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Ghana Government Plans to Sell Telecom Company Generate Controversy

President John Kufuor's government plan to sell telecommunications giant Ghana Telecom Company is generating intense debate after a pressure group vowed to oppose the sale at all cost. The Committee for Joint Action (CJA) warned members of Ghana's parliament of dire consequences if it approves the controversial sale. The group said it would campaign against any parliamentarian who supports the government's plan in this year's parliamentary election.

The CJA is also threatening to hold public forums across the country to generate discussion about the dangers involved in selling the company, which it claims would result in demonstrations if the government goes ahead with its plan to sell the company.

The group accused government of wrongfully using state resources in the recent organization of national awards, purchasing of presidential jets and the building of a presidential palace, but could not raise money to offset reported debts incurred by Ghana Telecom Company. But the government dismissed the accusations as without merit, adding that the sale was to raise standards of the company in what the government describes as the competitive telecommunications industry in the country.

Bernard Morna is a leading member of the CJA. From the Ghanaian capital, Accra he tells reporter Peter Clottey that the sale of the telecommunication company is not in the interest of Ghanaians.

"We all do know that in this modern era communication has become a very important tool, not only for national engagements, but also can be used for security and other international engagements, and indeed spying on a country. So for our nation to sell of our most precious telecommunication outfit, Ghana Telecom, for us is an indictment on the reasoning and thinking capacity of our government," Morna said.

He described as inopportune the government's plan to sell the state's treasured asset.

"The chief executive of Vodaphone (the British company that wants to buy Ghana Telecom) says that Ghana's telecom industry is one of the most buoyant industries across the continent, and that annually, they have 55% subscribers into the industry. And then we begin to ask the questions if it is about efficiency that should be the basis for national assets to be sold out, then we think that the presidency of Ghana should be sold out because the president that we have shows gross inefficiency in the management of this country," he noted.

Morna sharply disagrees with government's assertion that it was selling the company to raise funds for the economy and create more jobs for ordinary people.

"Nobody disputes the fact of government raising funds. But this is a government that wants to raise money to inject into an economy, yet has sufficient resources to be able to go and acquire medals for national awards to people whose contribution to the national development of Ghana is questionable. This is a government that desires resources for creating employment and jobs and yet will be able to take resources to go and buy two presidential jets for the comfort of the president traveling around. That is the kind of sensitive government we have," Morna said.

He said the pressure group's ultimatum to parliamentarians is justified.

"What is the meaning of the legislature? The legislature is supposed to be the representative of the people because we cannot all participate in the Greek method of democracy. Therefore, we elect people to represent our voice. It is those same people that we can go to and tell them what is wrong with our society so they can right it. We believe that for Ghana to prosper, our parliamentarians must be up and doing. They must not subject themselves to any timidity by the executive arm of government, and we think that by telling the members of parliament to do the right thing, society would be compelled by rejecting them when they come to seek the mandate to go back to parliament. It is not a threat to the legislature," he pointed out.