Colonel Muammar Gaddafi has cracked his whip again-but this time, in his own backyard! Incensed by government ministries that gulp $37 billion per year yet they “have been transformed into a labyrinthine bureaucracy in which corruption and maladministration reign,” he has ordered that they be disbanded. Whereas his action may be seen as a manifestation of the leader’s dictatorship, his sentiments should not be dismissed altogether.
His remarks come in the wake of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director, Mr. Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s advice to African leaders that they exercise prudence and invest in human capital to raise the living standards of their people.
In spite of rising illiteracy rates, rampant disease, poor transport infrastructure, scanty agricultural extension services and survival on less than one dollar a day amongst their citizens, most African government budgets are a huge maze of extra-budgetary expenditure items, “presidential privy accounts,” presidential jets, fuel guzzling limousines and swelling state bureaucracies redolent with graft, patronage and waste. With bloated bureaucracies, soaring expenditures and narrow tax bases, budget deficits have soared.
The Libyan president should thus be hailed for coming to the rescue of the ordinary citizen. There is need for African countries to re-examine the performance of state bureaucracies with a view of cutting to size those that unnecessarily strain the exchequer. Taxpayers on the other hand must demand efficiency in the services they have paid for and put relevant agencies to task for non-delivery. In this manner, the government shall be more accountable to the people and render efficient services.
In the same light, the two Kenyan protagonists who heeded the voice of the citizenry in the Kofi Annan led mediation talks ought to be hailed. The already impoverished electorate hopes that the coalition government will not lead them on the road to serfdom through bloated bureaucracy, expenditures and debts, but will work towards ensuring that they keep more of what they earn.
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