Sir Sam Jonah has said Ghanaian governments can save the unborn generation a “sense of hopelessness and helplessness” by investing in all aspects of the economy.
In a speech to Rotarians in Accra titled ‘Down the up escalator – Reflections on Ghana’s future by a senior citizen’, the executive chairman of Jonah Capital, an equity fund based in Johannesburg, South Africa, said the combined effect of the country’s huge debt stock and the negative prospects for her gold, cocoa, oil and remittances as major contributors to national revenue, bodes ill consequences for the generations yet to come and, thus, proposed investment in all aspects of the economy to avert the consequence.
“How do we avoid this situation? Well, in my view, we can only do so through investment in all sectors of the economy; I will now put on my investor cap and ask this question. Given that I have a choice in where I put my money, what will I like to see in my country to make it the preferred destination for my investment? Every investor has got a choice. So, I am asking you, if you were an investor, what would you like to see in a Ghanaian business environment which will make you want to put your capital here?”
“We are all celebrating the good news of Ghana being chosen as the host of the Africa free Trade Secretariat and the government should be commended for this remarkable development”, he said, but noted: “However, we can only realise the benefits if we become the most competitive economy on the continent. We are nowhere there. [I] am afraid we have a lot of work to do to attain this status”.
He said a research and advisory firm Konfidant, reported that Ghana fell short on almost all AFCFTA competitive indicators.
These area cost of credit, cost of power, productive capacity, customs efficiency, trade logistics and dependency on foreign input.
Investment promotion, Mr Jonah said, “is like a beauty pageant”.
“The reward goes to the country which is adjudged to be the most attractive as an investment destination. What conditions create the conducive environment for investment in any country?”
“Let us look at our situation. One of the key considerations for investment is governance. We have elected governments since 1992 to steer our affairs. But the very nature of our democratic set-up is our undoing. The three arms of government are like a tripod. For stability, each leg must have enough strength to stand.
“In our system, one leg i.e the executive has more strength than the other two combined. In fact, the two seem to derive their strengths from that of the executive, thus weakening checks and balances. Any party that comes to power has absolute power to do whatever they want.
“The 1992 Constitution is the basis for the current democratic dispensation. It created a monstrous executive which looms large over the other arms of the governance structure, and for 28 years, we have failed to make any meaningful changes to strengthen our democracy. Actually, what we have is an ‘Executocracy’ not a democracy”, he observed, adding: “The President is supposed to appoint the majority of his ministers from Parliament. By definition, that makes Parliament a rubber stamp, because no MP in the ruling party will be able to stand up and demand accountability from the executive – they are all scrambling for positions! The Judiciary is no different”.
“The President has a determining role in the appointment of all the judges of the Supreme Court including the Chief Justice. This festers the perception that the situation compromises the impartiality and independence of the judiciary. Indeed, a large section of the citizenry believe that the judiciary is not impartial with 85% of Ghanaians in a recent Afrobarometer survey perceiving the judiciary as corrupt and ineffective”, he bemoaned.
“My own personal experience with the judiciary is that of frustration, lengthy and costly proceedings. Some lawyers take pride in being masters of legal gymnastics. Every opportunity to delay cases are seized”.
“The Commercial Courts which were set up to speed up the dispensation of justice have been a huge disappointment. Disputes involving land overwhelm the courts. Land acquisition is a most important factor in investment decision making. Any prolonged litigation over land frustrates the investor”.