Ghanaians should be ready to swallow the bitter pills today by choosing a long term economic transformation over a short term cushioning by government, Minister of State in Charge of Allied and Financial Institutions Fifi Kwetey has suggested.
Speaking on Joy FM, Multi TV news analysis programme Newsfile on Saturday, Mr Kwetey blamed politicians – NDC, NPP – for festering the issue of subsidy knowing very well that subsidy to a large a extend is dangerous for the economy. "We must stop playing the ostrich in Ghana," he charged.
"We effectively threw done the gauntlet by introduction into the political lexicon of this country what I consider the most iniquitous terminology on the expression known as the policy of affordability, there is nothing more dangerous than that whole policy."
He explained: "What that policy does is simply to play to the gallery and to pretend somehow you can continue preventing people from paying what they ought to pay, and create the impression as if, if something is costing five cedis you can continually make people pay one cedis for the five cedis they ought to pay."
The Minister stressed that government's subsidies over the years have caused the country to have "serious economic difficulties and serious social problems". He indicated that "while we think that we are creating short term cushioning for our people, what effectively we have done is to destroy our competiveness, retard our economic transformation and allow other nations that have been more courageous in facing those decisions to take the lead ahead of us."
Mr Kwetey emphasized that majority of Ghanaians, who can afford services provided by state intuitions, unceasingly yearn for subsidies, yet at the same time, "we are aspiring to have what we call economic transformation, lifting our people out of poverty, turning our country into a haven for investment in order to see total transformation of our nation and our destiny."
He therefore wants Ghanaians to wake up to the reality that interim cushioning would bounce back to us in double fold. He paraphrased an old adage to hammer home his point: he who runs a way from a fight lives to fight a tougher and bigger one in future.
In his prescription, there is the need for a segmentation of the citizenry to identify those who are vulnerable and poor in society; he also advised those who can afford to be "bold enough", "start telling the truth" and avoid riding on the back of populist trend, which he said is destroying the nation.
"Both NPP, NDC must simply stop playing to the gallery, because what it is postponed, we simply have a bigger crisis tomorrow. Tomorrow, the same people we thought we are cushioning, we end up inflicting on them far bigger pain," he summed up.
Subsidies, he maintained, are paid with tax payers money or loans. Therefore, he posited, "Effectively, while government is making effort to cushion you today, what government is doing is sacrificing the nation's economy… As a people we need to ask ourselves, which one do we want: short term cushioning or long term transformation that can lift us out of poverty?"
Inasmuch as Ghanaians are being asked to face certain difficulties and pay realistic prices for utilities, Mr Fifi Kwetey who is also the Member of Parliament for Ketu South challenged public sectors – service providers – to improve their performance, adding that their inefficiency would not be countenanced.