A three-day international conference has been held at the University of Cape Coast with a call on participants to come up with policy-oriented decisions that will improve on the lives of the people.
The three-day conference has experts from Ghana, South Africa and Uganda speak to the theme “Public Private Partnership in the Power Sector in Ghana: Genuine Development Agenda or New Business Deal?
Speaking at the opening ceremony, Provost of the College of Humanities and Legal Studies, UCC, Prof. S. B. Kendie indicated that market-led reforms have been the driving force of the development agenda for countries implementing economic reforms under the guidance of the International Financial Institutions, and in Ghana this has been going on since 1983.
“We have witnessed labour rationalization and retrenchment and wage freeze in several such countries accompanied in several instances by labour agitations and strikes and subsequent informalization of economies”. “The growing informal economy is characterized by low wages and poor working conditions. Many remain outside the tax net, which affect public revenue generation”.
Prof. Kendie said removal of subsidies and imposition of user fees may have freed the national budget of some expenditure but these have also had some negative implications for the poor. Even though Prof. Kendie conceded that the tax net needed to be widened, he said the growing costs of energy and high interest rates were affecting the growth of business, which affects employment generation.
The Director of Institute of Development Studies, Prof. P. K. Agbesinyale said attempts to reform public sectors are sweeping across Africa, but the attempts were generally different from those of the immediate post-independence period.
Prof. Agbesinyale indicated that whereas the earlier reforms aimed at shaping public administration that could spearhead national development, the current reforms aimed at reducing costs and refocus the activities of the public sector, to change the way it works, and to promote the role of the market and the private sector both in the service provision and the economy at large.
Keynote speaker, Dr. Gerard Kesterintimated that democracy could be seen in a double perspective. “It is not a procedure mediating between different political ideologies but is also itself an ideology”.
He said the foundations of democracy has to guarantee the basic values of democratic society adding that that it should establish the primacy of individual freedoms.
Dr. Kester said democracy has to be re-invented in a much richer and specific way than opening ballot boxes once in a not to frequent while, rather if democracy was to regain control over globalized financial capitalism, it should invent new instruments, not just those of the market, and not just parliaments and other formal democratic institutions. “One of the most important issues in the coming years will be the development of new forms of property and control of capital. New forms of participation and governance have to be invented”, he declared.
Turning to democracy and controlled enterprise, the keynote speaker was noted that labour-capital -relations should be linked to the core values of freedom, equality, equivalence and solidarity.
He averred that in the neoliberalism regime, owners do as they please but employees and other stakeholders also belong to entreprise. “Democracy cannot be banned from a place where many people spend a big part of their life and which determines part of their life outside the enterprise”, he said.
The Vice Chancellor, Prof. D. D. Kuupole chaired the opening ceremony.