It was a weird set up. There were seats on stage for the panel to sit, but they only went up for the question and answer session. Instead, the panel sat down in the first row of where the audience was sitting so each person had to go up onto the stage to give their presentation and back down again. Logistically awkward in my opinion but I wasn’t the organiser so what can I say.
The first presentation came from the majority leader. It was a talk on how well Ghana was doing in the last 2 years. Inflation down, GDP doing great, economy improving, free high school education implemented. I do have to commend them on the free high school education, it pained me driving through Accra seeing little boys and girls hawking on the streets when they should be at school. Something that I was given as a right as a child here in the UK and not a privilege, I do hope that subsequent governments do not get greedy and take this right away.
He also touched on the importation tax which has been recently slashed. The spin was that they listened to the people in the diaspora and realised that costs were way too high. Too be honest, I don’t know how anything in Ghana is priced, everything is so expensive and you feel like it was taken out of the air. If you read between the lines, in the past year Ghana’s importation has increased by 4% and Togo’s has increased by 300%. A large percentage of Togo’s increases come from Ghanaians who to avoid the absurdly high taxes in Ghana deciding to go through Lome and trying their luck to smuggle their (mainly) cars into Ghana. The Togolese government, well they haven’t been playing ball in stopping this because it’s money in their pockets so Ghana has finally had to take action.
The government also patted themselves on the back for increasing passports from 5 years to 10 years. Now when I got my passport in 2008, it was a 10 year passport, somewhere between then and April 2019 this was reduced to 5 years, why, I don’t know. Please don’t pat yourself on the back for doing the right thing.
Following on from uncle majority leader, there was a presentation from the Sales and Marketing Manager for Ghana Ports and Harbour authority on the different ports and harbours and expansion projects, it was a bit rushed due to time but there were slides. I would love to share the link to where these slides are but that information was not given to us.
After that, there was a presentation from a representative from Ghana Revenue Authority on setting up a business and tax laws and some guy who presented a very confusing talk on importation tax (again rushed due to time even though this was what everyone was interested in).
Lastly there was the question and answer session. Now why can’t Ghanaians just ask a straight out question without having to give a whole background story, then repeating the question about three times. They got it the first time, let it be and give the mic back so somebody else can ask a question. There were some really good questions and some really bad questions, unfortunately I didn’t write them down so everything I write down is coming from memory.
There was a lot of questions around corruption and basically what was the point of the special prosecution office. The deputy attorney general was on the panel and gave a lot of lawyer speak which didn’t actually answer the question. The highlight of the night, Mr Charles Bissue was at the programme (as an observer not a guest), is currently under investigation for illegal mining after an expose came out. Somebody in the audience straight outed him and a little bit of damage control had to be done from the minister and deputy minister for information.
Some points that came out from the Q&A session are:
The government will be rolling out one ambulance to every district.
The $1.2billion dollars owed to the NHIS has been paid, so in theory it should be running like a NHIS service and you shouldn’t have to pay up front before you are even seen.
There have been 79 factory projects identified and to be signed off under the 1 district 1 factory initiative.
Airport officials who have been caught taking bribes have been sanctioned and initiatives are rolling out across the public service to curb bribery and corruption.
Railway projects are under way.
Not sure what’s happening about National ID cards and the ability for Ghanaians in the Diaspora to vote because the answer was a bit sketchy.
Somebody asked if UK cars could be exported to Ghana, waste of a question.
Speak to the Trade Officer in the UK if you want to import Made in Ghana products into the UK but do not meet international standards.
That’s all that I can remember for now, but apparently the event was live streamed so you could probably go to the Ghana High Commission website for further details (www.ghanahighcommissionuk.com)
Next events are on the 3rd May with the homecoming Ghana media launch, on 18th May is the homecoming Ghana roadshow being held at the Ghana High Commission Belgrave Square.
This event could have been so much more valuable if it was better organised and started on time, but hey this is Ghana, we set the bar low.