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Opinions of Monday, 30 October 2017

Columnist: Kwaku Badu

Ghanaians voting NPP out in 2008 remains the biggest mistake ever (I)

I am of the firm conviction that Ghanaians made a terrible mistake by voting NPP out in 2008 election, as Ghana, as a matter of fact and observation, was heading towards the right direction following the eight years of prudent governance by Ex-President Kufuor and his dynamic team.

In retrospect, Ex-President John Agyekum Kufuor took over the presidency from former President J. J. Rawlings on 7th January 2001.

It is worth pointing out that former President Rawlings ruled the country for nineteen years. The first part of his regime, which lasted eleven years, was an abhorrent imposition through a series of coup d’états.

Although the PNDC and NDC administrations back then paraded some seasoned politicians, the vast majority of the military personnel who headed important Ministries were novices in the political scene.

Unsurprisingly, therefore, Rawlings’s administration adopted a seemingly disastrous Economic Recovery Programme (ERP), which was introduced under the auspices of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Regrettably, the vast majority of tangible national assets, including the state owned enterprises were allegedly sold to friends and families for pittance.

In practice, the apparent unfavourable Economic Recovery Programme culminated in a catalogue of hardships. And, on top of the harsh programmes and policies which threatened the economic fundamentals, the population had to clutch itself for food shortages, a situation which the world press somehow ignored in favour of the concurrent Ethiopian famine that resulted in millions of deaths.

Indeed, their desperate attempt to initiate the Programme of Action to Mitigate the Social Costs of Adjustment (PAMSCAD) did nothing to improve the unfortunate situation as untold hardships permeated many households.

Starvation, so to speak, visited the vast majority of Ghanaians, and hence developing revoltingly ugly collar bones, which the humorous Ghanaians renamed as “Rawlings Chain”. That was indeed the pernicious extent of the hunger.

Perhaps, in juxtaposition, the 1983 hunger was comparable to that of the Ethiopian famine back then. Nevertheless, Ghana’s famine was not hyperbolised by the global media.

Somehow, both Ghana and Ethiopia were back then ruled by uncompliant military dictatorships that looked on cluelessly and somehow unperturbed whilst the citizens endured widespread hunger.

And, as food shortages escalated in Ghana, some traders started creating artificial shortages of goods by hoarding them so as to charge exorbitant prices at a later time.

Disappointingly, despite being in power for nineteen years, former President J. J. Rawlings’s could not initiate any meaningful policies and programmes to improve on the socio-economic standards of living, but only managed to destabilise Ghana’s macroeconomic indicators.

Thus, President Kufuor had a tough time running the country, as there was not much funds left in the national purse to plan anything meaningful.

Ghana was then declared as Highly Indebted Poor Country (HIPC). The newly elected President Kufuor had a tough decision to make, by either embracing or rejecting the HIPC status. However, the forward thinking President Kufuor chose to swallow a bitter pill with a view to getting over the malaise. He thus pragmatically embraced the HIPC status in 2001.

On reflection, the benefits of the HIPC were unprecedented during former President Kufuor’s administration, from (2001-2008).

Consequently, macroeconomic indicators begun to stabilize and Ghana’s debt stock was significantly reduced by about $4 billion within that period (BOG).

Besides, as a result of the HIPC initiative and prudent borrowing, Ghana’s external debt stock actually declined from $6.1 billion in 2000 to$3.8 billion by 2008 (BOG). It was an unprecedented achievement, so to speak.

It is also worth stressing that the average GDP growth of the NDC from 1993-2000 was 3.8% while that of the NPP from 2001-2008 was5.2% with economic growth reaching 6.3% in 2007 and 9.1 in 2009 (GSS/BOG).

As it was expected, former President Kufuor successfully completed his first term in office (four years), having successfully managed to stabilise the macroeconomic indicators.

Subsequently, the good people of Ghana handed him the mandate for another four year term following a keenly contested presidential election on 7th December 2004.

Let us face it, it would be an understatement to point out that former President Kufuor’s pragmatic policies and programmes reaped tremendous results. Due to time and space constraints, I will only enumerate a few of his wonderful achievements during his tenure in office.

1.Helped moved Ghana from HIPC status to Lower Middle Income status.

2.Ghana received a debt relief of around $4 billion, spreading over 20 years period.

3.Built numerous infrastructural projects, including not less than 5 interchanges. However, the then opposition communicators led by John Dramani Mahama said back then that the erection of infrastructural projects remains only an exercise in mediocrity.

4.Discovered oil in commercial quantities before handing over power to the late Mills (Ghana has since received over $3 billion in revenue).

5.Increased the economic growth from around 3.5 in 2001 to around 9.1 in 2009.

6.Quadrupled Ghana’s GDP to $28 billion by 2008.

7.Introduced free Maternal Care.