General News Fri, 12 Jul 2002

IFC Loan: Need for Investigation - Chronicle

The hottest news in town, arguably, is the report that the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government has attempted to raise a loan of $1 million from an International Finance Consortium (IFC) for the socio-economic development of the nation.

As usual, appointees of the government and its party supporters say the deal, if eventually clinched, will enhance the government's avowed aim of alleviating poverty and laying firm foundations for accelerated development.

The opposition, notably the populous National Democratic Congress (NDC), have criticized the contract as a scam.

The Chronicle today calls for a dispassionate investigation of the proposed ?8 trillion loan in view of the serious issues involved.

What seems to give hope for such a democratic investigation is that both sides of Ghana's political divide - the NPP and the NDC - seem to agree on the need for loans to fund our development projects.

No one, in fact, is seriously saying that the government should not contract loans at all. What the NDC, whose case has been clearly stated by its general secretary, Dr. Josiah Aryeh, is saying is that the government is likely to be cheated in the deal.

Not only will the loan elude Ghana, but our heavily-indebted country is likely to pay some millions of dollars in commitment fees and the like to a company of dubious character, is the warning of the NDC.

Chronicle finds some of the odd things cited about the IFC interesting enough to warrant a careful investigation. One is the very fact that the company chose a name and address so close to the Well known world financing organisation - the International Finance Corporation.

Every adult Ghanaian is at least a living witness to the Pyram and R5 scams that robbed many poor Ghanaians in their savings, while a few informed ones can recall how the Acheampong government threw good money after bad money.

Some government officials have feigned surprise that the NDC is taking the debate of the issue into the public domain, even though Parliament is yet to approve or throw out Cabinet's proposal to raise the loan.

Our view of the matter is that it is democratically right to discuss such an important issue, not only in the august House, but in all facets of our society. We further urge Parliament to, for once, discuss the loan, calling for documents, evidence, and all relevant pieces of information before taking a decision that will serve the national interest.

It is not at all out of place of such respected bodies as the Institute of Economic Affairs and the Centre for Policy Analysis to digest the issue and air their views and influence the final decision.

Since every opposition party is considered a government-in-waiting, the Chronicle also urges the opposition of today, notably the NDC, to learn of the shortfalls in the government's administration; its degree of tolerance and reponsiveness to criticism so as to govern satisfactorily if given the mandate some day.

Ghana seems to be experiencing crops of politicians who are only responsive and patriotic when they are in opposition.

All told, the Chronicle will urge the NPP government to take stock of its mistakes and institute effective measures to avoid, as much as possible more in the future.


Source: Chronicle
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