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Opinions of Wednesday, 22 April 2020

Columnist: Michael Nii Yarboi Annan

Michael Nii Yarboi Annan's response to Ken Ofori-Atta


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Yes, we might have to think of Africa but we need to think of a Ghanaian response and then propel it to the level of Africa.

I challenge you to become one of the modern-day martyrs, your responsibility is not to defeat the pandemic but to create a new era of financial independence for Ghana and that model will be replicated in all Africa.

You began your day with a call to China and Israel about ventilators, face masks, gloves and other forms of protection; sorry to say it is the wrong path; challenge the system and we can produce our own ventilators and other protective equipment it is not beyond us. If I am to remind you, England has resort to the use of trash bags as PPE and if I may also borrow the President’s words “we are not in normal times”.

You further called UN Economic Commission for Africa and South Africa’s finance minister to formulate strategies for debt relief - we had the benefit of HIPC relief and after a decade here we are in debt, our challenge going-forward is not debt relief or forgiveness, it's finding an alternative to borrowing for our development.

The rating agencies will only rate you base on your standing in international finance; they really don’t care what you are called or which part of the world you are coming from.

Good you grab a Ghanaian solution of a face mask, go beyond that and provide an alternative to China and Israel. Have faith not fear, the end of the world (apocalypse) has not come, what has come is an opportunity to do things differently to our benefit as a nation. We sort to save-the lives of our youth on the street they are not gone they are home and waiting for a reopen. I do agree with you that 90 per cent of our economy can be found in the informal sector but 90 per cent of interventions taken are geared towards the formal sectors of our economy.

I can now confirm that you have all the solutions for the reopening of our economy which I do agree must be based on science. My office could also be opened for me to go through all these processes you went through before entering into your office. If you have lockdown the 90 per cent at least keep the 10% to ensure you don’t dry up our tax revenues completely. Your three priority areas are perfect, the alleviation programme is needed badly, post-Covid-19 strategy is equally essential and a coordinated African effort towards debt relief is equally essential but what is not a priority for us is a local financial solution to shield this nation from any similar future pandemic.

For a moment I was lost, I thought it was me until you clarify its your personal assistant. Yes, the $3billion is a lifesaver I can attest to that; what I cannot attest to is whether the $3billion will become a lifesaver at its maturity date and when its due for us to service the coupon rate. I prayed this morning that it’s invested in areas that are productive enough to pay for itself at the maturity date lest we have failed again. You inherited the IMF programme and will grant you that you did well to reach the completion point not to talk about the pain we all went through as a nation. The freeze on public sector employment alone was strenuous for our youth nonetheless like Paul said in 2 Timothy 4:7 - I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith. You did what Paul did but Paul’s situation was not a financial situation that is cyclical in nature and very unpredictable. Covid-19 pandemic in your estimation has the potential to wipe out 10 - 15 per cent of our expected 2020 GDP of US$70billion which amounts to US$10.5billion ( I used 15 per cent I am an accountant - prudence) am incline to think about how to regain this loss in our GDP and I hope that features strongly in your post-Covid-19 strategy.

The Presidents measures in response to Covid-19 is something we all appreciate including his political opponent, we have moved on and the contact tracing is yielding results.

Massive disruption of our Economic activities is true but the Bank of Ghana 150 basis point cut and 2 per cent reduction to reserve requirement has not enabled the commercial banks to support industry and businesses as required in these difficult times, in fact if not for your mentioning I had forgotten its existence.
Yes, I will give you answers.

Our economic recovery can go beyond your estimated 3years; I foresee 5years if we don’t find local solution that can be supported by our fiscal structures; but if we do then I can promise you in 3 years we will not only be looking at recovery but growth.

I am frequently interrupted by my daughter who is working on her assignment posted on google classroom. That I cannot describe as callous since it has no place in international trade and the value of my time being disrupted is nowhere near $200million. I am reminded by David who was forgiven but the consequences of his sin were never extinguish by the forgiveness, thus his throne was threatened born out of the sin. In International trade and in the event of a buyer failing to make payment on the purchase, the bank is obliged to cover the full or remaining amount of the purchase. How did we fail in honoring our obligation backed by our successful and timely $3billion Eurobond?

We should have always been in the known that a day cometh when our generous tool kits even if available, will be inadequate to our needs. What we need now is not history, not what certain personalities might think if present but rather to own the future as Ghana and Africa. Capitalism have been strengthened; this is the opportunity to balance the unbalance global architecture.

The world has change can we also as Africa (Ghana) change. What the African finance minister must do is to look within and not without and trust me our future will certainly be greater than our past.

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