The budget contains serious austerity measures that would inflict more hardships on the ordinary Ghanaian than the politician. Not sharing hampers and diaries as expenditure cuts, for example, pales in comparison with reducing the size of the government. A simple google search of the word “Ministerial Appointments and Government Expenditure in Ghana’s Fourth Republic” would give an idea of how much we are likely to save if we reduce the size of the government. Yet, because the government isn’t committed to cutting expenditure in a manner that inflicts hardships on its appointees, it chose other minor austerity interventions directed at itself, that pussy-footies the quest for all to sacrifice.
Why won’t government reduce the staff at the Jubilee House by two-thirds, and ask those retrenched to go embark on farming and planting for food? Why won’t government scrap some ministries and realign others? Why do we need separate ministries for Agriculture and Fisheries? Can’t we combine the Communication and Information Ministries? Why do we have MMDCEs, Regional Ministers and a Local Government Ministry at the same time? Can’t we ask the Regional Ministers to step aside while the Local Government Ministry works with the MMDCEs to handle affairs at the various regions and localities? Can we not combine the Defense and Interior Ministries and don’t officials of these institutions work together on many occasions? Why do we still need a Ministry for Parliamentary Affairs that tries to make Parliament subservient to the Executive? Why can’t we collapse the two separate ministries of Roads and Highways, and Railways, and make them part of our Transport Ministry (including Aviation)? Is it not possible to combine the Works and Housing Ministry with the Sanitation and Water Resources Ministry? Religion and Chieftaincy matters are expected to exist outside the shackles of government. Do we need a whole ministry for these at this time? Can we not combine the Lands and Natural Resources Ministry with the Ministry in charge of our Environment? These are some of the alignments and austerity interventions in the area of downsizing the government, that would point to the government’s willingness to sacrifice in the perilous times in which we find outside.
All the interventions that are aimed at imposing some hardships on the government and its appointees, are like cottons thrown at the elephant. The proposal to reduce their salaries by 30 percent is problematic and it’s implementation is also doubtful, as no appointee shares his or her payslip. The suggestion to find out the truth about the salary cuts of appointees, by using the RTI, ignores the cost and deliberate bureaucratic bottlenecks associated with this route.
The point is, if times are hard, political leadership must be seen to be sacrificing the more, as a strategy to soften the stance and demands of labor and to elicit popular cooperation and endurance in the period of austerity. But unfortunately, even the President cannot comprehend the times in which we find ourselves and regrettably, his managers are not that politically savvy to counsel him about what he must do to show leadership as he visits austerity on the poor. Else, why will the President fly luxuriously to Qatar, just to offer support to the Black Stars? Couldn’t he have done a zoom call with them? Has the vehicles involved in the Presidential Convoy been reduced? How do we enforce the ban on the use of V8 vehicles in Accra? Is the Police going to be arresting all who drive such vehicles in Accra? Are they going to be carrying log books to indicate that they are traveling outside Accra whenever they move the V8s? Do all appointees have extra salon cars or the state is going to spend more money ti buy some?
The less patriotic and discriminatory belief that, in this period of hardships, the ordinary Ghanaian must suffer, while the politician continue to live in opulence, won’t work and we will lead on the labor front to ensure that, politicians and their article 71 office holders, won’t be more human beings than all other Ghanaians. In the midst of hardships, government is callously proposing a base pay increase of 12 percent to labor. How mean and disrespectful can a government be towards those whose taxes provide the resources to fund the luxuries of politicians! So long as the government remains unwilling to sacrifice, labor won’t sacrifice and most assuredly, there would be more labor industrial actions, until labor also lives in opulence like the politician and the article 71 officeholder.
By: Yaw Gyampo