Economist and Professor of Finance at the University of Ghana, Godfred Bokpin, has stoked the controversy about the size of the current government.
According to him, the huge number of government appointees has not resulted in better management of the country’s economy.
The size of President Nana Akufo-Addo’s government has been a topic of debate since 2017 when the appointments were announced.
While the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) has said the size of government was unnecessarily enormous, the government insists its appointees are delivering on their targets and hence improving the fortunes of the country.
Last year, President Nana Akufo-Addo's main contender in the 2020 elections, former President John Mahama challenged the government to reduce the size of his government by about 40 appointees to ensure efficiency.
The current administration now has over 110 ministers, at least 20 ministers more than its predecessors appointed.
Opening up the matter again, Prof Bokpin said on Joy FM’s the Super Morning Show Wednesday, that his assessment of the performance of the current administration does not lend credence to the argument in defence of the huge government size.
Dr Bokpin’s comment also follows a forum addressed by Vice President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, in which he scored government high marks for fulfilling most of the 388 manifesto promises the governing NPP made during the 2016 electioneering campaign.
Tuesday’s forum held in Kumasi evaluated the current administration’s three-year performance, comparing it with that of the NDC.
In a nutshell, Dr Bawumia sought to provide data to prove that the NPP has better managed the economy than the NDC did.
However, in Prof Bokpin’s view, the many reports about Ghana’s potential to exponentially achieve rapid economic development show that the achievements being touted by the NPP are not enough and the NDC’s administration should not be the benchmark.
“Once they are evaluating their own performance, they need to ask themselves whether the size of the government justifies the progress that they have made. And I think the government cannot go into the 2020 elections with this number of ministers...” he told Super Morning Show host, Daniel Dadzie.
He urged that “government should take a bold decision and downsize.”
When Prof Bokpin was pressed further to comment on the President’s justification that the size of his government will enable him to implement his vision, the respected Economist disagreed.
“Not at all,” Prof Bokpin is not convinced.
“If I had the opportunity, I would humbly submit to the President, that he should take another look at the number of ministers because it costs us money to run that size of government.
“Studies have shown that the size of government, to a large extent, is negatively related to output. So when you increase the size of government it just holds back further growth.
“That literature is there to support; if the President wants to have that we can make it available. I believe other independent people have studies to that extent,” Prof Bokpin added.
Commenting also revenue mobilisation, Prof Bokpin said the government has failed to expand the country’s tax network in a way that will increase revenue in fulfilment with its own aspirations and promises.
“If you want to know, government itself is to be blamed. Why? Look at the huge exemptions that government grants. It doesn’t seem to me that the government is feeling the impact of the low domestic revenue and the effect of that on their ability to deliver on their promises to Ghanaians,” he said.
According to him, despite the talk about the need to increase the tax net and end the huge tax exemptions granted to some entities, nothing has been done.
According to him, the reports that the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) has exceeded its revenue mobilisation targets must not be celebrated.
“You can’t talk about all these things without linking it to the corruption in the country…because studies have shown that any country that is corrupt is also inefficient at collecting taxes. So while we are talking about enhancing our revenue envelope through the various measures, we should take a critical look at corruption in this country.
“The big-ticket corruption, the small-ticket corruption, all that. Whether we are in Airbus or we are in some excavators…in whatever form, we need to take a drastic decision and this will require some kind of institutional reform and some level of independence of those institutions and separate them from political interference,” he said.
Prof Bokpin also said he was not also impressed with Infrastructure development under the current government, describing the infrastructure development regime under the current government as poor.