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Opinions of Sunday, 31 March 2019

Columnist: Philip Afeti Korto

The need to re-arrest the depreciated cedi without partisan politics

The depreciation of the Ghana cedi against the American Dollar over the years with its heightened trends especially in the latter parts of 2018 and early 2019 has been worrisome for many Ghanaians especially those importing goods from other countries. It equally affects fuel prices at the pumps.

Even though stabilizing the cedi calls for a political will, such a will should not have been reduced to mere partisan political gimmicks and propaganda just to score cheap political points.

Unfortunately, the political leaders of the divides we have elected have engaged in the blame game over the years instead of coming together to think the strategic way forward to make the cedi stable against any major currency.

Such a propaganda descended to the unfortunate level where the current Vice President, Alhaji Mahamudu Bawumia said government had arrested the cedi, kept it in cells and the keys to the cells were in the custody of the Inspector General of Police. In my view, this was a play on words to just provide a comic relief as a typical Ghanaian does even in times of a crisis situation.

Taken differently however, such an assertion from an Economist who happens to be our Vice President gave us a lot of hope that government had put some serious futuristic measures in place to stabilize the cedi against the US Dollar especially.

But alas!, the cedi broke jail even under the watch of the IGP and depreciated to an abysmal rate of Ghc5. 58 against $1. Suffice it to say that a GHC1000. 00 in the pocket of an importer or a globe trotter means only about $179.

As if this was not disturbing enough, the partisan political propaganda regarding the cedi depreciation against the USD lingers with the NDC economic team singing their praises and blaming the NPP government for the fall of the cedi.

I have come to realize that the main enemy of the politician in Ghana is his or her own past utterances that were meant to jab an opponent. This is because, in the past, the Vice President when he was a running mate once said the depreciation of the cedi against the Dollar rather is rather an economic dictator that exposes how weak the country's economic fundamentals are.

One wonders if the current worsen exchange rate between the cedi and the Dollar under his watch will make our Vice President sing the same song.

Strangely, the NDC also tends to behave as if the cedi had never depreciated against the Dollar under their watch. In any case, has the NDC not run more terms in government than the NPP in the Fourth Republic?

It was therefore heartwarming to hear that the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo Addo has announced that he will soon constitute a bipartisan committee to look into the causative factors germane to the Cedi depreciation. This is a timely and a nationalistic call in the right direction. It emphasizes that elders must not allow a pregnant goat to deliver its kid while tethered to a stationary object.

It is more pleasing to read in the media that "The Minority in Parliament has indicated its readiness to serve on the government's proposed bipartisan committee to address the structural causes of the depreciation of the Cedi."

One can only hope ardently that when constituted, the bipartisan committee will eschew the mere political game and focus on finding a strategic solution for the problem. This is because, whenever an army is divided at war, the result is a defeat by the enemy. As such, any effort to stabilize the Cedi against the Dollar which is a foreign currency must be supported without internal partisan political rivalry.

We even hope that in future, solving such sensitive national problems will receive the required synergy devoid of cynicism from all political divides.

It should not be lost on us that even Archbishop Duncan Williams' prayers could not save the Cedi against the Dollar, indicating that certain problems such as depreciation of the Cedi against the US Dollar call for physical and not spiritual solutions.

I wish the bipartisan committee well in advance.

Asante Sana