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General News Wed, 27 Nov 2002

We Told You So - Minority

THE MINORITY Group in Parliament, the NDC, yesterday cheered and yelled, amidst shouting ?We told you so?, when the Minister of, Finance, Hon. Yaw Osafo Maafo appeared before the House to announce that government was no longer going to pursue the International Finance Consortium (IFC) $1 billion loan approved by Parliament on July 12, 2002.


Immediately the minister made the pronouncement that the government has stopped negotiating for the loan, the obviously elated NDC MPs cheered, kicked at their chairs and desks and yelled for over three minutes on end. The Speaker of Parliament, Rt. Hon. Peter Ala Adjetey, had to shout himself hoarse to keep order in the House.


However, the Majority (NPP MPs) contended that Hon Osafo Maafo?s action was worth commending since it showed a display of honesty and sincerity.


Hon Osafo Maafo, who appeared before the House to brief it on the status of the IFC loan, stated that the government had come to the conclusion that it would not be in the interest of the nation to pursue further discussions and negotiations in respect of that loan.


He indicated that no payment had been made in advance in anticipation of the loan, and that the sovereign guarantee has neither been issued to the consortium nor to any member of the consortium by the government.


The minister also stated that the honour of the country has not in anyway been compromised.

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He explained that although the loan is not forthcoming, it has a forceful implication for the country and that?s that the additional resources the government sought to find to assist with quick improvement of the country?s infrastructure, is no more available to the state under the terms of this particular loan.


Hon. Osafo Maafo stated that it has been the aim of the NPP administration to reduce poverty and to improve upon the infrastructure of the country, which is in poor state.


He stated that it was against this background that the IFC loan was contracted.


He continued that the loan agreement was subsequently put before Parliament on June 28, 2002, after cabinet had approved it.


He hid no fact that the Minister of Finance (that?s himself) and the Governor of the Bank of Ghana (BOG), Dr Paul Acquah, also appeared before the Financial Committee to assist make the necessary decision on the loan.


The minister argued that since this loan agreement was approved by Parliament, there had been a systematic campaign against it, under all kinds of pretexts involving statements, some of which are completely false, some completely ignorant of realities of international business, whilst others are deliberately vicious, while others were well meaning and constructive.

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He conceded that this sent a bad signal to Ghana?s development partners (IMF, World Bank) who subsequently expressed unease about the loan during discussions with government.


Hon Moses Asaga, Minority Spokesman on Finance, expressed happiness at the development, saying that at least, the country has been saved from three months of suspense regarding the loan.


He contended that when the Minority saw the loan, they detected at once that it was not feasible. Yet the Majority bulldozed their way through to contract it.


Hon. Asaga said he wondered why the Minister of Finance and the Governor of the Bank of Ghana could not detect this fraud.


He pointed out that had the Minister listened to the Minority, this would not have happened.


He said there are more credible financial institutions around, which if the minister deals with transparently, can get loans for development.

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Hon. Hawa Yakubu, NPP MP for Bawku Central, in a contribution, acknowledged that she has had a monumental celebration for the Finance Minister for what he has done, saying that it takes an honest man to do this.


She claimed that this culture of admission should be sustained.


According to her, if there had been such display of candour and honesty, the NPP government would not have been compelled to take the unfavourable decision of declaring the country HIPC, adding that the previous administration has to be blamed for what has happened.


She articulated that the loan did not come because of the suspicion around it.


Hon. E.D.K. Adjaho, Minority Chief Whip, contended that government did not do due diligence, hence this situation.


He called on the Finance Minister and the Governor of the Bank of Ghana to resign as a result of this failure, since it amounts to deceit.

The NDC MP for Biakoye, Hon. Dr. Kwabena Adjei, said the Majority was paying right for its plight in not paying attention to the Minority.


He mentioned that when the Minority had all the necessary information about the loan, they raised their concern on the floor of the House, but they were heckled, attacked and teased.


Dr. Adjei noted that they were only waiting for time and have now been vindicated. According to him, the pursuit of the loan by the minister and others had cost financial loss to the country.


He also stated that by its failure, the image of Parliament had suffered greatly and everything should be done to redeem the lost image.

Source: DG