Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta, according to Mr Abraham Amaliba of the opposition NDC, had to leave his wife at home in the middle of the night on Tuesday to go moving from one media house to another trying to do damage control in connection with President Nana Akufo-Addo’s “cluelessness” as far as when the country would be exiting the three-year International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme is concerned.
“… Does it come as a surprise to you that after he [the president] bundled the question on IMF, and said we were going to exit in April, his Finance Minister is running helter-skelter visiting media houses, left his wife yester-night and was going to media houses to present papers and to correct the situation. The question you want to ask is when these IMF people come to Ghana; do they have the opportunity to meet the president? Because the president does not know that the whole of this country, Ghana, is exiting … You know there are certain things that you say doesn’t fit you at all, this is a no no for the president not to know when Ghana will exit the IMF programme, it’s below the belt…” Mr Amaliba told Moro Awudu on Class91.3FM’s Executive Breakfast Show on Wednesday in a post-presser discussion.
Mr Ofori-Atta in a statement on Tuesday after the president’s encounter with the media clarified that government is not pulling out of the $918m deal as some media houses had misrepresented the president to have said.
At the press conference, the president said: “The IMF programme is not going to be extended,” adding: “We are committed to completing the programme. The last budget that is going to be held under the IMF will be the budget that is going to be laid before the House in November by the Finance Minister.”
Nana Akufo-Addo pointed out that the move to end the programme was important because “we will be on our own to be able to mobilise resources to confront our future”, adding: “The concept is a Ghana beyond aid.”
In a follow-up statement signed by Mr Ofori-Atta, the Finance Ministry said the president’s comments did not mean his government was pulling out of the programme ahead of its deadline.
“The government will like to reiterate and clarify the president’s statement at the first Meet The Press held on 18 July 2017 when he mentioned that Ghana wouldn’t enter a new deal with IMF beyond the current programme. In response to a question, the president stated that: ‘There is no question of the IMF programme being extended. It is coming to an end next year with the budget that we are going to prepare.’
“This statement has unfortunately been misrepresented by some section of the media. The government will like to clarify that Ghana will complete the IMF programme throughout the budget cycle of January 2018 through December 2018 as stated by the president. The 2018 budget will, therefore, be the last budget under the current IMF programme. After the completion of the programme at the end of the budget cycle in December 2018, government will not extend it.
“The president’s remark should, therefore, not be interpreted to mean that the government is pulling out of the IMF programme. On the contrary, government will continue with it and complete the IMF programme through the budget cycle of January 2018 through December 2018,” the statement said.
In Mr Amaliba’s view, the answer is proof that he is not abreast of his own policies. “He was found wanting, you noticed that there was a question asked as to how many jobs they’ve created knowing very well that this elections were fought on job creation, then the president says: ‘Oh six months, it’s not enough. Come back to me in 18 months.’ So it goes to show that: (1) he was not prepared, (2) he was not on top of his brief, or (3) he is simply not learning because this is the president meeting the press, this is not ministers meeting the press, and, so, if you have a president who passes questions and parries them to ministers … it simply shows you that this is a president who is […] clueless …”