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Opinions of Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Columnist: Akoto, Akwasi A. Afrifa

Re: Setting the Record Straight?

The first question Ghanaians should ask is this: What NPP would have done, in their first term, with all the historic resources currently at Mills’ disposal? Mills has inherited oil, an expanded economy, and record world prices for commodities such as cocoa, gold, oil among others.

The next question is what NPP would have done with the $11billion that Mills has so far contracted? In 4 years, Mills has borrowed more money than all previous governments – from Nkrumah to the NPP- combined.
The third question is how come the NPP were not able to borrow even a quarter of the $11 billion in its first term, let alone the whole 8 years? In fact it had to take 7 years before the NPP could contract the biggest loan of its administration, the $750m; whereas it took Mills less than a year to get $1 billion. To find out, the third question would have to be answered first.
When NPP took over in 2001, the economy was so bad, that the country would have been laughed out of world financial institution offices had it tried to borrow any significant amount of money. The size of the economy in 2000 as against the country’s debt of $8 billion was indeed very discouraging to investors. Thus Kufuor had no choice but to go HIPC for the country to get a fresh start after 20 years of P/ndc misrule.
To restore investors’ confidence, it was also essential for the monetary sector to undergo massive reforms. The NPP thus had to start over with monetary reforms through legislative instruments such as the Financial Responsibility Act, the Financial Administration Act and the Public Procurement Act. The most important of all the reforms however was turning the monetary sector on its head. For the first time, the monetary policy came to dominate the fiscal policy. With these reforms, the country was then given a “new lease on life.”
Amidst these reforms and the economic handicap inherited, the NPP, nonetheless, was able to execute its mandate with “unprecedented” projects such Metro Mass transport, NHIS, the doubling of enrollment in primary and secondary education etc . As a result, the country would appreciatively reward Kufuor with a second term.
In its second term, the NPP’s diligent work to increase the nation’s wealth would result in the discovery of oil. The prudent management of the economy and the sound political atmosphere would once again tweak the interest of the world. Consequently, the country would win the MCA account among others and the world would signal its confidence in our economy with the $750m Euro bond…. after 7 long years.
Thus when Mills came in a year later, the country was ready to take off. So, in order to “set the record straight,’” the ultimate question Ghanaians should ask is this: what has Mills done with this opportunity? What has he done with the oil, with the expanded economy, with the 1million tons of Cocoa, with the record prices for commodities and with investors’ confidence in the county?
In its December 2011 report, the Monetary Policy Committee revealed that the country’s debt which stood at GHc 8.8 billion in 2008 has now risen to GHc 23.4 billion, an increase of 166%. So what has Mills done with the GHc 15 billion plus, in 4 years?
According to deputy economic minister Fifi “no Muslim can be president” Kwetey, who made Mills’ achievements known in the second series of the propaganda forum “Setting the Record Straight,” government has built a thousand school under trees, roads, a buffer stock, irrigation wells, railways etc. Government, he says, has also acquired harvesters, ambulances, fire engines, navy ships, air force planes and many other exotic machines and has paid off the so-called TOR debt left by the NPP.
We also know and it is on record that Mills has given Woyome $52 million; CP and Waterville have also received their multi-million dollars. Overall almost $500 million in judgment debts have been given out. We also know of the $45 million for the Atlases, the 200% increase in school constructions, GHc 40 per free school uniform, the free exercise books and presidential cups etc. So the nation is very much aware of what Mills has done.
However, what we are not aware of is whether all these “projects” plus the record payouts and freebies measure up to the GHc 16 billion in 4 years. Did the nation get its money's worth? And as Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo asked not longer ago, “Sika wo ho he,” to wit, “where is the money?” And if not the money, where are the corresponding projects? These are the questions Ghanaians are going to ask President Mills in December. And these are the question the nation would like Deputy Minister Fifi Kwetey to address in his next series of “Setting the Record Straight,” ….before the $3 billion Chinese loan is “gargantuanly” disbursed.
Akwasi A.Afrifa Akoto