Feature Article of Monday, 5 March 2012

Columnist: Tetteh, Ephraim

The shameful half truths of the NDC Forum

Normally, we the members of the Ghana Public Procurement Observatory (GPPO) will not be interested in responding to issues raised by the propaganda arm of the NDC under the guise of "setting the records straight in the country" because among other things we expect the opposition parties particularly the NPP to respond to some of these issues by themselves. However, we have been compelled to come out and point certain distortions in the forum's presentation which we think are plain party propaganda or outright lies, lest some unsuspecting ghanaians fall for these deceitful propaganda innuendoes.

Infact the situation becomes all the more alarming if personalities like Hon. Fiifi Kwettey and Hon. Elvis Afriyie Ankrah ;dep ministers of finance and local government respectively and other senoir government officials who should know better, make spurious public pronouncements and thereby give offiicial cover to these propaganda statements to make them believable. But before we proceed to address some of the issues presented , we want to make it emphatically clear as we have stated elsewhere in other fora that the GPPO is not against the NDC government or any political party for that matter. What we are against and what we will resist any day, is any attempt by any group or any individual to run this country down by overt or covert means which includes thievery of the national treasury (public corruption) or by throwing dangerous lies into the public domain to create national disequilibrium. Likewise we shall applaud all genuine efforts that have the propensity of making Ghana wealthier and more united as the country moves forward. Now, we will cross examine President Mills achievements as trumpeted by the NDC forum to determine the merits therein. The achievements of President Mills governance as indicated by the forum are summarised below

1. unprecedented GDP growth rate

2. unprecedented gross external reseves

3. unprecedented stability of the economy

4. unprecedented rise in FDIs and portfolio investments

5. unprecedented feat in the convergence criteria for the WAMZ

6. unprecedented revenue to GDP ever chalked in a year

7. unprecedented low inflation rate

8. unprecedented low budget deficit

9. unprecedented single spine salary scheme

10.unprecedented one million metric tonnes of cocoa

11.unprecedented petrol price hedging scheme

12.unprecedented transparent scheme for the management of the petroleum revenues.

Clearly, the first eight achievements listed above draw from the meteoric 14% growth rate of the economy in 2011.Obviously this growth rate derives almost single handedly from the contribution of oil in 2011. Instructively, the commercial oil found by the NPP in year 2007 began to hit the national revenue stream in 2011 and it's impact as had been expected, has been dramatic. To quote one Alhaji Adamu in an excellent article he wrote about Ghana's economy recently "we all know the economy did that well in 2011 not because of any special measures the NDC introduced in 2011, but simply as a result of the oil factor. In fact , if you take the oil factor of 8% from the composite figure , you will be left with a paltry growth rate of around 6% , and this is not surprising since the growth rates of 2009 and 2010, when they were in office and when the oil had not come in , all recorded less than 6% growth rate. Now contrast this with the NPP's achievement in 2008, the last of the NPP's years in office, when a growth rate of 8.4% was recorded and determine whose record is better. Similarly the boosted external reserves and improved inflation which the NDC are quick to highlight are all solid beneficiaries of the oil effect". Whether NDC propaganda or not, commercial oil discovered by the previous administration has now become an economic game changer. Otherwise how can Ghana sign a 1.2 billion dollars with SINOPEC of China to build a gas plant in the western region?. Or how can the government of Ghana secure a 3.2 billion dollars out of a maximum 12 billion dollars from China for various projects in Ghana?. Or how can the government of Ghana even dream of considering the "failed" 10 billion dollar housing project for ghanaians?. All these mega porojects are anchored on the oil the NPP found for Ghana.

In our opinion therefore, the foregoing represents a better reflection of what impacted the sudden surge of Ghana's economy in 2011, and it is a sentiment shared by most independent intellectuals reviewing Ghana's economy, including the World Bank and the IMF(see IMF 4th quarter country report). Now, the question we want to ask the NDC is why is the NDC forum not giving oil the credit it deserves for the expansion of the ghanaian economy in 2011.The answer can only be one. The NDC know the truth but they have chosen to play cheap propaganda but this kind of propaganda cannot be extended to officialdom where facts should be solemnly presented as such.This is why the posturing of the deputy finance minister, fiifi kwettey (who cannot be oblivious of the impact of oil on our economy), in his presentation cannot only be mischievous but irredeemably shameful.

Moving on, the technical indices trumpeted as achievements like "the unprecedented revenue to GDP ever chalked in a year", "the unprecedented feat in the convergence criteria for the WAMZ", " the unprecedented low budget deficit ratio" are all trumped up since , they are different facets of the same thing and don't significantly amount to much. Honestly we are still trying to understand why these indices should be touted as major achievements of the Mills' government. The NDC forum also lampooned the HIPC initiative that the Kuffour administation obtained for Ghana and again Fiifi Kwettey had the impudence to state that nothing was obtained from HIPC for the country. Jesus Christ!. This is unbelievable, when as deputy finance minister, Fiifi Kwettey should be one of the first people to acknowledge that at least Ghana obtained a debt cancellation/ relief of over 5 billion dollars after july 2004, when Ghana came out of the HIPC completion point.

If that debt cancellation had not been secured, the NDC government would be paying some of the debt today and we would be witnesses if there would be enough money left for any developmental activity.Even our children and our grandchildren would still have continued to pay the debt. And please remember that, even though the debt comprised outstanding loans starting from osagyefo's first republic, the bulk of it related to the PNDC/NDC(1) era. The 5 billion dollars was even not all the benefit of HIPC. Additionally, as a result of the HIPC program, Ghana was able to benefit from over 2 billion dollars of multilateral and bilateral debt write off after the Gleanagles summit of the G7 in the spring of 2005 in Scotland, which former President Kuffour attended. And again these debt payments were not some abstract or obscure transactions of no consequence. These were real debt service paid offshore to our external creditors like OPEC, BADEA, HSBC, African Devt Bank and so on with hard earned revenue dollars. If these payments had continued will the NDC be having a field day as it is happening now?. Through former President kuffuor, Ghana was saved from having to service these collosal debt payments and instead the money which would otherwise have been used for debt payments was now to be used for development, social programs and essential poverty aleviation in the country. With all this in mind i.e. knowing that HIPC at least made Ghana inherently richer by over 7 billion dollars, how can fiifi kwettey close his eyes, turn around, and say HIPC provided nothing for the country. In any case, which NDC achievement can possibly match this 7 billion dollar HIPC gift for Ghana secured by the NPP. What is even more disgraceful with this type of NDC propaganda is that the NDC pet projects comprising "the issuance of free textbooks to school children","the provision of free school uniforms to school children" and even "the removal of schools under trees" are all largely funded by the HIPC fund. This is indeed very surprising and any surprised reader should read the budget statements of 2009,2010,2011 and 2012 to see where funding for these initiatives were largely sourced from.

We of the GPPO had our problems with the NPP on a number of issues when they were in government. but there are two things nobody can take away from them. Firstly, they made Ghana richer by over 7 billion dollars as a result of the HIPC program and secondly,they found commercial oil for the country which has become the basis for Ghana's future prosperity, a prospect that is being threatened by the NDC's indecent haste to saddle ghanaians with a massive loan stranglehold of over 23 billion dollars in just over 3 years in office.

Dr Ephraim Tetteh

(Ghana Public Procurement Observatory)

Biscayne Bay, Miami