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Opinions of Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Columnist: Eric Bawah

Dr. Bawumia: He who flies like a butterfly and stings like a bee

“The men who order and supervise this shameful game of insults, this insidious farce, are afraid of the free word. They fear the power of ideas, the power of the pen. They are so afraid of the power of words that they themselves do not read. And not reading makes you stupid and often brutal” – Ken Saro Wiwa, Nigerian writer and Environmental activist.

Dr. Alhaji Mahamudu Bawumia continues to fascinate me a lot as the election gets closer and closer. Anytime this economic whiz kid sneezes, the NDC propagandists catch cold. What is most interesting is that hard as they try to gag him, the more acidic he becomes. His exposes are thought-provoking. This is a man who continues to work past exhaustion to expose the lies of the NDC despite the insults, vilification, and outright impudent snubs by upstarts who were unemployed and men of straw only yesterday.

When the NDC propagandists led by the Communication Minister jumped into the fray to castigate Dr. Bawumia for challenging the NDC to put a price tag on the projects they are boasting of, he had no choice but to retort that the NDC people do not read. I support this accession because if indeed they read what the man wrote, they would not have been beating about the bush and knocking their heads against the wall as if they are suffering from Mad Cow Disease. My dear and cherish reader, permit me to produce what Dr. Bawumia said at the University of Development Studies, Wa campus. Juxtapose it with the response given by the Communication Minister, Dr. Omane Boama and you can easily see the difference between an academician who knows what he was saying and a power drunken politician who wants to throw dust into the eyes of the citizenry. Listen to Dr. Bawumia:

“What is clear to me (and confirms my long held suspicion) is that members of this government, handed the mandate to manage our destinies as a nation, do not read. Worse of all, as I said on 14th February, 2015, at a forum at the University for Development Studies, what is most unfortunate about this whole episode is the fact that the government doesn’t even seem to know how much it has borrowed. I have on several occasions tried to educate the government on what the true value of their borrowing is but try as I do, it is clear the government is committed to either not reading and understanding the extent of their reckless borrowing or is only following their usual path of deceit and propaganda.

For the benefit of the people of Ghana, I reproduce my comments on this issue contained in the NPP’s Responses to the 2016 Budget, delivered on 2nd December 2015 and pray that this time, members of government will read and be informed.”

“In the last seven years alone under this NDC government, Ghana’s total debt has ballooned from GH¢9.5billion to a projected GH¢99 billion by the end of 2015! Of this, GH¢54 billion ($14billion) is external debt, and GH¢45 billion is domestic debt. What is clear is that 90% (i.e. GH¢89.5billion) of Ghana’s total debt since independence has been accumulated under this NDC government between 2009-2015. It is also important to appreciate the quantum of borrowing that has actually taken place in the last seven years to set the record straight. In US dollar terms, this NDC government has borrowed the equivalent (at the time of borrowing) of about $37 billion in seven years”!!

Contrary to what the government will have us believe, exchange rate depreciation has rather reduced the book value of Ghana’s debt in dollar terms. So that even though government has borrowed the equivalent of $37 billion in 7 years, the book value of the debt would be some $26 billion (GH¢99billion) by the end of 2015. It is important to understand this point because it appears that this government does not.

Take the following example. Assume that today the exchange rate of the cedi to the dollar is 1:1. If you borrow GH¢100 today, it would mean that you have borrowed the equivalent of $100 dollars and you should be able to do projects worth $100. In few years time if the exchange rate depreciates to 4 cedis to one dollar, then the 100 cedis you borrowed a few years ago would be worth some $25 today. This does not however mean that you did not borrow the equivalent of a $100 dollars initially and we should expect to see a $100 worth of projects. You cannot suddenly claim that you actually borrowed $25 a few years ago and so you are only to account for $25 worth of projects. Using current exchange rates in determining the equivalent amount borrowed in the past is misleading because it ignores the value of the debt at the time it was borrowed. Using current exchange rates would underestimate the value of the borrowing because of exchange rate depreciation. We are here concerned about the value of the projects that could have been financed at the time the money was borrowed. Giving the rate of borrowing by this government, it is likely that the total debt at the end of January now exceeds the GH¢99 billion, projected for the end of 2015.

. It is interesting to note that according to the minister of Finance in his 2015 Mid-Year Review, “Ghana’s total public debt stock as at the end of December,2014 stood at GH¢76,665.5 million…….. In dollar terms, the debt stock was US$24,817.1 million. Amazingly, after adding some GH¢20 billion to the debt stock in 2015 alone, the Government still wants to insist that the value of borrowing they have done, in dollar terms, has actually decreased. This exposes the deception in the method the government is applying on our debt stock, in an attempt to hide the real value of monies that have accrued to them.”

If the NDC propagandists do not want to be stupid and brutal, they should read this and stop the tomfoolery.

THE WAY HE SAW THE STATE OF THE NATION

In the normal cause of events, presidents go to the chamber of parliament to report on the State of the Nation. They don’t go there to joke and create comic relief. It is always a serious issue. I thought this year such report was not needed because it had been delivered by the good people of Ghana. We saw it in the nose-dive of agriculture and the fallen standard of education. We saw it in the high crime rate, the Fulani cattle herdsmen menace and the contract killings which has engulfed the nation.. In fact, we saw the state of the nation in the ongoing corruption that has been institutionalized and the incompetence of the Mahama led administration.

We saw the state of the nation in the imposition of unbearable high tariffs and the dumsor. In 2015, we saw the state of the nation in the outbreak of cholera due to dirt which engulfed the big cities and the death that the disease caused. We saw the state of the nation in the numerous strikes, picketing, demonstrations and the highhandedness of the “koti” people and we have all come to realize that in 2015 the state of the nation was WEAK.

The handlers of the president are not doing him any good. Before the gentleman went to parliament to deliver the state of the nation address, they should have sat him down and coach him well. The man deviated and ended up giving promises as if nothing happened in 2015. Thankfully, he will not get another opportunity to deliver the State of the Nation address since he will be going. Any new president who will hold the reins of power, come 2017 should go to the presidential library and make a research in order to know how State of the Nation Address is delivered. I have the opportunity to listen to Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and Gorge Bush Jr. all former presidents of the US when they delivered the State of the Union addresses. Indeed, I have been listening to Barak Obama anytime he delivered the State of the Union Address. As compared to what John Mahama did, you will not be wrong to say he acted like Agya Koo, the comedian. I looked at the faces of members of the Diplomatic Corps as they listened to the delivery and I can bet with my last Ghana Cedi that they were surprised and bemused. That is why I have declined to compose the True State of the Nation Address this year as I used to do in this column anytime the President delivered his State of the Nation Address. I am on strike. After all, everybody is going on strike these days!!!