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Professor Kwesi Botchwey served the Provisional National Defense Council (PNDC) as the Finance and Economic Planning Minister. In the history of Ghana, and the IMF relationship, he is the kingpin. He advised the PNDC Government in 1978 to invite the IMF for Economic Bail Out. The IMF honored the invitation and came with their first bitter prescription dubbed, STRUCTURAL ADJUSTMENT PROGRAM and later ECONOMIC RECOVERY PROGRAM.
About Six years ago, under the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Professor Kwesi Botchwey as head or member of the President John Mahama’s Economic Management Team, got IMF again for a bailout with much harsher conditionalities. Thank God it ended barely two weeks ago, as indicated by the NPP Finance Minister, Ken. Ofori Atta. (NEVER AGAIN PLEASE).
Under those austerity programs with the PNDC, Professor Kwesi Botchwey introduced excessive taxations in Ghana including over two-hundred percent duty on all importations into the country. The effects of those programs were so severe and affected all manufacturing industries. Workers were laid off, and at the same time, almost all the companies under the Ghana Industrial Holding Corporation had been recommended for divestiture, throwing out thousands of Ghanaian workers, without any contingency plans for job creation.
I was shocked recently when the Senior Minister, Yaw Osafo Maafo after an inquiry confirmed to me that the Public Works Department (PWD) had been sold long ago. Can you imagine a state sector responsible for the maintenance of all government estates and other public works has been sold? It is not surprising, therefore, that I saw a recent press video report about the dangerous state of the Black Star square, almost in the state of collapse. How can leadership be so irresponsible to what happens to the assets of the Country they govern?
The most unfortunate effect of the IMF structural adjustment program was bad as it adversely affected the local industries that were doing marvelously well and imparted on the economy. The PNDC had the stupid notion that those rich in the Country possess the financial capacity to destabilize their plans and therefore hatched a plot to cripple their businesses possibly including elimination. B.A Mensah’s International Tobacco Gh. Ltd, The Siaw’s Tata Brewery Ltd, Appiah Minka’s Apino soap Ltd, Mark Coffie’s Mazda Car Assembly plant and many successful local industrialists became targets for elimination. Their only crime was that they had too much money. With the negative effects of the Structural adjustment program, they successfully diminished the economic returns of the targeted personalities and made their businesses unprofitable. Tata Brewery and some companies were confiscated which included Mark Coffie’s car assembly plant. I was a senior management staff with International Tobacco Gh. Ltd and therefore, wish readers would patiently digest the chronology of how B. A Mensah’s I.T.G fell from grace to grass and how the PNDC, clandestinely ceased international tobacco Ghana Ltd, and sold it to SSNIT and Rothmans International of London. A PERFECT DAYLIGHT ROBBERY.
Since that atrocious era, the entrepreneurship spirit of the people of Ghana eroded and nobody would ever venture into an Intense Capital industry as large as International Tobacco that can employ many people into the formal sector of the economy. The trickledown effect is the escalating numbers of youth unemployment we are experiencing in the Country today and many years to come.
If you would have the patience to read on, you would understand why the IMF and Professor Kwesi Botchwey are culpable for the economic strangulation of Ghana. Please, read on.
When B.A Mensah realized the adverse effect of the Structural Adjustment and Economic Recovery Programs on his company, he complained to P.V Obeng (Late) who advised that B. A. Mensah write a paper to the Government referring to his peculiar problems. B. A. Mensah wrote the paper titled, “The Structural Adjustment Program and its adverse effects on the local industries” and submitted it to the Government through P.V Obeng. B. A. Mensah was later invited for a meeting and was advised to look for investors to beef up capital into the operations of his company.
International Tobacco was then behind in Customs and Excise Taxes and needed a bailout anyway. During his first trip to London, the Government through the leadership of the local workplace Committee for the Defense of the Revolution (CDR) attempted to cease the company but the attempt was resisted by the general workforce. B. A. Mensah successfully secured the interest of Rothmans International of London, who sent a delegation to study the company’s books. They were satisfied and advised B. A. Mensah to look for a third partner preferably a banking institution. B. A. Mensah tirelessly secured the interest of SSNIT as the third partner. Rothmans of London delegation came down again for a final meeting. When the joint meeting of the three partners ended, B. A. Mensah had to be content with a minimum percentage share while Rothmans brings equipment as shareholding, and SSNIT makes funds available to pay for retrenchment benefits. This final communique was made known to all workers.
B. A. Mensah was to cut staff by 50% and Rothmans would come back within two weeks. On the scheduled meeting day, B.A Mensah waited endlessly in his office from morning to evening expecting the arrival of the Rothmans representatives and SSNIT but none of the two showed up to the meeting. SSNIT behaved they did not know what was going on regardless of the several phone calls. B. A. Mensah thought Rothmans had not even made the flight to Ghana. Unaware of a secret meeting between the Government, Rothmans of London and SSNIT regarding a plot against B. A. Mensah. Two days later, Customs officials ceased and padlocked the gates, with radio and TV announcements of the takeover and sale of ITG for tax default of one million old Ghana Cedis.
Two weeks after the announcement, of the sale, the same Partners that B. A. Mensah had struggled to secure a partnership with, declared interest to purchase the company. Lo and behold, the PNDC had connived with the SSNIT and Rothmans King size of London to show B. A. Mensah the Red card of his life. What a painful and cruel episode of political hatred out of no crime but being a successful rich Ghanaian entrepreneur.
B. A. Mensah, Appiah Minka, Mark Coffie, Siaw, and the rest are deceased, and (May their souls rest in peace) John Rawlings and Prof. Kwesi Botchwey are filthy rich and eat everyday with their children around them. May they live forever, but they must someday reflect on their actions and inactions and judge themselves, the endless mess and hopelessness they plunged Ghana.
By Ofori Ampofo
The Writer is the President of the National Crusaders Alliance (NCA), and the Local President of the Ghana Leadership Union (GLU). He will soon launch a 2020 Independent Presidential Platform Document for change. A gift for Ghana to decide.
Secretary: Jeorge Wilson Kingson 0244822034