It looks like a 3,000 m steeplechase obstacle race and in the lead is NPP, who seems to be out of breath with NDC closely behind, galloping faster and stronger.
At the final water jump, the NPP fell flat into the pond, but managed to lift himself up and struggled on to maintain the lead. What willhappen during the last 150 meters as the NDC seems to have more energy and is at full throttle? Will the NPP lose the first position and place second in this event?
The year is 2023 and with the economic crunch blowing up Ghanaians, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) is in full blast, convincing Ghanaians that it is the best alternativeto form government. To this extent, the NDC has started making ridiculous and reckless campaign promises that are unattainable. But again, the ordinary Ghanaian will accept them, hook, line and sinker.
In 2008, the NDC promised to introduce a One-Term Premium policy on the health insurance and reduce ex-pump fuel prices drastically. When it took over in 2009, it went dead throughout its eight years in power, on the One Term Premium and as for the ex-pump fuel prices, what Kufuor sold to Ghanaians when the world oil price was $145.00 per barrel, the NDC increased the price by 70% even when the world petroleum market price had dropped to under $80.00 a barrel.
Recently, the Nana Addo administration, increased the producer price of cocoa from GH¢800.00 per 64 kg bag to GH¢1,380.00. This means a metric tonne of cocoa will be bought by government from the farmers at $1,861.79. With the world market price at $3,644.00, government will earn $1,782.21 or 48.91% for every metric tonne.
And this is what the NDC is saying, the farmers have been shortchanged. Instead of allowing the cocoa farmers to celebrate the increase in earnings, the largest opposition party, rather went to the cocoa forests to make what is good look evil. And this can be said to be like a blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.
During the NDC era in 2009, the government bought a metric tonne of cocoa from farmers at $1,457.28 and sold it on the world market for $2,897.00, earning $1,439.72 or 49.70%. In election year of 2016, the NDC government increased the producer price per metric tonne of cocoa to $1,702.72, and with the world market price of metric tonne at $3,132.00, it earned $1,429.28 or 45.63%.
In all three scenarios, 2009, 2016 and 2023, government earns less than the farmers, from sale of cocoa.
Insisting that the cocoa farmers were mistreated and shortchanged, the NDC rolled out a misleading promise that could see the farmers hailing and praising the opposition party, and pledging their support to make sure that a JDM led government leads Ghana in 2025.
The NDC, led by people who should know better like Hon Cassiel Forson, has promised that come 2025, all things being equal, the producer price of cocoa will be GH¢2,800.00 a bag of 64 kg, or $3,810.79 per metric tonne. Having said that, all things being equal with the world market price at $3,644.00, government will be losing $166.99 for every metric tonne.
Fellow readers, there are going to be problems. With the projected annual production of cocoa by the end ofthe fourth quarter of this year at 750,000 metric tonnes, it will mean, all things being equal, the government of the NDC must go looking for $125,235,000.00to settle full payments for our cocoa farmers, every year. This will work out to $500,940,000.00 in four years. Over half a billion dollars, borrowed to satisfied a non-productive venture.
I hope the NDC has realised the fallacy in this reckless promise and will start finding ways of convincing the cocoa farmers in general and Ghanaians in particular that it goofed, big time. Then it should go ahead and apologise to Ghanaians,blaming this loose talk on the party’s addictionof making reckless unattainable promises, whenever it is in opposition.
The problem will seriously aggravate whenever world prices dropped as to be expected. As things stand, the average lowest price from 2016 to date is $2,302.47 per MT. Assuming that cocoa prices drop down to hover around $2,302.47, then an NDC government must find an additional $1,508.51, to be able to fully pay the cocoa farmer, the $3,810.98 for one metric tonne, as promised.
Government will have to borrow $1,131,382,500.00 every year or $4,525,530,000.00 in four years to settle a highly unproductive venture. Over $4.5 billion (GH¢51.3 billion) wasted and to be found among the Red in our accounts.
If the NDC will not want to borrow, then it will have to increase taxes to support this reckless policy. And trust the NDC it can implement high tax regimes without shame or pity on the people. We know of the 17.5% VAT on Financial Transactions; it implemented when last in office. VAT on financial transactions? This can only happen in Ghana, and the NDC may surely reintroduce this.
What about E-Levy? No matter how hard it attacked the NPP for the latter’s 1.00% E-Levy, the NDC who intended to introduce this levy as it stated in its 2020 People’s Manifesto, will pass it into law and Ghanaians should embrace themselves and pay nothing less than 12.5% E-Levy.
The Peoples Manifesto of the NDC in Chapter 8 (7c, states): The new NDC government will… introduce a uniform transaction fee policy to guide the electronic payments industry. VAT will also go up and so will all other taxes, levies and commissions.
Everybody will be hard hit, including the cocoa farmer, who will soon realise that the huge purse he earns for his cocoa, will amount to nothing as high taxes and very high cost of living quickly erode the money away.
Ifhowever, the NDC decides to drop the producer price, it will ignite a fierce battle with cocoa farmers, who will feel shortchanged.
Cocoa wars have happened before and the first ever was in 1954. Records show that it has never been the desire of the Nkrumaists/Pro-Socialists/NDC to increase producer price of cocoa and make the formers enjoy good living. So, this unattainable promise made to cocoa farmers by the NDC will never materialise even if the NDC stays decades in power.
Lying to cocoa farmers was first by Kwame Nkrumah and this became one of the reasons, the National Liberation Movement (NLM) was founded.
Before the NLM was founded, the whole of the Ashanti region, then, comprising today’s Ashanti region, Ahafo region, Bono region and Bono East region, was a strong CPP region with majority of the people (about 95%) voting for the CPP.
But in 1954, almost all of the CPP in Ashanti defected to help found the NLM, based on four main reasons.
Firstly, was the creation of constituencies, which left Ashantis feeling cheated because though it was the most densely populated region, the number of constituencies as per the 1953 Van Lare Commission, was increased only by 2 seats from 19 to 21.
The North was increased by 7 seats from 19 to 26; the Colony by 7 from 37 to 44 and Trans Volta Togoland by 5 from 8 to 13.
The whole of Ashanti, including the CPP, demanded an increase to 30 seats. But their pleas were turned down.
Secondly, changes in the new local government system, targeted traditional leaders, who were deprived off traditional powers and source of wealth; something the founding fathers of this nation, which included the Aborigines Rights Protection Society (ARPS) in 1897 and J.B. Danquah and his Youth Conference, 1937, the West African Youth League, 1937, among others had fought against the British, on.
Thirdly, there was dissatisfaction among the CPP youth about the dictatorial tendencies of the Party and centralisation of power which resulted in among others, the imposition of Members of the Legislative Assembly, in what we will call MPs today, on them.
And fourthly, during his campaign for re-election in 1954, Nkrumah, promised to increase the producer price of cocoa from £4.00 to £5.00 per load. But after he won the 1954 Elections, he rather reduced the producer price to £3 12s and hedged it for four years. The government was paying the cocoa farmer, £130.06 ($365.48).
Interestingly in 1954 the world market price of cocoa was £427.05 ($1,200.00) per ton. And Nkrumah gave only £130.06($365.48) per ton to the farmer, which is 30.46% of the world market price.
This is what we call shortchange, if the NDC do not understand the word. And this will surely befall our cocoa farmers if they listen to what the NDC is saying about producer price of cocoa, today.
From the onset, this promise cannot be attained. Nkrumah used this trick to make the farmers vote massively for him. One thing they might have forgotten was that Nkrumah was seeking re-elections and he had the powers then to increase the producer price of cocoa before the 1954 General Elections.
Anyway, the farmers had faith in him and supported him to get re-elected, only for him to turn he his back on them and reduced the producer price and hedged it for four years.
Today, the cocoa farmers are getting GH¢1,380.00 and are very pleased with government. The NDC is saying it could do better and even pay more than the world market price. If this is not a ponzi scheme, then I do not know what it is.
Cocoa farmers in particular and Ghanaians in general must beware of such unattainable promises by the NDC, especially at a time when things are rough and tough.
With 150 meters to go in the 3,000 meter steeplechase race, the NPP is still in the lead, staggering on. With the NDC coming strongly from behind, the question is who will win the race? Who will Ghanaians give the nod to, a party that says things as they are or a party that twists the truth and make unattainable promises?
Hon Daniel Dugan