As the 2016 elections draws closer, the economic performance of Ghana has taken centre stage in the campaign of the two major parties, the NDC and the NPP.
Whilst the NPP talks about how the economy has been messed up and destroyed by the President Mahama led NDC, the NDC on the other hand always try to argue that the NPP has no moral right to question them on the current collapsed economy. The NDC’s reason is that the NPP didn’t do better with regards the economy when they were in government between 2001-2008. As to whether the NDC’s claim is true or not is a topic for another day.
I’m not a good student in economics despite me offering economics as a minor course in the KNUST. The difficult part of that subject to me is the economics maths. I hate the calculations and I’m very happy I didn’t major in it eventhough I desired it ardently when I was in my first year.
Dr.Bawumia has however raised my interest and appetite for economics. But with this appetite also comes my confusion. The truth is that whenever I see Dr. Bawumia’s diagrams during his lectures I get confused. Thankfully however, Dr. Bawumia has a very simple way of making the most dumb student understand complex economic theories.
The politics of the economy is very interesting. It has successfully succeeded in separating propaganda from truth, economical viable proposals from cluelessness about the economy and honest persons from the dishonest and lying ones. It has equally shown those who want to patriotically rescue the country from its current hopelessness and hardships to those who want to con and deceive the populace in order to retain power.
Interestingly, most of the people who fully understand the current economic situation of the country are those who are fortunate to have tertiary education. The rest only engage in propaganda and distortions. This then propelled me to find out from some few rural folks in the Sissala East District of the Upper West region. I tried finding out the knowledge of our people in understanding the economy. I realised that they have their own way of digesting the issues that affect our current economy. Sincerely, their approach is the best for me. It’s their approach I’ll attempt to use to see whether I can briefly engage in the unending economic debate.
On the issue of inflation, whilst those affiliated with the NPP claim prices are always going up, those in the NDC said prices of commodities have been going up since independence and as such it isn’t surprising. Since I’m in a farming community, the price of fertiliser was used as an example. The NPP members claimed that they could sell a 50kg bag of maize for GH¢50 in 2008. They said a bag of fertiliser was GH¢26 whilst sulphate was GH¢24. Simply put, if the person sells one bag of maize, he can buy a bag of fertiliser and a bag of maize. However in the current NDC administration, a 50kg bag of maize is sold at GH¢60 as at the period of farming between May and September ( in the three Northern regions). A bag of fertiliser was however sold at a price of GH¢110 and GH¢85 for the subsidised fertiliser. This meant that you had to sell at least two bags of 50kg maize before you can buy a single bag of fertiliser (NPK). This was one reason used to justify the downward trend of the economy.
Another case was given by a retired teacher. The argument is always raised that the the salaries of teachers has been made better with the implementation of the single spine by the NDC. Teachers we are told are paid an average of GH¢1,000 per month. This is a vast improvement from the average of GH¢400 they used to make during the NPP administration. This is one of the most consistent argument of the ruling NDC. That argument was however shot down by a village folk who said the then GH¢400 was more valuable than the GH¢1,000 of today. His reason is that in those days, a student going to either the nursing or teacher training college pay an average of GH¢350 as fees. This meant that a teacher can use his monthly salary to pay the school fees of his ward who had admission to the tertiary institutions. However, under the president Mahama led NDC, nursing training colleges pay almost GH¢4,000 as fees. It therefore mean either a teacher has to sacrifice his entire salary for four months or he has to go to a bank for a loan despite the very high interest rates.
The debate moved on to the price of fuel and foodstuffs. I marveled when I listened to the intellectualism and simplicity of the rural folks. I’m convinced beyond doubt that wisdom is more with those in the rural communities than the classroom and offices. I, in a way want to remember one of former president Rawlings best quotes, “I don’t know any law and I don’t understand economics, but I know it when my stomach is
empty.” I wonder what Ghanaians will tell the president Mahama led NDC government come the 7th of December, 2016 if they were to be judged by how empty the stomachs of Ghanaians are.
I shall, In sha Allah, be back
By Fuseini Abdul-Fatawu