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The $20 Bill

A well-known speaker started off his seminar by holding up a $20 bill. In the room of several hundred people, he asked, “Who would like this $20 bill?”

Hands started going up.

He said, “I am going to give this $20 to one of you, but first, let me do this.” He proceeded to crumple the dollar bill up.

He then asked, “Who still wants it?”

Still the hands were up in the air.

“Well,” he replied, “What if I do this?”

And he dropped it on the ground and started to grind it into the floor with his shoe.

He picked it up, now all crumpled and dirty.

“Now who still wants it?”

Still the hands went into the air.

“My friends, you have all learned a very valuable lesson. No matter what I did to the money, you still wanted it because it did not decrease in value. It was still worth $20.

“Many times in our lives, we are dropped, crumpled and ground into the dirt by the decisions we make and the circumstances that come our way.

“We feel as though we are worthless. But no matter what has happened or what will happen, you will never lose your value in God’s eyes.

“To Him, dirty or clean, crumpled or finely creased, you are still priceless.”

Psalm 17:8 states that God will keep us, “as the apple of His eye.”

The worth of our lives comes not in what we do or who we are but by whose we are.

–Author Unknown

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Job Information
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A PRACTICAL MANAGEMENT TIP

I have studied and practiced many forms of management strategies. In refinement, I find this to be the most effective – Building a team of creative thinking leaders, rather than being the only leader with “built-up” subordinates. Here’s how it has worked for me:

(i) Clearly define the problem to your team/workers and a provide justifications why it needs to be solved
(ii) Spell out very concisely and tightly, the results you want to have
(iii) List down very clearly, the resources they have available for the task – i.e. time, monetary, human support, etc
(iv) Leave them to get on with it and ignore their initial cries that they don’t believe they can get it done (babies always cry until they discover they can climb the table)

I have found out it helps people build their own creative problem solving skills that suites their own personalities, gives them ownership of solutions (and therefore, buy-ins), it is great motivation for them to know that they somewhat engineered a solution that became part of the bigger picture success.

We need to shift from the Management Attitudes that appear like “employees are only told what to do, and they do it, Period”. The truth is, the so-called manager, as soon as he puts himself in the position of “I am the only one who really knows how to get it done, so I’ll order everybody else to do it my way” – has set the entire team up to fail, including himself.

EPA – A BLIND SIDE PERSPECTIVE

Charles Kofi Fekpe

I have listened and read far and wide on the EPA and tge myriad of arguments and analysis made by think-tanks and non-think-reservoirs and for me, this is where the big picture comes to:

The whole EPA issue seems a sort of “trading capabilities gap-bridging” mechanism between beauty and the beast, or better still, David and Goliath for which a solution is being sought through reciprocity.

I have often asked myself the question “does Sub Saharan Africa need to face up to its own “demon-consequences” of inefficiency, non-competitiveness and non-productivity? Why do we always have to be “the other guys” in the global economy boardroom who must be treated with a lot more care and a bit more leniency? Why arent the same EPA terms applicable to our neighbours in North Africa? How long can we continue to use economic and trade technicalities to argue, that we deserve preferential treatments rather than attempting to do what we have to do to stand up in the room and get counted?

The world is becoming a den, in which the fittest survive. The truth is even without the EPA we will, at least in the medium term continue to be dependent on the EU market because we have failed to develop and explore our own regional opportunities for starters. The EU on the other hand will always find creative ways around their dilemmas.

If we dont deal with our real underlying non-productivity, non-competitiveness, inefficiency and lack of creativity, we will continue to believe the negotiation table is the place to trade our “incapacity” for “economic preferences” and that, my brothers and sisters is what makes us appear weak eveb before we start negotiations.

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“Making our Constitution Work for Ghanaians”

The 1992 Constitution moved Ghana from a military dictatorship the PNDC led by its Chairman, Flt. Lt. J. J. Rawlings to a democratic form of government. Some have said that the 1992 Constitution was essentially designed and carefully chaperoned/guided to enable the replacement of the military dictatorship with dictatorship of a democratic kind, the dominance of an executive President. Along with that, the head of the military government, became the founder of a political party who then shed his military clothes for civilian ones but retained his stranglehold on the country. A well-orchestrated Constituent Assembly with representatives from all corners of Ghanaian society sat and debated a script meant to convince the military dictator to hand over power.

Hand over he did, to himself. And Transitional Provisions inserted into the Constitution protected the usurper of the people’s power and his accomplices from being held to account for their actions.

This is not unusual in Africa. Equatorial Guinea, Gambia, Uganda are countries with military leaders turned civilian Presidents. The Egyptian military has ridden the back of a popular protest movement against its former President Moubarak and disenchantment with an elected civilian President Morsi to take over the country. Now the head of the army has resigned to prepare to run to become the next President of Egypt.

My opinion, formed through experience as an elected member of the KEEA District Assembly, Member of Parliament, Cabinet Minister and Entrepreneur is that until we change the constitution to remove the dictatorship of the President, our liberties will remain under threat. The economy will continue to benefit a few with the vast majority of the people remaining very poor. Our current form and practice of democracy does not enable local initiative or enterprise. Everything revolves around the center, one person, in Accra and promotes dependency of the worst type. For this to change, the Constitution must be amended.

In January 2010, the President of Ghana, at the time the late Prof. John Evans Atta Mills, established the Constitution Review Commission as a separate entity. The Commission was formed to submit recommendations—in consultation with Ghanaian citizens—regarding amendments to the constitution. A report has been submitted to government, a White Paper published and an Implementation Committee formed. If Ghanaians do not get involved to reverse what is going on now, we would have wasted valuable time and money (more than $6 million and counting) on this Commission, and nothing significant will change.

Get involved. Let your voices be heard. Help make Ghana Great & Strong through the month of April, 2014, “Saturday Night with Dr. Nduom – Ghana Great & Strong” on www.hedjorleonlineradio.com will focus on the need to change the 1992 Constitution to make it work better for all Ghanaians. I will set the stage and subsequently invite Members of Parliament, NGOs, business people and many others to use this platform to discuss the need for change.

Papa Kwesi Nduom
March 29, 2014

KOJOKROM – THE CRITICAL THINKING OF OUR FUTURE

By; Charles Kofi Fekpe


The world has moved in a new direction – a direction I pray everyday, that we and our leaders see, understand and embrace:

A nation’s competitive advantage no more lies in its natural resources or specialized production units, but in the brainpower and critical thinking ability of its citizens. The real advantage today is in thinking ourselves into the future, before anyone else gets there. It is a bold statement to make, but the Economic Philosophies of Adam Smith is dead, and so are our old stock of economic thinkers.

**Parents need to treat our children differently when they ask “WHY”. We need to help them discover real answers and not shut them up everytime.
**As businesses and employees, we need to always be thinking about better and more efficient ways of delivering. This is no more for the CEO. Executives need to become lovers of change and listeners of their own employees.
**Students need to question and viciously challenge their lecturers and lecturers need to continually force their brains to be ahead of the game
** Government needs to overhaul our educational system. Train teachers to be critical thinkers themselves and to teach students that historical answers don’t always hold and that they themselves can be the answers Ghana needs. In the new world, the teacher is NOT always right. Education should no more be about getting students to memorize “what has been” but to conceptualize “what must become”.
**Spiritual leaders must begin to inspire their congregations to know our brains are formed in the image of God, not for feebleness or resignation, but for creativity of the highest divine order

And if we don’t get this right, our focus is wrong, our energies will be channeled wrongly…. and so too, our future!! This is NOT a prophecy, it is TRUTH!! A truth upon which our future rests.

Development is NOT in building non-value-adding-roads it is in raising value-creating-brains, consciously, purposefully and with aggressive intent!

#Critically #Thinking #The #New #Ghana

MINOR INDIGESTIONS FROM THE BAWUMIA LECTURE

By  Charles Kofi Fekpe

 

Introduction:

It is very common knowledge, that a camel can go without water for many many days – interestingly, research shows a giraffe can go without water, much longer.. It makes me wonder how long Ghana can go on without a stable economic life or better still, a solid mechanism to quickly and effectively stabilize any misdirected economic accident as and when they happen. At least, not until I read the scripts of the Lecture by Dr Bawumia on Ghana’s ailing Economy on 25th March 2014.

“At the heart of the problem is the lack of fiscal and monetary discipline” – I couldn’t have agreed more with this statement. More importantly, I would also like to know what the Government has done with $20 billion of development monies of the last few years. And I totally agree too, with his corrective/stabilization measure recommendations at the end of his lecture. I was however hoping that after all was stabilized, what next? What do successive governments have to do to ensure that any stabilization is solidified economically speaking at least in the medium term?These having been said and purely out of respect and for the purposes of complimentary discourse, there were some arrears of the Honourable economist’s presentation that could do with some defence. Seeing that they form a fundamental context of his position.
(1) Dr Bawumia indicates that “To bridge the gap between black market and official exchange rates, foreign exchange bureaus were established in February 1988, leading to the virtual absorption of the foreign exchange black market. The cedi exchange rate therefore became market determined with an increase in demand for foreign currency resulting in depreciation……” Do we interpret this to mean that, it was only when the Forex Bureaus were established in 1988 that the Cedi started being influenced by the demand and supply market? Shall we in extrapolation thus also assume that the black market should not be considered part of the currency influencing market because of their black nature? – that’s a bit of an exchange rate racist discrimination sir, don’t you think? Sir?
(2) Dr Bawumia says the only reason for the Cedi Depreciation in the periods before 2014 is because we moved from fixed rates (established by the British West African Currency Board (WACB)) to floating rates? He forgets that in the era of the fixed rates, it was in the interest of Britain Empire to keep the rate of the West African Pound at par with the GBP, because they technically owned both currencies. After independence, I am sure the Dr will agree that keeping the rates in line with the British Empire’s GBP standardization mechanism would have meant, effectively, chaining the economic management of Ghana and her currency to Britain’s Economic policies – effectively we would have social independence but no Financial Management liberty. As far as his lecture notes show, he has only effectivley explained the Cedi’s depreciation in the 3 years leading to 2014, as being due to economic fundamentals. Sir, it didn’t all just happen in 2014. According to your graph, depreciation has been on the steady rise all the way back from independence. I wish the Dr would explain to us how the depreciations in the 40+ years prior happened? Or shall we then conclude that returning to Fixed rate exchange mechanism will correct everything about the Cedi?
(3) SKEWED COMPARISONS:

    •  Sir you start off the partial causative analysis by indicating that Ghana’s currency exchange was fixed under the The British West African Currency Board (WACB) and you compared the West African Pound to the British Pound, then in analysing the outcomes of those causative issues, you switch to the Cedi versus the US Dollar – why the dissimilar parameters for comparison? Sir?
    • Over the period 1965 to 2012 you compare the USD/GBP and the GhS/USD and conclude that whereas the GBP appreciated by 1.5% over a 48 year period against the Dollar, the Cedi slumped by 2,000,000%. That’s an intentionally skewed comparison to make. Why wasn’t the Cedi:USD fluctuation compared to the fluctuation against the USD of a country with similar economic, social and historical backgrounds like Nigeria or Kenya? Sir? I am just curious!

(4) The Dr said “Declining economic growth is worrying because without an expanding economy we cannot create jobs and many of you students will find it difficult to find jobs when you complete your studies….” – it would be good to know if as an economist, our focus should be on job creation or productivity. Let’s be brutally honest sir, if job creation were to be considered as an end in itself, then Hitler did it by employing every citizen in digging trenches and making bombs. Are you sure the real worry is in the creation of jobs or the nation’s productivity? Sir? I am just curious!
(5) The Dr said, very correctly, that excessive government spending domestically and the financing of such increased spending using direct cash injections has been one of the main factors causing the exchange rate slump because it fundamentally meant more Cedis chasing fewer Dollars – I agree and believe too, that this is
a critical issue that will impact on short, medium and long term economic performances of Ghana. As critical as this is however and knowing that Government insofar as the population and economy was expanding no matter how little, will continue to need increased spending – The Dr made no offer of measures that governments ought to carry out to generate, increase and sustain local revenue, seeing that he suggested in the body of his lecture, a reduction in levies, taxes and rates, and in contradiction, a scrapping of tax holidays in order to make the cost of doing business Ghana attractive to investors – although I would have argued that corruption and uncertainty add substantively to the cost of doing business in Ghana. So, just how, should Government generate income other than by expanding revenue catchment through biometric means and social formalization – assuming these will require public spending which the Dr has suggested need cutting down sharply and immediately. thats a fixy situation sir, dont you think? Sir? I am just curious!
(6) Dr Bawumia, in putting Ghana’s Public Debt Interest payments in perspective says that total interests payable in 2014 is 6 times the budget of these 6 “KEY” ministries namely:  Ministry of Roads, Trade/Industry, Fisheries, Food/Agriculture, Water/Housing and Transport. Sir, I don’t know how you determined the “KEY” ministries, but if you were trying to compare the sizeable and central nature of the interest payments, it would have been comparatively fair to compare it with the equally SIZEABLE and in my opinion, “CENTRALLY KEY” ministries such as Finance, Defence, Education, Food/Agric, Health and Energy/Petroleum, in which case you would have realised that the interest repayments for 2014 only amounts to 0.5 TIMES the combined budgets of these 6 “CENTRALLY KEY” ministries. Does that shift the arguments a little? Sir? Oh by the way sir, according to the publicly available budget documents on the website of the MoFEP, you said the total budget allocated to Ministry of Roads was GhS779mil – it is actually GhS699; you said that for Fisheries was GhS279mil – it is actually GhS128; You said Food and Agric had GhS128 – it is actually GhS306. Sir? I am just curious!
(7) Dr Bawumia, does a brilliant table that compares Months of Import Cover (MiC) per liquidity for Ghana (pop 25mil), India (pop 1.3bil) Indonesia (pop 249mil), Malaysia (pop 31mil), South Africa (pop 52mil), and of course, Ghana compares very poorly – Did the Dr fail to acknowledge that national productivity does generally have some linear relationship with population sizes or was it a slip of intent? It was unclear the source of the data and whether or not these were averages over time or as at the end of 2013. We don’t know. But how about we compare apples with apples SIR? How about we compare African countries with similar levels of populations and the picture doesn’t look too bad all of a sudden at the end of 2013 (from World Bank sources): Kenya (Pop=44mil; MiC=4); Uganda (Pop=35mil; MiC=5); Ivory Coast (Pop=23mil; MiC=4); Mozambique (Pop=24mil; MiC=3) and Ghana (Pop=24mil; MiC=3). On World Bank Datasheet website, Seychelles has an MiC of 40, Algeria MiC=34 and Lybia MiC=41; Comparatively, will Dr Bawumia therefore say the following countries are comparatively close to economic extinction? i.e. USA MiC=2, Denmark MiC=6 and France MiC=2. Or, Hurray!! we can even say Kojokrom’s MiC is much better than Obamatown. If so, then we can all just shout “Edey be k3k3!!” Conclusively, using the Months of Import Cover on its own is not enough to explain a country’s liquid stability without understanding the basics of it such as the nature of imports, the relative type of the country’s export, the timings etc., the nature of its foreign contracts the private/covernment ratios of those imports etc
Conclusion:

All in all, I think it was a largely positive and forward-looking presentation barring that I was hoping his recommendations would have been ones that looked beyond stabilization and into medium to long term actions of depth. Congratulations sir. You have done well breaking one horn of the bull……… the rest, is in all our hands. As I have always reiterated, resources are nothing without the people to convert them into wealth. So too are agendas and policies without the right people to implement them – as far as we can all see, our economy and therefore, the currency, which is a reflection also of that economy, is a reflection of the mental and creative majority of us, as a people; sadly, the required critical mass of citizens, needed to stabilize the thinking and creative base of Ghana currently lies in the hands of our majority illiterates.