wings of freedom

Location: Accra, Accra, Ghana

Franklin Cudjoe is head of Ghanaian think-tank Imani: The Centre for Humane Education, whose vision is to educate and create a core of young scholars that will promote market oriented policies throughout Africa. He was formerly a programme officer and research assistant at the Institute of Economic Affairs in Ghana. A Land Economist by training, Franklin works closely with partner think-tanks across the world to promote public policy ideas in Ghana and abroad. He is a frequent commentator in print and broadcast media about Africa development issues, including appearances on BBC, CBC, Swiss and Swedish National TV, Austrian National Radio and varied local Ghanaian media, and has been published or quoted in the Ghanaian Daily Graphic Accra Daily Mail, Ghana Web, My Joy online, London's Daily Telegraph,The Wall Street Journal, El Mercurio (Chile), La Republica (Costa Rica),the Ottawa Citizen, the San Francisco Chronicle, Netzeitung Voice Of Germany, and many others. Franklin speaks to policy makers, students groups in Ghana and abroad. Franklin is an Adjunct Fellow at the Independent Institute in the USA and the International Policy Network in London.

Monday, August 08, 2005

On Global Strategic Competition- A Ghanaian diasporean reacts

Dear Franklin,

Thanks for writing. I interrupted my 24 hours Email boycott only to openand read yours first. I had even lost your email address due to lack oftime to get my laptop fixed.

I am not ready for long debates but I got to give you this one. Again I have read your views expressed and hope you have gotten over the false image somebody was trying to give you that others who criticize you could be doing it as a sign of jealousy. Nothing can be further form the truth.

I still consider you a youngbrother for what you stand for; else I would not invite you to my home. Remember I am a Kwahu man (smile), and nobody stands for entrepreneurship than I do. I have had my own business even in America for 15 of the last 17 years. I set up my own finance business out of myown meager funds and have survived since then. Manufacturing of hightechnology as an industry I was part of was cut back and moved overseasto South East Asia (Singapore, Taiwan, and Malaysia).

In 1980 I wasalready an Engineering Manager in high tech. I can assure you that afteryou try to find capital to set up your own entrepreneurial activity thatwill possible be in competition with anything being done in the West,you will learn the true lessons of global strategic competition. Perhapsyou will come to realize the reasons why Kwame Nkrumah took the path hetook and wrote as he did.

I saw one Cameroonian Engineer lose his housefor the 2 years he was trying to seek venture capital right here. My brother, the world is not equal, and all hands are not equal. Thereare companies I know whose gross profit for one single quarter is largerthan the whole economy of Ghana, and yet want to expand into your marketbecause that is the nature of America business, to expand every year!They don't care if every one of you Ghanaians dies due to lack of jobs.Some will use the weaknesses of the third world nations and the greed ofour leaders to penetrate the market and allow rice farms that are meantto help rural farmers become obsolete and wasted! As you know, we nowimport every single item in Ghana. Why does American government assisttheir farmers?Why did American government help Chrysler?Why? Because they considered the business of Chrysler and farming vitalto national interest.

Please take this as an advice from a man whose mind is at your level ofactivity and search for solutions, but who has 30 years experience morethan you have. You do not understand the nature of global competition. If you did, you would realize the reasons why places like Niger sit atnumber 122 in the world with a score at 2.2 in the TransparencyInternational's CPI (Corruption Perception Index), and yet it takes anOxfam European young woman to be teaching the local people how to digand set up water wells.

Perhaps you might be asking why the West doesnot help those poor people by helping them to survive on their own, butrather go in and dig Uranium, a mineral whose use is in making Nuclearweapons! Why feed those people today and dig their minerals and leave,whiles their livelihoods and survival can be changed with perhaps only$200,000 for wells and irrigation systems? Do you think $200,000 meansmuch to MNCs show can make that much profit per day?Why isn't much being done? Or do you subscribe to the pull-up-your-own-bootstrap theories that wereused to justify leaving freed slaves in the America South in povertytill today in America?

Please think about it!!

Yes, you and I and GLU will fight to stop the corruption of our leaderstogether.Yes, you and I and GLU may even work together to push our leaders toperform and do their duties.

One day it is hoped you will understand fully.

Cheers,Kwaku A. Danso, President,

Ghana Leadership Union, Inc (NGO) www.GhanaLeadership.comGHANA Office: Accra: Tel. 0244-057566 0244-330486 Pres/CEO, Amtek ERF -Engineering, Realty & Finance,Inc.www.AmtekRealtyandFinance.comUSA: Fremont, CA.94539 Tel.510-494-8300 Cel.579-0066 GHANA: 233-21-057206 0244-330486

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

What do you expect when taxes strangle ordinary people

Tax Evasion Deal Exposed

Ghana's Daily Graphic

The Customs,Excise and Preventive Service(CEPS) has exposed the tricks adopted by some importers to dodge the payment of taxes and duties to the state.In one of the scams, two containers in which imitated Malboro cigarette brands were concealed as rubber shoes would have caused revenue loss to the state to the tune of ¢7.995 billion if the importers had succeeded in their deal.

Two other containers believed to contain used clothing were cleared from the port without the payment of taxes and duties,while in the case of the containers containing the Malboro cigarettes,customs officials detected that their owners wanted to clear the items from China disguised as rubber shoes.

The Assistant Commissioner of CEPS in charge of Tema, Mr Africanus Owusu-Ansah, who disclosed the modus operandi of the syndicate to the Graphic,said three other importers who also attempted to illegally clear two vehicles loaded with used clothing had been arrested.Such unscrupulous characters have,over the past two months caused revenue loss to the state running into billions of cedis by disguising some of the imported items as a way of outwitting customs officials at the Tema Port.

Mr Owusu-Ansah explained that,some time in June this year, CEPS had a hint that a vessel leaving Yantian in China for Accra was believed to contain some contraband goods and CEPS officials were,subsequently,alerted to be on the look out for the vessel,Sally Maersk.He said on June 22,2005, Santa Shipping Agencies made an attempt to clear the two containers which were allegedly meant for trans-shipment to France from the Tema Port.

But when the contents were examined, they were found to be "imitated Malboro brand of cigarettes."He indicated that the declaration on the bill of laden that accompanied the cargo showed that the items on board were polyvinyl chloride (PVC)shoes (rubber shoes) and consigned to Balance Imports and Exports of Post Office Box 307 in Suhum in the Estern Region, but when it was thoroughly checked, "only 67 out of the 1991 packets in the two containers were the rubber shoes, while the rest turned out to be imitated Malboro brand of cigarettes."Mr Owusu-Ansah said he, therefore, instructed that the containers be impounded, while investigations were to be carried out.

He said the importers used the rubber shoes to conceal the identity of the cigarettes "because it had the same scent as nicotine, although nicotine had a more pungent smell."The Assistant Commissioner of CEPS, who showed the Graphic some of the fake Malboro cigarettes, indicated that CEPS could not guarantee the quality status of the cigarettes.He said when information reached him on July 28,2005 that some containers had also been cleared from the port without paying duties and taxes,he immediately wrote to the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority(GPHA)to help track down the containers.

Mr Owusu-Ansah said on July 22,2005,Eric Adiama of Santa Shipping Agencies was alleged to have entered a declaration for the two containers which he claimed contained used clothing.He indicated that since the contents of the two containers were not checked by customs officers,they could not authenticate whether the contents were used clothing,arms and amunition or other contraband goods."The security of the state is of major concern to all of us and what we are not even sure of is whether there are arms, amunition or other types of contraband goods which pose a threat to the state," he said.

Mr Owusu-Ansah said in the third operation,two vehicles were intercepted by CEPS and when the drivers were quizzed, they claimed that the contents,were used clothing.He,however,said when the vehicles were thoroughly searched,they found that fake wax prints were concealed in the bails.Three persons,Kwesi Bediako,Albert Anum and Foster Anim were consequently arrested to help in investigations in connection with the imported imitated wax prints.When asked whether the security at the Tema Port was not sloppy and whether the scanning machines there were not ineffecient,Mr Owusu-Ansah indicated that CEPS officials were constrained in terms of numbers at the port and that some containers that came through shipping agencies such as Atlas,Maersk and TCT Agencies were not scanned."We have only 398 officers and men stationed at the Tema Harbour and this number includes drivers,messengers and other supporting staff.

So we are seriously contrained in terms of numbers," he said.He,however,added that what CEPS was now trying to do, despite the limited number,was to make sure that every container that came through the port was manually numbered in order to reduce fraud.Mr Owusu-Ansah made it clear that CEPS was a human institution and that there were bound to be miscreants who could be helping the syndicates to carry out their nefarious activities against the state and added that"they would,however,be weeded out any time we get them.

"Story: Maximus Attah, Tema

Franklin’s talk at Brian's Last Fridays in London on July 29

Franklin sounded a lot like Hayek – which is no coincidence, because he talked about how much Hayek had influenced his early thinking – in his insistence upon the intellectual struggle as the first step in trying to achieve anything more concrete. You get nowhere by nagging politicians direct. You have to change the assumptions within which they work. That takes time but it can be done, and by the sound of it he is doing his best.--Brian Micklethwait

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