Waakye, the economy and my vote

Kenneth Ghartey

If you are registered to vote in December’s elections (and you should be…), I have a few things on my mind to share with you as I sit here salivating behind my Saturday morning waakye. Running the economy prudently is not rocket science! I dare say that it is much like the considerations that should guide the waakye I buy on Saturdays. Let’s talk. Suppose I have GHs10 only and suppose you add GHs10 to my kitty and I go out and buy Waakye, Egg, Wele and Cassava Fish all amounting to GHs20, will that be sensible? That is called FINANCING THE GROWING BUDGET DEFICIT WITH UNDESERVED DONOR SUPPORT. In the end you become too reliant on the extra, you grow fat and you die. Now imagine that in my poor state, I have the arrogance to add ‘salad’ to the stash by borrowing GHs3 from YOU each time I go to buy waakye promising to pay back GHs4 next year. That is a BOND ISSUE with no developmental objective. Now, suppose it is time to pay you back your GHs4. I have asked the waakye seller to add two wele and an extra egg to my plate on credit. I have asked Kwame to give me GHs7 and I pay off your GHs4 loan due. Now I owe both Kwame and the Waakye seller GHs7. That is DEBT REFINANCING WITH GOVERNMENT BONDS. If it is not injected in a revenue generating enterprise, it is reckless and lacks common sense. Now suppose that all the money I earn in the average year is GHs1000. I have eaten waakye at all the popular spots around Accra that I now owe you and some other people GHs700 on December 31st. That is a PUBLIC DEBT TO GDP RATIO of 70%. I claim I am proud of this because my debts have not yet exceeded my annual income of GHs1000. And then I proceed to tell you about Kojo who earns GHs800 a year and owes GHs1100 in waakye bills. Cry your own cry! My neighbours have now realised my immense stupidity but are aware that I will borrow more to pay off my old debts. I ask them for GHs200 to pay off my debtors next January. They collectively offer me GHs400 by increasing the interest rate from 6.78% to over 10%. Now I go over immediately to the waakye seller to brag that my bonds were OVERSUBSCRIBED and it is a measure of my economy’s soundness. In celebration, I add a Coke to the waakye and ask for macaroni. Now my wife and children are complaining that I am eating the waakye all alone and growing fat at their expense. I announce a pocket money increase and promise everyone free waakye next Saturday to calm the tensions. That is INCREASING PUBLIC SECTOR WAGES with no commensurate increase in government revenue. It is unsustainable! My hardworking nephew decides to support me out of love every Saturday morning by paying for the two wele. Every month, I ask for even more wele and salad. That is OVERTAXING the already narrow tax target i.e. honest formal income earners and corporate bodies. These show you that the attempt to make our beloved country’s economic decisions look like rocket science is a continuing deception. The future of our economy worries me greatly and it is one of the factors that will influence whom I help to make our next President.

Originally published at www.ghanaweb.com.