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Opinions of Saturday, 12 October 2019

Columnist: K. Badu

So who says the IMF, EIU and Special Rapporteur are also in Akufo-Addo’s pocket?

Truth be told, the critics could not have been entirely correct for asserting somewhat passionately that President Akufo-Addo has wilfully worsened the plight of Ghanaians since assuming power on 7th January 2017.

The fact, however, remains that under the erstwhile NDC administration, Ghana, unfortunately, experienced massive economic meltdown which regrettably brought to pass harsh socio-economic standards of living.

Given the extent of the economic collapse, it was always going to be very difficult for any government to reverse such mess within a shortest possible time.

More recently, the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), concluded in its country report released on 13 May 2019 that Ex-President John Dramani Mahama will find it extremely difficult to convince discerning Ghanaians into accepting that he is the viable alternative custodian of Ghana’s economy, given the country’s fairly strong economic growth under President Akufo-Addo.

Interestingly, however, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) findings of its September 2019 review of Ghana’s economy support the Economist Intelligence Unit earlier report that Ghana’s economy is in a favourable position under the NPP administration.

In fact, under Akufo-Addo’s presidency, Ghana’s economic growth has moved from a disappointing 3.4% under former President Mahama in December 2016 to over 8%.

And, the previously double digit inflation (15.4% in December 2016) has been reduced drastically to around 7.8% as I write.

And more so since assuming power on 7th January 2017, the Akufo-Addo’s government has rolled out numerous social intervention programmes and policies.

By and large, it is spurious for the sceptics of the Akufo-Addo’s administration to assert that the blossoming economy is not reflecting in the pockets of Ghanaians.

The vast majority of Ghanaians, in hindsight, are benefiting immensely from the implementation of many social intervention programmes and policies.

Take, for example, upon taking office, the Akufo-Addo government took pragmatic steps and restored the Nurses and Teachers Allowances which were regrettably cancelled by the erstwhile Mahama administration.

So do the economic experts want to tell us that such interventions aren’t reflecting in the pockets of the Nurses and Teachers?

In addition, the Akufo-Addo’s government has judiciously distributed the national resources in the form of Free SHS, which paved way for more than 400,000 children a year, including the over 190,000 children who otherwise would not have the opportunity to enter senior high school.

There is no gainsaying the fact that parents are reaping tremendous benefits from the Free SHS policy.

It is anticipated that the government will spend not less than GH5532.83 over a period of three years on each student.

In effect, parents with three children in SHS will be pocketing not less than GH16598.49 over three years.

How can any economist convince some of us, who are mere plebes when it comes to economics that the Free SHS scheme is not reflecting in the lives of Ghanaian parents?

Given the fact that the erstwhile Mahama’s administration wilfully left behind massive debt amidst economic meltdown, it is, indeed, commendable for Akufo-Addo’s government to afford to implement the seemingly admirable, albeit expensive social intervention such as Free SHS.

It is also admirable for the incumbent NPP government to relieve Ghanaians of over eighteen nuisance taxes which had hitherto crippled businesses.

More recently, the sensitive Akufo-Addo government commendably slashed the import taxes (30% on cars and 50% on goods) to the utter delight of importers and Ghanaians as a whole.

In fact, since the announcement of the reductions of benchmark values, some beneficiaries have attested to considerable discounts.

Credible sources have it that following the announcement, the duty on a Toyota Corolla saloon car, for example, has been reduced from GH22, 000 to GH15, 000.

Obviously, there is a considerable discount of GH7000. Isn’t this money going into a Ghanaian pocket?

We also heard another importer narrating how he previously paid GH14000 duty on a certain saloon car and only paid GH9500 after the announcement.

Dearest reader, is this individual not pocketing GH4500 because of good governance?

Clearly, the lives of Ghanaians are being transformed steadily through many pragmatic interventions, such as tax reductions (including import taxes), favourable economic growth, low inflation, gargantuan savings on free SHS, amongst others.

The seasoned journalist, Kweku Baako Jnr hit the nail on the head when he pointed out on Joy FM’s political show (News File) on Saturday 6/04/2019 that the NPP administration led by President Akufo-Addo has performed exceedingly better than the erstwhile NDC government led by former President Mahama.

Juxtaposing the state of the economy in first two years of the two administrations, Kweku Baako Jnr aptly concluded that the economy is in a better shape under the Akufo-Addo’s administration than it was under Mahama’s administration.

Baako Jnr, therefore, asserted poignantly: “There’s no doubt that the Akufo-Addo administration has done far better than the Mahama administration; it’s as simple as that, the figures and the records support it (myjoyonline.com, 6/04/2019).”

The Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Ms Christine Lagarde could not have put it any better when she asserted that the Ghanaian economy is in a better place than it was in the previous years under the John Dramani Mahama’s administration.

Ms Lagarde, however, stressed that the Akufo-Addo’s government had made important gains towards macroeconomic stability, including inflation, which had declined to a single digit and now within the Bank of Ghana’s (BoG’s) tolerance band; buoyant growth, averaging about five per cent between 2015 and 2018, and, over six per cent in 2017-18) and a primary surplus in 2017 for the first time in 15 years (IMF 2018).

It was, therefore, not surprising that after his visit to Ghana, the UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Philip Alston, commended the Akufo-Addo’s government: “Ghana met the targets for halving extreme poverty and halving the proportion of people without access to safe drinking water, and it achieved the goals relating to universal primary education and gender parity in primary school.

“In the period ahead, Ghana is set to become Africa’s fastest-growing economy in 2018. Bloomberg News has proclaimed Ghana as the “Star of Africa in 2018 Lenders’ Economic Forecasts”.

“And in reporting on the same fiscal policy achievements, Le Monde has pointed out that Ghana’s success is not just as the result of an oil-driven boom, but is also due to prudent economic management, an entrepreneurial population, the role of traditional leaders, and good governance.

“In addition, Ghana’s achievements in providing free schooling and free meals to students, and its creation of a health insurance scheme for the whole country are considerable accomplishments (Philip Alston, 2018).”

It is based on such estimable achievements that some of us cannot buy the sceptics assertion that the Akufo-Addo’s blossoming economy is not reflecting in the lives of Ghanaians.

It beggars belief that despite the wanton corruption, the arrogance of power and the crass incompetence exhibited by the erstwhile Mahama administration which resulted in massive economic meltdown, the NDC faithful could still muster the courage to chastise Akufo-Addo, and clamour inexorably for the return of former President Mahama.

Considering the conspicuous and unbridled rot in the Mahama’s administration, some of us cannot help but to giggle over the NDC loyalists renewed zeal to return to power so soon.

It is, indeed, baffling to see the brassbound supporters of NDC fighting tooth and nail to reclaim power barely 33 months after being voted out of power by discerning Ghanaians for the dreadful errors in judgement which brought about massive economic mess.

We, however, hope and pray that Ghanaians will miraculously overcome their perceived beguiling, albeit harmful memory loss so as to hold NDC accountable for the errors in judgement which unfortunately brought the country to its knees.

If anything at all, Ghanaians cannot relent in their efforts to take Mahama and NDC to task for woefully dragging the 14% economic growth in 2011 to a disappointing 3.4% in December 2016.

Ghanaians will definitely hold NDC to account for wilfully raising Ghana’s debt from GH9.5 billion in 2009 to an incredible GH122.4 billion by December 2016 with a little to show for.

Let us be honest, the National Democratic Congress cannot exonerate itself from the blame for collapsing Ghana’s currency beyond redemption. In December 2011, the exchange rate was GH1.65 to $1.

Regrettably, however, due to dreadful economic decision-making, within five years the exchange rate took an unbelievable flight and stood at GH4.20 to $1 by December 2016.

The good people of Ghana cannot so soon forget and forgive former President Mahama and NDC for the business crippling dumsor in the last five years of the erstwhile NDC administration.

Ghanaians cannot so soon forget that Mahama and his NDC government shrunk the GDP from $47 billion in 2011 to $40 billion by December 2016.

Indeed, Ghanaians cannot forgive Mahama for unjustifiably wasting Ghana’s scarce resources on apologists like Madam Akua Donkor of Ghana Freedom Party (GFP) of two four wheel drive cars and a luxury bungalow (estimated to cost a staggering $470,000) for no work done.

Truly, no one can fault Ghanaians for holding Mahama and NDC responsible for egregiously giving away over 58% of Ghana’s bauxite to Ibrahim Mahama and his partners on 29th December 2016, just a little over one week before exiting power.

Discerning Ghanaians cannot so soon forget the over GH800 million dubious judgment debt payments, including the GH51.2 million to Woyome, $30 million to the Waterville and $325,000 to Isofoton which resulted in the drastic reduction of capital expenditure, and as a consequence, most contractors were not paid by the erstwhile NDC administration.

Besides, the $175 million loan facility secured in 2012 meant to provide seven district hospitals which the NDC hierarchy misapplied is still fresh in the memories of Ghanaians.

To be quite honest, some of us would be extremely surprised if Ghanaians failed to teach Mahama and NDC a great lesson for clandestinely diverting $6 million of a government loan facility of $175 million meant to provide seven district hospitals into researching the then governing NDC’s chances of winning the 2016 general elections.

If we do the arithmetic of the $175 million loan facility which was supposed to provide seven district hospitals, each hospital should have cost us $25 million.

Credible sources have it that out of the seven district hospitals, only the one in Dodowa in the Greater Accra Region received the full funding and was thus completed successfully.

The all-important question then is: where is the rest of the $175 million loan facility?

How can we advance as a nation when some shameless individuals keep hiding behind party coloration, devoid of patriotism and disgustingly squandering our scarce resources to the detriment of the poor and disadvantage Ghanaians?

Dearest reader, tell me, if the wanton bribery and corruption, the stashing of national funds by some greedy opportunists , the misappropriation of resources and the crude embezzlement of funds meant for developmental projects by some public officials do not warrant criminal charges, then where are we heading as a nation?

In fact, Ghanaians shouldn’t let go the sadness over the GH200 million SADA funds wasted on trees and the guinea fowls which shockingly flew to the neighbouring Burkina Faso without a trace. How bizarre?

Who says discerning Ghanaians will so soon forget the scandalous Bus Branding, the Brazil World Cup, SUBA, GYEEDA, SSNIT, NCA, the NDC MPs double salary, amongst others?

Since the birth of Ghana’s Fourth Republic (from 1993 to present), the nation has regrettably lost billions of dollars meant for developmental projects through unbridled bribery and corruption.

In ending, Ghanaians will definitely shrug off the chronic amnesia and ventilate their arousing disgust over NDC’s dreadful errors in decision-making which culminated in harsh socio-economic standards of living.