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General News of Monday, 31 March 2014

Source: Myjoyonline.com

Mahama warned: Sign EPA deal, kiss your vision goodbye

President John Mahama's vision of transforming the Ghanaian economy could see a devastating turn if he leads ECOWAS to sign the Economic Partnership Agreement, Coordinator of the Third World Network Africa Region, has cautioned.

According to Dr. Yao Graham, what is required now to overcome the pressures associated with the signing of the EPAs, is bold leadership and a dynamic view of the country’s trade policy.

Leaders at the just ended 44th Ordinary Session of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Authority of Heads of Government in Cote d’Ivoire deferred the signing of the trade agreement with the European Union to next two months. It follows the leaders' inability to reach a consensus.

Speaking on "Inside Afrika" on Accra-based Radio Universe, Dr. Graham challenged President Mahama who is now the ECOWAS Chairman, to be bold not to sign the EPA.

“A time comes when great leaders mark themselves out by taking difficult decisions…We hope that President Mahama chairing ECOWAS in the coming period seizes his opportunity of leaving his mark for the better not only on Ghana but West Africa rather than be remembered as the leader under whose watch Ghana and the region of West Africa was sold out,” he said.

In a related development, Dr. Graham has criticised the Minister for Trade and Industry, Haruna Idrisu for failing to organise a Stakeholder’s Forum to examine the implications of signing the EPA, before attending the conference.

The minister had told Joy FM reporter on the sidelines of the conference that: “What we need to do as a country within the next two months is to engage stakeholders to appreciate what the EPA means…What will be its implication on our fiscal situations; ramifications for industry and tax revenues”.

But Dr. Graham in a response indicated: “When I heard the Minister of Trade on radio, I am probably not being generous to him because it sounded like they needed to explain to the population the price we have to pay for the EPAs as opposed to a stakeholder’s forum that will affect the decisions".

“When the ECOWAS Trade Ministers met in February, they agreed that each country should have a stakeholders forum but our government came and sat on its hands,” he told Yaw Acheampong, host of the programme.

He added that several empirical studies have been conducted on the implications of EPAs by his organisation and several organizations, which the government could rely upon in order to make a well informed decision about the EPAs.