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General News of Monday, 12 May 2014


'Minority would be foolish to boycott Economic Forum'

A Professor of Law, Kwasi Prempeh says the Minority in Parliament would be foolish to boycott the "non-partisan" National Economic Forum (NEF) scheduled for Tuesday at Akosombo in the Eastern region.

The NEF, according to the government, aims at developing a comprehensive blueprint to accelerate the nation’s economic growth. It will be held on the theme, “Changing the narrative: building a national consensus for economic and social transformation.”

But the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) has described it as a public relations gimmick, calculated to keep Ghanaians in the dark about the real state of the economy.

The Party has, therefore, announced that it would stay away from the Forum.

“The supposed national economic forum is really intended to be a PR gimmick calculated to keep the people of Ghana in the dark about the real state of the economy”, the party noted in a statement Monday. It is not immediately clear if the decision will bar the Minority in Parliament from attending.

However, Prof. Prempeh - who is based in the US - believes the Minority must not boycott the NEF.

“If the Minority is planning to boycott this so-called National Economic Forum (NEF), it must think again,” he said, adding: “A boycott would be politically bad for the Minority. In fact, they should not contemplate it at all.” The Prof. made this known in a Facebook post Monday.

Prof. Prempeh said though the NEF was a “partisan ruse”, which was not “convened in good faith”, the Minority still ought to attend.

Explaining further, he described the NEF as unnecessary, saying Parliament, with all its bi-partisan economy-related committees, could serve the purpose of the forum.

Parliament “can hold a joint public hearing and invite experts and those who think they have views and perspectives to offer on our current economic and fiscal situation to appear before the joint committees and share their views and perspectives publicly,” he pointed out.

Prof. Prempeh said, since the government and the Minority were competing for the votes of the electorate, the latter was not obliged to support the former in times of self-inflicted economic hardship.

He said: “We have a robust two-party tradition. When we choose one or the other party to govern, we expect it to govern. And govern it must.

“The Minority has no obligation whatsoever to throw its rivals a lifeline of any sort when the latter is drowning in an economic mess of its own making.” Moreover, according to the Prof., “voters must be allowed to experience and internalize the economic cost of their political choices and preferences.”

The astute legal brain said the government, by organising the NEF, might be setting a political “trap” for the Minority.

“It [the government]simply wants to be able to say, after the fact, when the Minority takes it to task for its poor management of the economy, that if the Minority had better ideas and ways to get us out of the tight corner we are in it could have presented those ideas at the NEF,” he said.

Prof. Prempeh concluded that in order not to be “politically upstaged and outfoxed”, the Minority must attend the NEF and “make its contribution at the forum by raising critical” questions.

An Assistant Professor at Asheshi University, Dr. Ogya Esi, echoed prof. Prempeh’s call on the Minority to attend the event.

Posting on Facebook, Dr. Esi said the Minority should participate in NEF “even if it is for the purpose of making your views clear and putting out a counter-offer.”

Making reference to the Minority’s boycott of vetting for Ministers and Deputy Ministers in 2013, she said the NPP’s “boycott habit” often left the country with “crazy policies and crazy people leading us”.

Dr Esi said whatever the Minority’s presumption of the NEF was, it was still important that they attended the event in the interest of their constituents.

The Assistant Professor urged the Minority to “be there and make your position known, use the opportunity to mainstream your alternate ideas.”

She said even if the Minority’s ideas were rejected, they (the ideas) should be put “onto the table, and in one reportage or the other” to enable Ghanaians to become “better-informed”.