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General News of Thursday, 29 December 2022


2022 in Review: Man of the year

Ken Ofori-Atta is the Minister of Finance of Ghana Ken Ofori-Atta is the Minister of Finance of Ghana

Politically, this would perhaps be the first time that a Minister of Finance of Ghana has courted so much public and political attention. So much that his place as the Man of the Year is not even debated.

Ken Ofori-Atta has had what many would describe as the most vilifying year for him as a person in general, and then as the country’s chief financial officer.

From economic indicators in nearly all sectors crumbling so fast from the start of the year, to members of his own political party – the New Patriotic Party (NPP), moving the motion for him to be sacked from office for poor performance, and then the vote of censure motion moved by Minority Members of Parliament in Ghana’s parliament, the man has surely earned the coveted tag.

In this review article, GhanaWeb takes a look back at all the major things that have happened in the year that sum up to Ken Ofori-Atta being adjudged as the Man of the Year 2022.

Before that, however, below are some of the ‘achievements’ that have been chalked under the tenure of the minister.

Worst exchange rate against foreign currencies:

GhanaWeb's daily reports on the cedi's performance showed that on Wednesday, October 12, 2022, the cedi was trading against the dollar at a buying price of 9.7176 and a selling price of 9.7274.

This is compared to trading on Tuesday, October 11, 2022, with a recorded buying price of 9.6427 and a selling price of 9.6523.

Today, at a forex bureau in Accra, the cedi is currently trading at a buying price of 10.7807 and a selling price of 10.50 and trading at a selling price of 11.80 against the dollar.

The Pound Sterling is at a buying price of 9.9992, while it sells at a price of 10.0109.
Debt to GDP:

The country's current Debt to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) hit an all-time high, at GH¢402.4 billion as of July 2022.

The debt stock, which stood at GH¢392.1 billion in March 2022, dropped to GH¢388.1 billion in April 2022 and later went up marginally to GH¢389.2 billion in May 2022 and to GH¢393.4 billion in June 2022.

In early October 2022, Ghana was classified as a high-debt distressed country by the World Bank.

The Bank's October 2022 Africa Pulse Report said that Ghana's rising debt-to-GDP was projected to reach 104 percent by the end of this year.

This would represent an increase from 76.6 percent a year earlier, with the report attributing the development to the depreciation of the cedi, widening government deficit and rising debt service costs.

It further attributed Ghana losing its access to international capital markets as another contributing factor.

"Debt is expected to jump in Ghana to 104.6% of GDP, from 76.6% a year earlier amid a widened government deficit, massive weakening of the cedi, and rising debt service costs," the report noted.

Inflation hits 33.9%, highest in 21 years:

In August 2022, GhanaWeb reported that Ghana's consumer price inflation had hit a 21-year record high of 33.9%, according to the Ghana Statistical Service.

This meant that prices of goods and services went up by 2.2% between July and August 2022.

July's inflation stood at 31.7%. Government statistician Samuel Kobina Annim, who announced the rate on September 14, 2022, said for the first time in 2022, month-on-month inflation was 1.9%, the lowest this year.

Food prices:

Multiple reports have shown that in the history of Ghana's fourth republic, the rates at which food prices have been increasing in recent years have been nothing as have been experienced before.

For instance, food vendors now sell one egg at GH¢2.50p compared to GH¢1 in 2021. The raw eggs on the shelves of provision shops are also being sold between GH¢2 and GH¢1.50p for one, whereas they were sold at 70 pesewas and 80 pesewas depending on size.

The same situation has affected the prices of rice.

A 5-kilogram bag of rice now sells at almost GH¢100 and more, GhanaWeb's checks have revealed. The alarming rate of the increase has been attributed to the increase in fuel prices and the rippling effects on transport fares.

During a market survey by GhanaWeb on August 15, 2022, Ama Amoabea, a seller of grains, including rice, beans, and other products at the Lapaz Newmarket, said the price of rice had increased from GH¢300cedis for 25kg, translating to GH¢60 for each 5kg bag.

"The foreign ones too are becoming expensive, it was 300 cedis at first, but it is 350 cedis and 400 cedis currently. They told us that since transportation fares have been increased, the prices of everything have increased as well, so they should reduce transportation so that we can also reduce the prices," she said.

Fuel prices:

At the fuel pumps in 2022, Ghanaians are having to pay more than they have ever paid before. The prices of petroleum products have been soaring since the start of 2022, with petrol currently selling at GH¢13 per litre, while Diesel is selling at GH¢16 per litre across various pumps in the country.

It must be noted that in 2021, fuel prices at the pumps were at GH₵5, with the start of 2022 seeing the prices jump to GH₵6.

Public transport fares were also affected by this, with all other forms of products and food items eventually being affected.

Now, let’s take a look at other major happenings in the year 2022 that have contributed to Ken Ofori-Atta being adjudged as the Man of the Year.

NPP MPs demand sack of finance minister:

In October 2022, a group of New Patriotic Party (NPP) Members of Parliament petitioned President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to sack the Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, and the Minister of State at the finance ministry, Charles Adu Boahen, to restore public confidence in the economy.

Their spokesperson, Andy Kwame Appiah-Kubi, the MP for Asante-Akim North, said on Tuesday, October 25, 2022, that it will not do business with the government nor support the 2023 budget if the president fails to heed their calls.

According to them, the move follows previous concerns sent to the government that had not yielded any positive results.

"We have had occasions to defend allegations of conflicts of interest, lack of confidence, and trust against the leadership of the finance ministry.

“The recent development within the economy is of major concern to our caucus and our constituents. We have made our grave concern to our president through the parliamentary leadership and the leadership of the party without and positive response,” Andy Appiah Kubi said.

The MPs believed the move will change the current economic situation in the country.
The MPs were however compelled to relax their stance after the president held a meeting with them, urging them to allow the minister complete an IMF deal, as well as for him to present the 2023 budget to parliament.

Vote of censure:

The Minority Leader in Parliament, Haruna Iddrisu, and the Ranking Member on the Finance Committee of Parliament, Cassiel Ato Forson, led a motion for the removal of Ken Ofori-Atta as the Minister of Finance.

Listing their reasons for the vote of censure, the Minority outlined some seven points as follows:

a. Despicable conflict of interest ensuring that he directly benefits from Ghana’s economic woes as his companies receive commissions and other unethical contractual advantages, particularly from Ghana’s debt overhang

b. Unconstitutional withdrawals from the Consolidated Fund in blatant contravention of Article 178 of the 1992 Constitution, supposedly for the construction of the President’s Cathedral.

c. Illegal payment of oil revenues into offshore accounts, in flagrant violation of Article 176 of the 1992 Constitution.

d. Deliberate and dishonest misreporting of economic data to Parliament

e. Fiscal recklessness leading to the crash of the Ghana Cedi which is currently the worst-performing currency in the world

f. Alarming incompetence and frightening ineptitude, resulting in the collapse of the Ghanaian economy and an excruciating cost of living crisis

g. Gross mismanagement of the Ghanaian economy which has occasioned untold and unprecedented hardship

The motion was eventually referred to an ad hoc committee set up by the Speaker of Parliament, Alban Bagbin, and co-chaired by the Members of Parliament for Adansi-Asokwa and Bolgatanga East, K.T. Hammond and Dominic Ayine, respectively.

After a number of sittings spanning a period of 7 days, the 8-member ad hoc committee presented its findings to the Speaker of Parliament.

After delivering the findings to the House, Alban Bagbin called for a motion to be moved for a vote to be taken on the findings, following which all the Members of Parliament on the Majority side staged a walkout, including the Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, and the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General, Godfred Dame, who were also in parliament.

The motion failed as the votes in favour of it were less than the two-thirds of the House (183 votes) needed for it to be passed.

Only 136 National Democratic Congress Members of Parliament who were present in the House voted in favour of the motion as their colleague MPs from the Majority caucus were absent.

Delivering the verdict of the motion, the Speaker of Parliament, Alban Bagbin, said “This House, hereby resolves as follows to pass a vote of censure on the minister responsible for finance.

“Those in favour after the secret vote is 136. Does against 0. Attentions 0.

“Now in accordance with Article 82 (1) which reads Parliament may by a resolution supported by not less than two-thirds of all the Members of Parliament pass a vote of censure on a minister of state,” he said

He added that: “Following the terms of vote of censure by Article 82(1) the vote is accordingly lost.”

While it appears as if the minister has been left off the hook for now, not all the MPs from his party have completely backed down on their calls for him to be sacked.

Nonetheless, Ken Ofori-Atta continue to remain at post, with President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo giving indications many times that he is not ready to sack the minister, and once describing his performance as “exceptional.”

Whatever the case is, the Minister of Finance cannot run away from the tag of the most popular politician of 2022, easily making him GhanaWeb’s Man of the Year in retrospect.