Prof Nii Noi Dowuona, Head, Department of Soil Science at the University of Ghana says time is fast running out for politics of attrition and it is about time parliament busied itself with more relevant issues than ”elementary concerns”.
Contributing to a discussion of the ongoing debate of whether to collateralise Ghana’s expected oil revenue for loans on Radio Gold’s Alhaji and Alhaji on Saturday, the former General Secretary of the Convention People’s Party (CPP) said he found it not too important, the back-and-forth in parliament over whether or not to amend the proposed Ghana Petroleum bill as it prohibits the collateralization of the fund.
Of more importance, he suggested, parliament should be engaged with perfecting its oversight authority in matters of finance so that loans approved by the house would be judiciously applied, devoid of any abuses.
The Government is seeking the amendment to enable it apply the anticipated oil revenue as collateral to contract loans for infrastructure and socio-economic development, however it is facing a stiff stand-off by the minority New Patriotic Party that wants the oil revenue safe-guarded for future generations.
But Professor Dowuona said the issue in contest should be to what end the nation must apply the loans rather than whether to collateralise or borrow, explaining that as a nation, we have always borrowed for our development projects any way.
“For me I don’t see this as a major problem. It is about what loan are you going to take; what funding source are you going to tap; and if we allow the collateral, how do we preserve the fact that we don’t want to abuse this fund. That is the win-win situation we are looking for and for me I don’t think this is any matter that we need to drag and sincerely we have to exercise sober reflection in this matter.
“And the veiled partisan approach, I think time is running out for that character of politics; it’s like in local parlance – you do me I do you, so you do me I do you come the next time when you are there it continues but the country, the situation in which we find ourselves, I don’t think the electorate or we who are governed, we’ll have room for that sort of politicking…”
He argued: “So if we are going to borrow and we have a backbone… I have houses that I can use as collateral then I say I wouldn’t use those houses and rather I have to go through other means by which I can borrow at greater cost, does it make sense?”
Enumerating a list of projects embarked upon by governments in the past, he said virtually everything we have done as a nation has been through loans – Akosombo Dam, construction of the lower dam, Aboadze Thermal Plant, railway network, Tema Harbour, construction of the Circle-Achimota and then Achimota – Ofankor as well as Mallam – Tetteh Quashie roads, and the rehabilitation/building of four stadia for CAN 2008, explaining that resources are not limited in a particular country hence borrowing is a fact of life – the bigger question though is whether you borrow for something positive.
He maintained that “It is about Parliament playing their role effectively and efficiently and indeed the resources they need to get offices and get research materials, support to let them play that role, that should attract their attention more about what I call “elementary concerns…”.