded that they were also duty bound to protect the Fourth Republic, saying they could only achieve that if they exhibited a high level of maturity in and outside Parliament.
Mr Pianim said recent events in Parliament regarding the approval of the 2022 Budget were worrying and required a mind change to focus on issues of national importance.
He mentioned cohesion and consensus-building as the critical tenets required in the current parliamentary dispensation to ensure harmony and promote national development.
“MPs should focus on serious national issues and help protect the Fourth Republic. If you push politics into the streets, you will be the major losers and set back national development for decades.
“Focus on deliberating on the budget and make the measures promote the national interest and the welfare of the poor in your constituencies,” he urged the MPs.
Mr Pianim further appealed to the National House of Chiefs to use its position as “owners of this land” to convene a meeting between President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and former President John Dramani Mahama to find a common ground for the current parliamentary set to work with the Executive towards national development.
The meeting must also “find ways and means to calm their supporters and bring civility to our political discourse”, he said.
He said the meeting must aim at forging a pathway to national cohesion at a time when Ghana was operating with a hung Parliament where neither the ruling NPP nor the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) had majority of MPs.
The economist also advised Ghanaians to brace themselves up for tougher times next year, as the COVID-19 pandemic persisted at a time when the various forms of financial support to mitigate the impact were drying up.
While calling on organised labour to be moderate in their demands, the investment consultant asked the government to restore the collection of road and bridge tolls and cancel plans to impose a levy on electronic transactions, describing it as counter-productive and a risk to financial inclusion.
Turning his attention to the citizenry, Mr Pianim said Ghana needed a united front to confront the challenges imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We need to stay calm and present a united front to protect one another from the COVID-19 pandemic. It is not over and may get worse before things revert to some form of a new normal.
“We are still in an economic crisis and 2022 is going to be more difficult than this year. The extra resources we had to weather the storm in 2021 may not be available to us in 2022,” he said.
He mentioned the rapid credit facility from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the increment in the fund’s special drawing rights which benefited the country; the draw-downs from national reserves, particularly the petroleum funds, as well as the special borrowing from the Bank of Ghana (BoG) to fund the national response, as some of the support that might not be available.
“The national boat is in stormy waters and if any of us tries to agitate for special positions, we risk sinking the boat,” the statesman said.
Mr Pianim called on the government to “listen creatively to the pain of our people and focus on providing a caring administration and preserving national cohesion”.
He said it must also ensure that it kept the economy on an even keel in the stormy weather.
“To the Ministry of Finance, this is not the time for jerky manoeuvres. Take advantage of the budget process crisis for more reflection and consultations. Your focus should be expenditure cuts and husbanding our scarce resources. Do not seek to further stress people struggling to survive,” he said.
On the recent cessation of toll collection, the statesman said the government should restore it “to protect the fresh foodstuff markets that have developed around the tollbooths. If not restored quickly, we may do damage to the rural economy and especially the women traders there.
“Forget about the E-Levy; it is anti-technology progress and may undermine the significant progress being achieved in financial inclusion for the unbanked,” he said.
Mr Pianim also appealed to organised labour to be cautious in making demands, saying that the government was maintaining jobs in the crisis by borrowing to pay wages and salaries.
Consequently, he said, labour must find ways to tighten its belt to survive the pandemic-induced crises.
“The economy is wobbly and we should all try to keep it stable. The rest of the world is busy with their own problems. Let us look inside for resilience,” he said.