The CEO of Dalex Finance has urged economists to use vernacular or simple English in their public communication.
Ken Thompson believes this will enable them to contribute effectively to shaping and driving public policy.
“The use of meaningless and empty phrases to make it look like people know what they are talking about must stop…our economists must be passionate about economics as the pastors are about their collections,” he said.
Speaking at a forum to launch the ‘K.B. Amissah Arthur Chair in Economics’ initiative, he lamented the worsening state of affairs of the country’s economy.
He registered his unhappiness with the failure of economists to effectively engage policymakers to provide solutions to the country’s problems.
The Chartered Accountant said, “the economic challenges facing Ghana are complex – high youth unemployment, high debt levels, low national income, compensation of employees, interest expense and statutory deductions constituting an average of over 90% of the country’s budgeted income. This leaves very little money for investment”.
The Dalex Finance CEO stated that academia needs to lobby for change and develop long term relationships with policymakers either directly or indirectly. A relationship he said should be based on mutual trust and respect.
“Although civil servants and politicians sometimes lack expert knowledge in their policy fields, they react unfavourably, if at all, to lengthy technical and opaque documents that academia produces.
“We have often tried to circumvent the need for healthy engagement by encouraging academia to cross over to active politics,” he said.
Mr Thompson added that “There have been several ‘successes’ in pursuing this workaround including Paa Kwesi Amissah-Arthur of blessed memory, Dr Kwesi Botchway and Dr. Jones Ofori-Atta also of blessed memory and others too numerous to mention.
“This route, despite the many success stories is not a sustainable way to achieve the objective of academia influencing policy. Because the danger is that the academics who become partisan politicians may fall into the same trap as the policymakers they seek to influence.”
According to him, “There are three main reasons why academia frequently fails to influence policy – failure to produce clear outcomes without caveats, reluctance to clearly define policy implications, difficulty in communicating findings in an accessible way. At that point, the policymakers are looking for their Prophet or Alhaji.”