General News of 2014-05-14

NPP Economic Forum snub: Pianim dares party

An economist and leading member of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Mr. Kwame Pianim, says the leading opposition party took a bad decision when it refused to participate in the on-going National Economic Forum at Senchi in the Eastern Region.

According to him, as a party that is hoping to govern the country, its action could be interpreted as not exhibiting enough goodwill to show that it cares about the people with regard to the challenging economic situation the nation finds itself.

“The nation comes first,” Mr. Kwame Pianim reminded the leadership of the NPP, when he spoke to Joy FM’s Evans Mensah on Top Story.

"If things get very, very bad, it affects all of us, so why do you say if you have a contribution to make, you are not going to make it," he quipped.

The bi-partisan National Economic Forum on-going in the Eastern Region is aimed at reaching consensus on policies, strategies and measures to accelerate Ghana's transition from a lower middle income nation to an upper-middle income economy.

The NPP took a position to officially boycott the Forum, citing late invitation and claims that government has adopted its own economic reforms between 2014 and 2017, including the retrenchment of public sector workers and has communicated same to the IMF.

President Mahama has since denied and explained the IMF's misconception.

There have been mixed reactions to the party’s decision not to partake in the Forum, even among leading members of the NPP.

But siding with persons who believe the party was wrong to abstain from the Forum, Mr. Kwame Pianim criticized the party’s position, saying, “I am saddened by the decision they have taken”.

He pointed out to the NPP that Ghana is not like war-torn Sudan where people are confined to the "forest, sharpening our knives to kill one another”.

So far, discussions at the meeting have been “very impressive,” he observed, emphasizing the submissions have been “very, very positive”.

“When the economy is going bad and the young people are on the streets and they are doing their violent [acts], it is not only NDC people who are going to be a victims,” he said to buttress his participation.

Participating in the forum would have been “good for the party… I think it was a bad mistake. We should not let the Ghanaian citizens believe that we don’t care about their welfare. They are complaining that the economy is not moving on the right direction, why are we refusing to participate if there is a very low probability that whatever we say here might influence government policy”.

Speaking to claims that he flouted the position of the party, advising members not to attend the national forum, Mr. Pianim pointed out that the directive was wrong, explaining that everybody should have the right to “benefit from the freedom of association and being one person different types and dimensions brought together”.

“I am a Catholic, but did not phone my pastor or the Cardinal to ask whether Catholics are coming before I come, and I am an Ashanti; I didn’t call Otumfuo to see whether the Ashantis are coming before I come,” he snubbed the party’s stand.

He, therefore, dared anybody to sack him from the party if he has offended the party's constitution.

Meanwhile, the party’s National Chairman, Paul Afoko, has emphatically denied directing party members not to participate in the National Forum, insisting the party “cannot issue gagging orders to our members”.

Reiterating the decision to decline the invitation, he said, the leadership of the party met Members of Parliament last Thursday and the collective decision was taken because as at the time, neither the party nor its representatives in parliament had received any letter inviting them to the Forum.

The party decided that we “cannot attend a forum on the basis of newspaper and radio adverts,” he stressed.

The invitation letter, he said however, came on Friday, 9 May 2014, but it was “too late to do anything meaningful” and contribute significantly to the forum.

The letter was actually signed on May 2, but left the Flag Staff house on May 7, Mr. Afoko submitted.

He, however, stated that the NPP is not against the National Economic Forum.

“The economy of Ghana is not a joke,” he intimidated, describing their reasons for the boycott as “solid and valid”.