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Opinions of Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Columnist: Laryea, Mohammed

Turmoil in Mahama's economic management

A long running feud between vice president Amissah-Arthur, who is chairman of the economic management team, and the finance minister, Seth Terkper, and more recently between Mr. Terkper and the president's economic advisor, Dr. Nii Moi Thompson, is said to be raising tempers in the Mahama administration and giving the president sleepless nights.

Insiders say the feud reached a boiling point a few weeks ago when the president, in response to the Occupy Flagstaff House demo, called an emergency economic meeting to address the concerns of the demonstrators.

At that meeting, the minister of finance asked cabinet to approve a mid year review that he said would address the nation's economic problem. However, in the debate that followed Dr. Thompson was said to have described the policies in the reviewing as doing more harm than good. He was said to have opposed the imposition of additional taxes on a weak economy by Mr Terkper, whiles adding that besides budget and trade deficits, the finance minister was also guilty of a "credibility deficit", which was why donors were withholding funds from Ghana and Ghana was being downgraded.

The finance minister, a former technocrat at the IMF, was said not to have taken kindly to they description, leading to an exchange of words between the two gentlemen.

The president reportedly intervened to cool tempers during which time Dr. Omane Boama, minister of communication, suggested that in view of Dr. Thompson's critique, committee be set up to review Minister Terkper's proposals, a position supported by both the vice president and the president.

An angry Mr Terkper was said to have not taken too kindly to this outcomes. To show them where power lies, he decided to exclude the economic management team from the reconsideration of his policies.

The insiders say he waited until the day before he went to parliament before convening a meeting at an Accra Hotel involving some few ministers, the president's communication advisor and Dr. Kpessa Whyte, a presidential staffer and a political scientist.

The economic management team was not involved. The sources say instead a hard copy of the mid-term review was instead sent by Minister Terkper to the vice president's house the night before it was delivered in parliament, in a strategic move to limit any input from the vice president, a former deputy finance minister and governor of the bank of Ghana.

Since the finance minister's "secret" review before parliament which attracted criticism from both home and abroad as inadequate response to the economic problems, tension has mounted in the government with people demanding the sacking of Mr. Terkper. MPs in particular say he is making their jobs difficult.

Others have complained that he is difficult person to work with, an issue which came up during his vetting.

But the president has said repeatedly that he has full faith in him. How he will handle the latest brouhaha remains to be said.