Talking Drums

The West African News Magazine

What The Papers Say

The Donors' Confab And Economic Recovery

People's Daily Graphic Ghana

It certainly is no exaggeration to say that Ghana's economy is at the moment under international scrutiny. The special donors' conference of Ghana's Western creditor nations and international financial institutions in Paris amply underscores this fact.

In a sense it can be said that the very holding of the conference is an expression of support for the PNDC's Economic Recovery Programme which has already led to the granting of much needed loans by the IMF and the World Bank.

Since the revolution was launched almost two years ago there has been a lot of debate on the nature of our economic malaise and strategies for combating them. Among other schools of thought there is one that contends that to seek IMF, World Bank or Western economic and financial support is a betrayal of the revolution. But with time the PNDC, through its recovery programme, has succeeded in making it clear to all our people that there is nothing wrong with seeking help from whichever quarter to do USEFUL work and carry out viable projects.

In fact at the time the economic recovery programme was launched, the PNDC Secretary for Finance and Economic Planning, Dr Kwesi Botchwey spelt out clearly the international dimension of our crisis in a speech to the nation on radio and TV. Said he: " is important for us to understand that the continuing problems of our economy which manifest themselves in critical shortage of basic needs and consequent deterioration in the living standards of the people are not peculiarly Ghanaian, that the entire world, particularly the western world with which our economy, like those of all so-called underdeveloped economies, is most closely associated, is in crisis and that there is hardly a single country in the world today that is unaffected by this crisis".

By the same token, it is easy to see that no one country by itself can get out of the woods and it is for this reason that the donors' conference is an important event in our efforts to rehabilitate the national economy. Mr David Knox, World Bank Vice-President for West Africa described the programme as sensible and said that it held out good hope for Ghana's economy. Mr Knox referred to positive measures and proposals in the pro- gramme by which the PNDC seeks to effect economic recovery and growth. Areas such as fiscal reform and cedi adjustment, increase in cocoa producer price, attention to railways and telecommunication were mentioned by the World Bank official and, of course, the recovery programme does not ignore them either.

We of the People's Daily Graphic are placing emphasis on the recovery programme at this crucial point because we believe that its correct implication holds the key to our recovery. We say this because a donors' conference by itself would not mean much if there was not the instrument by which any positive results could be translated into action.

The recovery programme is perhaps the most comprehensive report on the performance and potentials of our national economy and we urge that at every twist and turn the government should ensure that the principles underlying the programme are adhered to.

There are undeniable prospects for recovery but it cannot be over-emphasised that whether we win or lose will depend on ourselves.

The Flight 250 disaster

National Concord, Nigeria

The horror and national indignation of the crash at Amene, Enugu of last Monday's Flight 250 may pass away, but the memories of the 53 dead may linger in many hearts. Insurers may pay out money, probes may sit and hear the details, the black box may contain further information, yet, all these will not even begin to find a solution on how disastrous crashes would be averted in Nigerian airspace in the future.

James Obeng, the Ghanaian captain of the F-28 and his surviving colleagues would get over their shock and tell their experience. But we might hasten to say that the unspeakable, nay tragic, incompetence of the Nigeria Airways has never been traced to the airline's pilots who are manifestly some of the best in the world.

The probe now instituted by the president would have made greater sense had the crash not been so accurately predicted less than a week earlier by Mr C.D. Gyang. The lucky pilot had warned and hoped that "this incident is not overlooked because I wouldn't have been alive with 35 other souls aboard to tell the story", after his narrow escape on November 16. So, what is the basis of this probe which, like others before it, would never see the light of the day?

Transport and Aviation Minister, Alhaji Umaru Dikko, has now said that F-28s would be phased out. But Gyang did say also in his petition that "if the airline wants to phase out the F-28s, it is definitely not by crashing them". Now, one F-28 has crashed with horrendous consequences and Fleet Captain Ashafa flew another safely the following day as if to prove that the F-28s were after all as good as other big birds. He might yet convince the minister to keep the fleet of F-28s.

The F-28s might be as good as other aircraft and the Fokker Friendship manufacturers would readily testify that they are. They might be ageing, but they apparently do not suffer from manufacturing deficiencies. Thus, the issue goes far deeper than just phasing out the F-28s.

In an airline that is sensitive to safety precautions, someone ought to have made sure that all the complaints eloquently made by C.D. Gyang were attended to the same day. Should that be too much trouble, at least someone ought to have insisted that until those defects were rectified the 5H-AMH would be considered unfit for operation.

Nigeria Airways pilots have shouted themselves hoarse on the instruments that exist in all airports of the world - the so-called instrumental landing system which are meant to keep the airspace safe and prevent the kind of disaster which has now occurred. Those pilots once threatened to go on strike on the issue. Yet nothing happened.

Thus the issue goes far beyond phasing out the F-28s. The most sophisticated aircraft just out of the assembly line must of necessity operate with some navigational and landing aids. Nor does the fogginess of Enugu reduce the culpable liability of the Nigeria Airways on this matter.

A full dress judicial and public inquiry is clearly needed because a clear case of criminal negligence is involved. If people must be alive to their responsibilities, if suicide flights must be discouraged, appropriate punishment must be meted out to those responsible for the disaster. Unless this is done, no lessons would be drawn from Flight WT 250 disaster and the Nigeria Airways would continue as a nightmare to air travellers

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