General News of 2013-12-04

Free the money – Duncan Williams tells Mahama

The worsening economic situation in Ghana is beginning to attract discomfort even for those who have hitherto been modest in their criticisms of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC).

On Sunday evening during the 35th Convention of the Christian Action Faith Ministries (Action Chapel), the gloomy economy situation forced Archbishop Nicholas Duncan-Williams, the General Overseer of Action Chapel, to explode with consternation, challenging President John Dramani Mahama and his lieutenants to “free the economy”.

“Free the economy; let some money be in our pockets. Mr. Chief of Staff, move some things, move some things!” Archbishop Duncan-Williams lashed out at a befuddled President Mahama and his Chief of Staff, Prosper Douglas Kweku Bani who were present at the church’s convention.

“You have the mandate, take some decisions. Minister of Finance, free the economy! Pay the contractors, pay some people,” the charismatic cleric challenged the Mahama Administration in an extremely charged voice.

President Mahama and some key government officials had apparently stormed the Action Chapel to seek divine intervention regarding the shrinking economy, but instead received a fair dose of tongue-lashing from the enraged Archbishop.

“…We want the economy to move; we want to feed our children, pay their school fees, and provide for our families, live decent lives…Just fix the economy. Feed us, Feed us!”

The Mahama Administration has been widely criticized for its faulty priorities and policies that have led to mounting public debts and a plummeting macro-economic indicators that have forced the government to cut subsidies, hike prices and introduce additional taxes.

Economists have asserted that these factors are the consequent causes of the dire economic predicament recently being faced by both the government and individuals in the country.

“….We don’t care who is in office, we don’t care which party is in office, as long as we can pay our children’s school fees, as long as we can solve the problems of traffic on our roads,” the highly vocal cleric charged the Mahama Administration.

It is unclear how the Mahama Administration will turn the situation around given the public debt it finds itself neck-deep in.

Latest figures from the Bank of Ghana indicate that the country’s public debt had hit GH¢46.1 billion as at the end of September this year, constituting about 54 percent of the country’s total Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Experts have warned that debt levels of that nature could collapse the economy, noting that the levels are inching closer to the critical 60 of GDP. That mark has been classified by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank ‘as dangerously high’.

But the Governor of the Central Bank appears not to be alarmed by the trend.

Answering questions from journalists at a meeting to review the health of the economy last week, Governor Dr. Kofi Wampah said the public debt has not reached levels that should raise any concerns. “Studies have shown that even for Ghana, we will still be sustainable depending on what the debt is used for,” he assured.

But critics think otherwise, blaming such compounding debts and budget deficit on a government having an unbridled appetite for overspending.

Experts, including Albert David Osei, a former Country Director of the World Bank, reason that the economic dilemma of Ghana is not much about people not having money in their pockets, but the fact that the political leadership of the country has displayed a gross lack of efficient management of the country’s resources.

“At the end of the day, in Ghana, it is not money that is the biggest constraint, it is managing things efficiently,” stated Mr. Osei on current affairs programme- “Tarzan’s Take” on Multi TV Sunday.

“I don’t think anybody will believe me if I told them the monies granted to Ghana [from donor partners] for public sector reform as of now must exceed $400 million,” stated the economist who has been a Resident Representative of the World Bank in Burkina Faso, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.

He said management is about priorities, and therefore counseled Ghana’s decision makers to stop going for budgetary support from the World Bank for everything.