One easily gathers from public discourse on the economy that lots of Ghanaians now appreciate the fact that excessive importation hurts the Cedi; by the basic laws of demand and supply.
The Cedi depreciation has become a popular metric used by the public to assess the government’s economic performance. Of course, it’s a woefully inadequate tool. And to worsen matters, most people do not appreciate percentage growth so they for instance think a depreciation from $1:¢4 to $1:¢7 (75%) is more severe than a depreciation from $1:¢1 to $1:¢2 (100%).
I believe it’s a matter of time; the masses will get it.
Actually, excessive importation has a more damning effect on the economy and livelihood of people, than the obvious and popularly known—depreciation of the Cedi.
IMPORTATION of goods and services (simultaneously) is EXPORTATION of jobs.
Let’s take a simple case: Assume the school feeding program under the Free SHS Policy requires the consumption of 30,000 bags of rice (@ GhC200.oo per bag) a month.
If the rice is imported, then a supply of GhC6 million in exchange for dollars arises each month, thus increasing the forces of depreciation on the Cedi. This is well appreciated by the public.
If the rice had been grown here, the farming process would have required the ploughing of land, clearing of weeds (prolly by spraying), purchase of “seeds” for sowing, sowing, harvesting, processing, etc. All these processes would have required human labor.
By importing the rice, the task of growing the rice has to be carried by the countries from which the rice is imported. Thus, all those jobs mentioned are exported. We lose the GhC6 million to foreign countries at the end of the month.
The people who would have performed these jobs go unemployed.
That’s not where it ends.
These unemployed people lose the money (GhC6 million per month) they would have gained from rice production. By losing this, they now have a reduced purchasing power. So the women involved may end up sowing fewer clothes than they would have sowed. The men reduce how much they would have given their family for food, etc.
Thus, the “innocent seamstress” is now also affected by a low demand for her sowing services, driven by the low purchase power resulting from exportation of jobs. The effects ripple into every nook and cranny. Even rich entrepreneurs like Kwame Despite are affected because, families cut down on their consumption of the goods and services he provides.
It still doesn’t end here.
The people whose jobs have been exported now come joining the rest of us to fight for the limited available jobs.
This creates excess supply of labour giving employers room to offer very poor conditions of service.
Furthermore, the scarcity of job opportunities now influences families to mount pressure on relatives in powerful positions to value family ties over competence, in employment. Corruption and nepotism rise with scarcity of opportunities.
This further reduces national productivity and national trust in made-in-Ghana goods—that’s what happens when you sideline your best available talents. This further promotes the very demon of importation that set triggered the chain of events.
We can still go on and on and on to talk about how these affect crime rates, kill creativity and entrepreneurship, increase depression, especially among young men, to even how it results in delayed marriages thus increasing fornication.
Excessive Importation is killing us economically, psychologically, and even morally.
For a country blessed with abundant mineral wealth, excellent tropical rainforest, nutrient-rich savannas, favorable climate, and above all millions of human beings (each with two working brain hemispheres), it is unfathomable and unpardonable how we manage to still import everything, including toothpicks.
We have no excuse reasonable enough to spare us the harsh penance nature dishes for our failure.
It is my prayer that government will really focus and drive policies such as the Planting for Food and Jobs and 1D1F by a V8 engine.
Lots of human energy and talents are going to waste and suffering avoidable poverty, simply because we have become too reliant on the labour of foriegn lands.
But, there is hope.
God bless our homeland, Ghana.