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General News of Friday, 14 February 2014

Source: Graphic Online

Asabee: The government must show us its vision

A former Minister of Information and a leading member of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Mr Stephen Asamoah Boateng, has called for a non-partisan economic dialogue involving all stakeholders as a matter of urgency to address the economic problems facing the country.

He said the dialogue, which must include the private sector, civil society, religious bodies and traditional authorities, must look at the short, medium and long-term strategies of the country.

Other members must include concerned members of the public such as exporters and importers, fishermen, fishmongers, traders and women.

Similar calls have been made by Prof. Emmanuel Asante, Chairman of the Peace Council and Presiding Bishop of the Methodist Church, the Catholic Archbishop of Accra, Most Rev. Palmer Buckle, and, lately, Dr Papa Kwesi Nduom, the 2012 presidential candidate of the Progressive People’s Party (PPP).

Speaking to the Daily Graphic in an interview on the economy, Mr Asamoah Boateng, who is a former coordinator of the National Economic Dialogue, instituted in the early years of the Kufuor Administration, recalled that during the Acheampong era, short-term policies were implemented by the Bank of Ghana (BoG) to address the challenges of the times but, according to him, they did not yield the desired results.

He argued that the short-term measures by the BoG were not likely to address the financial problems for several reasons including the fact that the BoG was not an independent institution.

He said the governor was appointed by the President and, the Vice-President was the Chairman of the Economic Management Team and wondered how independent the governor could be.

“We are in a democratic dispensation and the problem facing the nation calls for economic dialogue,” he declared.

In the view of Mr Asamoah Boateng, the challenges facing the country would require sacrifices from all stakeholders.

He, however, said the government could not absolve itself from blame in view of how it had managed fiscal policies right from the 2012 elections.

As a medium to long-term measure, Mr Asamoah Boateng stressed the need to have a seven to eight-year development plan which must set the standard for all stakeholders to implement.

He said though the government of the day would fully implement the development plan, it had to be “policed” by the stakeholders including Parliament.

For the development plan to be effective, it would require what he called “good housekeeping,” saying “If you do not have money coming into the kitty, you do not spend what you do not have.” We also need to find answers to tax issues, ‘we need tax reforms”.

He wondered why in a country with a workforce of about 10 million, just about a million pay tax and even then about 600,000 were on the government payroll and consumed the greater chunk of revenue generated.

“The government must show us its vision,” Mr Asamoah Boateng demanded. “One of Ghana’s problems is domestic debt which is rolling over to pay salaries,” Mr Asamoah Boateng declared.

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