Ebo Quansah at Elmina
Interesting, is it not? Parliament has told those of us, the wretched of the earth, from whom they come chasing for votes in the cycle of four years to earn themselves the right to the Honourable tag in the House, that our views are not important in formulating development policies for this nation.
On Thursday, December 9, 2010, the House, precisely the majority side, waved aside our loud protests and voted by 97 votes to 87, to let the whole wide world know that all the 25-million inhabitants of this land have no voice in deciding how our oil money should be used.
A former Minister of Energy, who ended his brief as ex-President John Agyekum Kufuor’s Minister of Defence, said voting for an amendment to Cause Five of the Oil Revenue Management Bill, was like eating lunch and supper at breakfast.
On the other hand, the Deputy Energy Minister, Alhaji Inusah Fuseini, the man who is expected to drive the nation’s oil policy, says the amendment is consistent with provisions of the bill.
Whatever gloss proponents put on the amendment, by that vote, our oil revenue has become available to be used as collateral for loans. They say the loans are for development, and we have no right to decide how it is even fashioned out. Two years from now, they would come chasing for our votes. I assure the House, and especially, those who were whipped into line by the Vice-President’s ‘foolish’ and ‘baloney’ talk at Winneba, that some of us would draw on our natural instincts, and deny them the thumb.
Like someone said the other day, ‘you do me I do you.’ But, what would influence ordinary beings representing the people to decide ultimately that the people should not feature in the scheme of things immediately after the publication of the Green Book of phantom achievements?
Take it from me, that vote was not for development. It was a decision taken to save the umbrella from total collapse at the polls in two years time. With the so-called ‘Better Ghana Agenda’ floundering, Government House decided to call on its numbers in the House to garner some resources with one eye on the polls.
In the 1990s ‘koobi’ ‘bentoa’ and chamber pot were enough to keep the umbrella covering the misdeeds of those who conceived the idea of converting the oppression of the people, achieved through the barrel of the gun on December 31, 1981, into the rule by popular choice, in which the wishes of the people were largely ignored.
In the computer age, and with Stan Dogbe alone employing GH¢160,000 from the people’s purse on an education campaign which ended with more people unable to conceptualise the gains in Dr. Kwabena Duffuor’s Budget statement of the previous year, those pulling the strings to get the puppet of an umbrella still floating, hit on a bright idea of resourcing footsoldiers to move faster on their stomachs.
When the President directs that Ministers, District Chief Executives and other government officials should pay more attention to footsoldiers, the call is even more pronounced with barely two years to face the electorate.
Kakum Rural Bank
Even with the urgent need to resource the umbrella and prevent it from falling, the amendment would not sit well with most economists. “Indeed, as a country, we have adopted a debt-driven development strategy, instead of the savings-led strategy for development employed by the advanced countries,” laments Mr. Samuel T. Sackey, Chief Executive Officer of the Kakum Rural Bank, at the bank’s award ceremony at the Elmina Beach Resort, where 20 customers were honoured a day after Parliament had voted to mortgage our oil revenue.
Expanding on his theory at a meeting with journalists after the ceremony, Mr. Sackey said it was not always advisable to take loans for projects. It is usually advisable to save for a rainy day, rather than resort to borrowing, because the interest burden could be overwhelming.
“It is not always desirous to take loans. The interest burden is always overwhelming. You can take loans for production. If you take loans for consumption, you’re digging your own grave.”
He said political loans had not helped the micro-finance business in this country. Apart from the low level of repayment, the recipients were not motivated to work hard. They invariably, see it as a reward for their patronage of the political party in power advancing the loans.
“To help the poor in this society, we should not erase the finance base,” the CEO warned.
Mr. Sackey said the Kakum Rural Bank had initiated various saving schemes, from which customers could patronise to move themselves away from poverty. “We have the Kakum Klassic Account for the upper segment of the market. This is a hybrid current account, and a negotiable certificate of deposit. For those in the bottom of the pyramid, we have developed the Enyidado Micro Finance product, which targets the unbanked.
“The bank has also developed the Mpontu Fie, which is an innovation to make it the centre of micro-finance in the country,” said the Chief Executive Officer.
Mr. Sackey told the gathering that the banking industry in Ghana was changing rapidly. “Electronic banking solutions such as e-Zwich, E-fass, ATM’s and Cheque Codeline Clearing have made the payment system faster, safer and more efficient.”
Innovations in banking
In the same way that the new innovations had revolutionlised the banking industry, they also “present a greater challenge to the rural banking Industry. In order to stay competitive, we have adapted the behaviour of our bank to the changes in the banking environment.” Mr. Sackey said the Kakum Rural Bank, which began life as the Edinaman Rural Bank in February 1980, now has 10 branches. “We have successfully networked five of our branches. The other five will be networked by May 2011. This will pave the way for the deployment of ATM’s by July 2011.”
The Kakum Rural Bank has developed “client-responsive products such as the Mbofra Daama Savings Account, which is a trust account that can be opened by parents for their children, immediately after the naming ceremony. The Account will be managed by parents until the child is 18 years. It is envisaged that this product will help inculcate into children, the culture of savings.”
Kakum is not all about profit. It plays a lead role in improving the lot of the deprived society it operates in. “Ours is not just a profit-oriented bank. We have our profit objectives though, but we also have a strong social mission.”
Over the years, Kakum has contributed towards the development of agriculture by making regular contributions towards the National Farmers and Fishers Day celebrations with prizes. “We have also adopted the Children’s Ward of the Central Regional Hospital, and support them with equipment yearly. We give scholarships yearly to brilliant but needy students in the Senior High schools and tertiary institutions.”
Ghana Club 100
In 2005, the Kakum Rural Bank was admitted into Ghana Club 100, the collection of the nation’s best 100 enterprises. “We are happy to state that due to the contribution of all stakeholders, we have been able to annually maintain our membership. In the year 2009, Kakum was rated the 77th best enterprise in the country.”
The bank was established in February 1980 with the late Brigadier P.K. Mensah-Brown as the first Chairman. On the 30thanniversary of the founding of the bank, 20 customers were honoured.
It is not always that a rural bank survives and contributes so much to the community. The Kakum Rural Bank has listened to the voice of its community and paid its dues accordingly.
How one would have wished that the 97 members of the House, who jettisoned the wishes of the people and voted to keep the umbrella afloat, had listened more to the voice of the people, which invariably, is the voice of God.
Having voted as they did, the members of the Majority side broke their link with the people. It is the duty of some of us to educate the people to know what to do when members of the Umbrella party come soliciting for the people’s vote. You do me I do you!