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Opinions of Wednesday, 18 October 2006

Columnist: Okyere Bonna

Where Is President Kufour's Public Relations Machine?

Does the media make it appear as if the Establishment or the Presidency of Kufour has done nothing or maybe the public relations (PR) of the Establishment is taking the people of Ghana for granted? The media, for instance, has been telling us so much of the many travels of President Kufour without mentioning any or little of the positive outcomes of Kufour’s presidency except for his per-diem allowances. I think this is not fair on Kufour’s administration. But I might be quick to blame it on the President’s PR (spokes person) or lack of political propaganda.

Some of us may be so critical on the government not because we love to do so but we do so based on the on the information available. Usually the secrecy of our government makes the work of the media as well as political analyst very difficult. Lack of information leads to rumors-mongering as there remains some shroud of secrecy over public material information in African politics.

A careful look into the economy of Ghana today (September 2006) may reveal that President Kufour’s NPP is not doing all that poorly as it may appear to most of us and that the Establishment is not all that evil although I must admit there are many selfish ones among them.

One wonders why the Kufour-NPP has been unsuccessful in winning the appreciation of the masses if the 2006 IMF report is a true picture of Ghana’s economy today. Then the PR for President Kufour has not been good enough or effective enough to dissipate the anger and frustrations of the people against the presidency. Unlike the NDC regime of President Rawlings, the NPP regime of President Kufour has been too quiet on its accomplishments. For instance a review of the 2006 IMF report, (Press Release No. 06/190), issued on September 5, 2006 - (portions herein cited) show some significant growth in the economy of Ghana since NPP assumed office. I was hoping to read it or hear more of it from the President’s office but no one has seen the importance of drumming it in the minds of the electorate. If NPP wants to be appreciated it cannot choose to be quiet.

Before NPP

It must be recalled that under the NDC government, following a protracted period of serious economic decline, Ghana enjoyed considerable success from 1983 under an economic recovery program supported by a series of IMF loans, the most recent of which was a three-year ESAF arrangement that expired in March 1992. Inflation was brought down from 142 percent in 1983 to 10 percent by the end of 1991, real GDP growth averaged about 5 percent a year throughout most of the period, and the balance of payments registered sizable overall surpluses.

In 1992, the Government encountered serious difficulties in implementing additional economic reforms in the run-up to the first multi-party elections under the new constitution. Consequently the program slipped off track, and strong price and balance of payments pressures re-emerged. Private investment slumped, and real GDP growth slowed to below 4 percent. Efforts to bring economic performance back on track during 1993-94 fell short of expectations, particularly in the areas of monetary policy, as acute financial difficulties experienced by the national oil company led to a rapid expansion in the money supply in 1994. The annual rate of inflation more than doubled in 1993 and increased to 34.2 percent by end-1994, and Ghana's external current account deficit deteriorated sharply from 3.6 percent of GDP in 1991 to 9.2 percent in 1993, before stabilizing at 4.9 percent in 1994 (Press Release No. 95/38 July 3, 1995)

According to IMF report,

1. Ghana's economic performance has been very satisfactory since 2000. Real GDP growth has increased from 3.7 percent in 2000 to 5.9 percent in 2005. This has led to more than a doubling of the growth of real GDP per capita—from 1.2 percent in 2000 to 3.2 percent in 2005. Therefore, at the current pace, the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of halving income poverty by 2015 should be achieved ahead of schedule.

2. Even though the process of disinflation has not been smooth, 12-month inflation declined from 40.5 percent in 2000 to 14.8 percent in 2005. Inflation has been well contained more recently—apart from the impact of oil price increases (in the context of high world prices and the recent adoption of a full-cost pass-through regime). Noticeably, headline inflation declined to single digit levels in March-April 2006 for the first time in more than 20 years.

3. Satisfactory policy implementation has underpinned the remarkably good economic performance throughout the program period of 2003-06. The overall fiscal deficit has been reduced from 6.7 percent of GDP in 2002 to 3.0 percent of GDP in 2005. Total public debt declined substantially as a result of both fiscal prudence and debt relief under the enhanced Heavily-Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative and the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative (MDRI)—from about 24 percent of GDP in 2002 to about 11 percent of GDP in 2005.

4. Increased public spending on education and health, together with better management has led to:

(i) an increase in the net enrollment ratio in primary education from 60.7 percent in 2000 to 65 percent in 2005;

(ii) improvement in the ratio of girls to boys in primary education from 0.93 in 2000 to 0.96 in 2005; and

(iii) stabilization in infant and under-5 child mortality rates.

According to the report, by 2005, 75 percent of the total population in Ghana had access to improved water sources. All of these are important achievements in the context of a challenging environment that required steadfastness in the pursuit of difficult economic reforms. In assessing performance under the PRGF-supported program all but one of the quantitative performance criteria was met- the ceiling on the net domestic assets of the Bank of Ghana for end-June 2006 was exceeded for technical reasons. This, according to the Mission indicates progress in implementing structural reforms, with the structural performance target being observed. Therefore, the mission recommends to the IMF management that the seventh installment under the PRGF arrangement of about US$17.7 million be disbursed as scheduled in October 2006 (Press Release No. 06/190; September 5, 2006). It must also be noted that the interest rate on 91-day treasury bills, a key reference rate for the money market fell from 42½ percent at the end of 1997 to 33½ percent at end-July 1998. The real interest rate on the 91-day treasury bill rates also declined from 18 percent at the end of 1997 to 10 percent at end-September 1998.

5. Ghana's macro-economic performance has in 2006 received international recognition. According to Business News of Wednesday September 6, 2006, Ghana is ranked within the first 10 business performers in the world today. The Report released on September 1, 2006 by World Bank/International Finance Corporation (IFC) ranking placed Ghana at the ninth position out of a total of 175 countries. Tanzania was the only other African country that joined the league of the top 10, coming after Ghana. The criteria for selection included among other things access to credit, property registration, interest rate and taxes(

6. The latest data on Human Poverty Index, according to the same IFC report, shows that poverty in the country has declined from 51.7 per cent in 1998/99 to 41.0 per cent in 2002/2003(As cited in GNA).

Another news that the PR of the incumbent NPP administration has not been marketing or advertising would be Kufour’s pledge to compensate the victims of atrocities meted out by agents of the Rawlings regime- capital equipment, plots of land, a fleet of vehicles, bank accounts, physical cash in both local and foreign currencies, gold bars, household valuables and many others- that were seized ILLEGALLY.

If all these are true, is it not obvious that the public relations of the President is poorly disseminating some pertinent information?

Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.

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