On Wednesday 29 July 2020, I tuned in online to programme presenter Afia Pokuah’s “Gyaso Gyaso” programme. She was interviewing an NDC Member of Parliament on how he finds presidential-candidate John Dramani Mahama’s campaign policies on introducing Financial Services Authority in Ghana if he won elections 2020, his readiness to pay all customers who lost their savings to the collapsed and/or consolidated banks and microfinance companies, and the President’s directive to Auditor-General Daniel Yaw Domelevo to start his accumulated annual paid holiday leave.
The MP could clearly be heard fumbling for tangible answers. He was not being convincing with his answers, leaving one to wonder if such is the calibre of the current crop of lawmakers Ghana has. If yes, there is no doubt that Ghana is mired in a cyclical poverty, corruption, and without a way out.
The MP, although a member on the Parliamentary Finance Committee, could not credibly convince the host of the programme, myself and probably the majority of the public audience with his answers.
On the Financial Services Authority (FSA) to be introduced by John Mahama to ensure banking discipline in Ghana to avoid the recurrence of banks deliberately criminally going insolvent to need government bailout, he cited the benefit of such a body in the financial and economic prosperity of the United Kingdom as was introduced by the former British Exchequer and Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
Such a body has supervisory oversight on the banks to relieve the Central Bank of its cumbersome duty of monitoring the banks and at the same time managing the economic finances of the government. By this, he seems to bring in separation of duties to ensure close and effective monitoring to bring about the best in such bodies or institutions for the general interests of the country and the people.
However, he failed to tell that with the total monetary independence of the Bank of Ghana from government meddling, the Bank of Ghana could monitor and supervise the banks in addition to their other central duties of managing the economy for the government. The creation of the Financial Services Authority will be ineffective should the body be still controlled stringently by the government.
There is evidence that the Bank of Ghana had investigated most of the banks among whom were the recently collapsed and consolidated banks, under former President John Dramani Mahama’s NDC government. The report on their findings and suggestions as were presented to then President John Dramani Mahama’s NDC government were never followed through but pushed under the carpet.
Therefore, the MP should have explained how the FSA will work to bring sanity into the banking sector but he could not analytically answer that question despite insistence by Afia Pokuah.
On the collapse and consolidation of some banks and microfinance companies, the MP could not make me proud but rather ashamed.
In answer to the question about why and how some banks have collapsed under the NPP government and how does he see the promise by John Mahama to pay all the outstanding money owed by the collapsed banks to their customers, his answer was completely infantile. No wonder the answer was coming from a member of the NDC. They are people who think about themselves first before the wellbeing of the general Ghanaian public hence always being economical with the truth.
He said, the collapsing of the banks and microfinance companies by the NPP government has brought undue economic hardships upon the general public. It has brought about unemployment, lack of availability of money to the people etc.
What baffles me most is his questioning of the government’s rationale behind collapsing the banks and then offering to pay or paying the customers of those banks who have lost their money to the banks. He asked, what is the sense in the government collapsing the banks for their incapacity to pay their customers, owing them a total of about GHS19 billion while the government goes for GHS21 billion to pay the customers? Why could the government not sensibly have given the banks the lesser figure of GHS19 billion to let the banks stay afloat to help the economy, he queried?
This argument by him in the surface sounds intelligent but when one dives deeper into it, he was not being honest to the Ghanaian people. How did the banks come to be collapsed, a question that we need to ask and seek answers to.
The banks in the first place ran into financial difficulties right under former President John Dramani Mahama’s NDC government. He bailed them out. The Bank of Ghana gave them liquidity support running into hundreds of millions, or if not hundreds of billions, of Ghana New Cedis.
In less than no time that the government’s liquidity support had been given to them, evidence in the public domain indicates that some shareholders of the banks voraciously availed themselves of the money. They shared the money among themselves as though they were scrambling for free tomatoes in the market place. They took the money as loans without even going through the standing credible banking procedures for granting loans to customers.
This happened under John Dramani Mahama, the head of corruption. If the president himself is corruptly availing himself of the nation’s money illegally, why not the shareholders of the banks, they may have asked themselves?
What was the guarantee that the banks would not have equally misused the money if the NPP government had offered them a second bailout? The MP could not offer any intelligible answer here. Does a useful admonition not forewarn us thus, “Once bitten, twice shy?” Why should further taxpayers’ money be thrown down the drain?
Was the consolidated UT Bank not established by the receivers to have loaned the younger sibling of then President John Dramani Mahama GHS302 million, without following proper banking lending procedures? There was no collateral to fall on in the event of the borrower refusing to pay back the loan. Now, he has refused to pay even a pesewa to the bank and all the attempts to get President Mahama advise his brother to make efforts to pay back the loan proved futile. Could his failure to honour his promise to pay back the loan not have contributed to the bank becoming insolvent hence its ultimate consolidation? This rogue behaviour was not unique to UT Bank but others also.
For some personal reasons, painful of course, I don’t want to write about the collapsed banks but the NDC Member of Parliament has by his deplorable partisan explanations touched off this skirmish.
When Afia Pokuah asked him about the President’s directive to Auditor-General Daniel Yaw Domelevo to proceed on leave to exhaust his accumulated annual paid holiday, he proved himself a total misfit in his post as a lawmaker. If such is the calibre of Ghana lawmakers, then I am afraid there is no wonder that laws are not working in Ghana, giving rise to ramifications of crimes and lawlessness in the country.
To sum up all that he said in the twists and turns of the questions posed to him on the Auditor-General Domelevo starting his leave as directed by the President, he accepted that yes, Domelevo has accrued accumulated paid annual holidays but why did the President not ask him to go on leave two years or a year ago but now that we are in election year? Again, he is not the only public officer in Ghana that has accumulated accrued annual paid holidays leave so why is he the only one being directed by the President to proceed on leave to exhaust his annual paid holiday but not the many others? He further went on to say it is all because Domelevo is an incorruptible person, an anti-corruption personality who is exposing the corruption by the NPP government that is why the President feeling so uncomfortable has directed him to proceed on leave to conceal their malfeasances. He was churning out a lot of completely irresponsible explanations unbefitting of a lawmaker.
Let me ask that NDC lawmaker the following questions if at all he will not make same stupid arguments.
1. Is legally right for public officers in Ghana to accumulate their paid annual holiday leave for years on end without ever dreaming to proceed on leave to exhaust such accrued holidays?
2. Does the MP know that it is mandatory for a public officer to have annual paid holiday leave which cannot be relinquished by any agreement or to forgo such leave?
3. Does it matter when a public officer without intention to go on leave but keeps accumulating them is directed to take his leave?
4. If there are many public officers in Ghana who are accumulating their paid annual holidays leave, does it negate the legality of a directive to a public officer who has accumulated his leave over three years or more to go on leave? Is asking him to go on leave not grounded in law? If it is, what then is wrong about directing such a public officer to go on leave to finish his accrued but accumulated annual paid holidays?
5. Is the President aware of the other many public officers that have accumulated and continue to accumulate their annual paid holiday leave? Has anyone brought any names of such public officers to the attention of the President but he has hypocritically failed to act on them, by not directing them to proceed on leave?
6. How does he conclude that Mr Domelevo is fighting against the NPP government’s corruption that is the motive behind the President’s directive to him to proceed on leave? Is this negative perception not the figment of the MP’s mind?
To conclude, for a lawmaker to express such views is very unfortunate and a denigration of the image of Ghana Parliament. The politicians going on air to express their views, explain the laws or policies should bear in mind that they are being listened to all over the world so they must be circumspect, knowledgeable and well-informed on the subjects but not to allow themselves to be carried away by their political bigotry to talk anyhow or else, they risk making themselves fools in the eyes of the worldwide public.