Random thoughts of a rural farmer (Two)

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Random thoughts of a rural farmer; part 4
Photo: Francis Owusu-Achampong,

Moral values

An educated person has a huge moral responsibility to be honest and truthful to the public whose resources were used for their education. This is especially relevant in cases where the mass of the people believes and act on one’s assertions, without any further probing of the veracity of what they had heard or read.

Reckless, untruthful assertions, therefore, have the capacity to sway the public towards negative ends, like the storming of the Capitol in the US which has massively dented the reputation of the United States as a bastion of democracy and respect for the rule of law for nearly three centuries.

Thus, when I heard on radio a member of Parliament fervently debunking a colleague parliamentarian’s complaint that cocoa farmers have not been paid for their produce for some time, I was beside myself with incredulity.

Facts are facts, truth is truth. I do not believe there is anything like NPP or NDC facts or truths. To vehemently deny that no farmer is owed for their cocoa sales was far below the belt. As a banker turned cocoa farmer, I can attest to the fact that my last three consignments of cocoa sales to the Produce Buying Company, one of the largest Licensed Buying Companies, have not been paid for, as at the time of writing.

The same prevails across the cocoa producing areas in the country and was negatively manifested during the re-opening of schools when parents gnashed their teeth over liquidity constraints. These are incontrovertible facts.

To what end, therefore was the blatant misinformation, especially when it was embellished with an allusion to a dent on our international reputation? My Vandal friends recall our motto of “Truth Stands”. It may be unpalatable but don’t garnish a lie to give it a semblance of truth.

Would it not have been more honourable for the respondent to say he was not aware, and that he would find out the causes and apprise his colleague subsequently? This George Orwellian Animal Farm propaganda has no room in this 21st century information age. Certainly not all farmers are illiterate and would swallow baseless propaganda, hook, line and sinker.

The House of Parliament must be seen to epitomize honesty and integrity as envisaged by the framers of the constitution. It should not be reduced to a football pitch where spectators can say anything and get away with it.

I find it even more problematic when intellectuals twist facts to score political points among a populace, most of whom find anything spewed by their idol or mentor as equal to the gospel. In view of high illiteracy rates and sometimes blinded by political expedience, some care less about the source of information or data, and would skew such as to make you wonder how and where they earned their Masters and PHd degrees.

I was similarly horrified to hear a certain opinion leader in my rural constituency unashamedly telling a group of people that Gabby Otchere Darko had been paid GH¢240 billion as legal fees in the infamous Agyapa Royalties deal. I am not a spokesman for Gabby. I know for certain that things went awry over that transaction hence its hurried abortion.

For someone to peddle such blatant falsehood over a company whose IPO had not even seen the light of day to enable it generate cash flows, smacks of absolute recklessness, especially among an audience who had no means of verifying the accuracy of that submission. Not even the Volta River Authority or any Ghanaian company, in my estimation, has assets of that magnitude, which in dollar terms amount to some USD42 billion at current exchange rates. The country’s annual budget estimates probably do not come anywhere near that figure which has supposedly been the subject of corruption.

COVID-19 exposes our health and educational infrastructure.

My incessant calls for re-prioritisation of our national expenditure have to be re-echoed in view of the damning effects of COVID-19 and our attempts to contain the pandemic. It is so depressing watching school children crowded in classrooms while we talk about social distancing.

My heart bleeds even more when the children complain of excess heat against the background of the necessity of wearing their face masks continuously in class. Is it not possible that we might escape COVID-19 and merely replace it with other lung diseases from the daunting breathing experiences of our children in the cramped classrooms?

It is horrifying to note that our hospitals have no capacity to take on the increasing numbers afflicted by the COVID-19 pandemic. I am personally aware of the frightening experiences of friends and relations who have been shuttling from one hospital to the other in search of beds to accommodate the sick over the last few weeks. The helplessness is pathetic.

The controversies around the distribution and or efficacy of the covic vaccines notwithstanding, I am curious to know how the government can raise adequate funds to import the vaccines even if some country announced surplus stocks.

With our ever- increasing debt burden weakening the government’s capacity to borrow more and the deleterious effect of the pandemic on economic growth, we do not need the IMF to come and lecture us on how to prudently utilize our scarce resources.

Probably, the time is ripe to take a holistic view of the FSHS policy in its current form and allow for some contributions from parents on a capacity to pay basis so that we could re-direct resources to other equally vital ends.

Any talk about a new national cathedral, whether funds will come from public or private sources, or a new parliament building must be suspended for the foreseeable future as we juggle with the tough economic outlook.

The needs are daunting but some are certainly more important than others and the definition of opportunity costs remain the same whether we talk of public or private resources.

Once again, pardon me if these random thoughts have bruised anybody’s nerves.  Naturally, after sixty years, and in retirement, one leaps into a reflective mood occasionally, and these thoughts cannot be avoided.

I fully acknowledge that these thoughts may not find favour with everybody, but so they say, is the beauty of democracy. When you consider that we live in a country where some citizens are lashed with canes in public by security operatives for not wearing face masks and some parliamentarians are merely admonished to stay away from parliament even after testing positive for COVID-19, perhaps you can find a heart to forgive me even if you disagree with me. Just allow me to hold my views, however unconventional they may appear.

The writer is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Bankers, an adjunct Lecturer at the National Banking College, a farmer and the author of “Risk Management in Banking” textbook.

Email: [email protected]          Tel. 0244 324181 / /0576436414

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