In Ghana, one of the world’s projected fastest growing economies, June 2018 ended with a flood. Literally. Seasonal rains washed away lives and property. Again. Our former Vice President, Paa Kwesj Amissah -Arthur, died. Unexpectedly. In the 4th Republic, established in 1992, Amissah-Arthur’s demise is the third death of our former VPs. Kow Nkensen Arkaah, Aliu Mahama and now Amissah-Arthur. We also commemorated a season in which judges and senior military officers were dispatched by very short illegal shrift, by bullets.
June saw other floods. Of tears and tantrums. Enforcing and exposing deep gaps in governance and compliance at the Ghana Football Association and the Electoral Commission has seen previously seemingly untouchable officials, for once, actually flushed out of office. Will they now face prosecution?
The Auditor General must present to Parliament the state of affairs of the public purse. And the IMF, the last port of call for virtually all governments since independence is usually the bête noir of all parties in the Minority. They signal, again, their confidence in macroeconomic stability and efforts by this government to rein in public spending.
Further, there is also a flood of the type of news, that makes self-respecting patriots in the Minority, reach, again, simultaneously for their smelling salts and then person the barricades. Their dander is up. The game is DEFLECTION by flooding.
The IMF is one of the Bretton Woods institutions that just about every government since our independence in 1957, after chanting 'Freedom, Freedom, Freedom' and various versions of such, has sloped off, cap in hand, to beg for assistance. We love to hate them and yet every time they speak, we twitch.
The last time we went a-begging, April 2015, our scrawny economic guinea fowl had taken off on a low trajectory in the general direction of Burkina Faso. A bailout of US$918 million, drip dripped over 3 years with conditions, was the triumphant prize proclaimed by the government of former President John Dramani Mahama. The Minority then, now in Government, were deeply unimpressed.
Last week, on the eve of our Republic Day (yet another holiday), the IMF declared from their exalted perspective, that this government, having extended the end of the bailout from April to December 2018, is delivering. They say that the economy has grown by 8.5% in the first year of this administration, it was a struggling at 3.7% in the final year of the record-breaking one-term administration of Mr. Mahama.
According to the release published by this newspaper on Thursday, June 28th, 2018, the Fund has lauded ongoing efforts to stabilise the macroeconomy, buoyed by strong oil production, oiled by increased investor confidence, low inflation and a deep commitment to balance the budget by reining in public spending.
I have heard again, from small and large business owners, that it is all very well and nice to trot out data to score points, but you can't eat figures. Of course not. You can see the figures though if your lights are still on and Dumsor, a major blow to productivity of any sort, is a minor past irritant.
I haven't also as yet, sighted the comprehensive rejection of the IMF's uptick of the economy by our voluble Minority. There is time. In July, the Minister of Finance, one Mr. Ken Ofori-Atta, must return to Parliament with a mid-year budget review. He is likely to turn up, again, with that slow smile, wielding bible quotations and unassailable data. Frankly, what do you do with a man who refuses to shake?
Fortunately for Parliament, they have many points at which they can act up. By the end of July, they will likely debate a draft bill that should seek to put all loss-making state-owned enterprises in the sort of short sleeve jacket that will hopefully, prevent them from continuing to drain the public purse.
Parliament will have ammunition for what should be a lively session. We pay for 275 reasoned minds to apply themselves: to informed debates (happens more often that we think); for wild statements and outbursts; and also for carefully pre-organised spontaneous walkouts, past the cameras, of course, for effect.
Consolidating the Flood
The Auditor General's (AudG) Report on the Consolidated Fund 2017 is required to be presented to Parliament by June 30th for debate. Last time this AudG, rocked up before the House, it wasn't pretty.
He cited Ghc97.5 million of loans granted to 170 companies and SOEs over 10 years who had either not honoured their commitments and paid back, had become defunct or been divested. The Danes may want to take a second look. According to the 2016 Report by the AudG, only 6 out of the 30 institutions who received private sector related loans from the Kingdom of Denmark had paid up. He said in his report that the Economic and Organized Crimes Office (EOCO) had managed to recover some Ghc1.17 million. However, EOCO did not transfer the funds as required into the Consolidated Fund.
Our government had refused and or was incapable of paying out Ghc819 million to the mandatory schemes, being our national pension and social security funds. When is the demonstration to take against taking liberties with the taxpayer to take off from Obra Spot?
In the last year of Mahama, some Ghc56.3 million of payments to the EC and the Ministry of Youth and Sports was quietly processed outside the laid down Ghana Integrated Financial Management and Information Systems. My new buzz phrase is Mindset Change. Will the 2017 AudG report reflect this?
Delivering More than one Point
'Sebi sebi tafrakhye', it has been a long goodbye. June saw the anniversary, again, of the bloody backdoor short sharp and swift illegal vengeance we once delivered by the bullet, to high court judges and former military leaders of Ghana.
Matters at the EC have dragged, as it should in a democracy that requires process and rule of law. And so in Tsunami June, we were finally updated. Upon the recommendations of a Committee instituted by the Chief Justice (CJ), her Ladyship Sophia Akuffo, (our second female CJ in the history of independent Ghana) into allegations raised by others and tellingly amongst and against themselves, President Akufo-Addo has terminated the employment of the Chairperson of the EC, Ms Charlotte Osei and 2 of her deputies.
Ms Osei was our first ever female Chair of the all-important EC. Some would say that with a nod to recent history, this President too should have simply issued a white paper and/or given her and her 2 deputies positions at Jubilee House as presidential staffers. Instead, 'sprish sprish sprish', he has on advice, removed the 3. See this man. If there are legal grounds from their removal from high office, proceed to court and prosecute these 3 and the next and the next...
Ms Osei and her 2 Deputies deserve their time in the dock, to defend their good names. Long goodbyes are tiring, especially when they are organised from Obra Spot. Although this time, given mindset change, demonstrators should not be met with the application of horse whips and hot water cannons. That is in short the definition of mindset change in 'sprish sprish sprish.'
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