General News Mon, 20 Jan 2003

What is the size of the Nation's debt?

This is a regime that has been shouting at the rooftops its adherence to the principles of accountability and transparency in the administration of the state. And yet it is clear to all that these principles do not apply as far as the financial administration of the country is concerned. On the assumption of office the Minister of Finance informed the whole nation that his Ministry could not trace a colossal amount of nine hundred million cedis (?900,000,000). Do not forget about the public outcry against the previous administration. The ears of Ghanaians were bombarded with phone-calls, all demanding the prosecution of the former Minister.

The Minister, an experienced banker could not even check from the Governor of the Bank of Ghana who later on informed the Minister that the money was used to purchase crude oil for the nation. Then came the famous forty-one trillion cedi debt, which was supposed to have been bequeathed to the administration. The Minister could not even in the name of honesty tell the nation that it was the total debt of the country since independence. The administration?s adherence to accountability and transparency did not allow it to give the nation the true state of affairs. What was worse, without checking from officials of the previous administration, even the President was able to inform the whole nation that the amount, which was earmarked for the rehabilitation of the Job 600, could not be traced.

This approach to criminalize everything of the past administration seemed to have known no bounds. The administration came to use the situation at TOR as the basis of not only increasing the prices of petrol and petroleum products forgetting that it was not ?Bad Government? but an ?Irresponsible Opposition? which made it difficult for the previous administration to adjust the prices accordingly to reflect market prices. Again the administration?s adherence to probity and accountability could not allow it to inform the nation the size of the debt at TOR. Indeed nobody is even sure about the true state of affairs at TOR. Government continues to change and juggle the figures of the debt portfolio. The administration continues to deceive Ghanaians in relation to the debt it inherited and what it has come to add.


And what was transparent in relation to the IFC $1 billion saga? It is in the light of the above that the paper thinks that it will be of national interest for the Minister of Finance to disclose to the nation the debt portfolio of the country. This is a must because the paper thinks that so many things are being swept under the carpet in relation to financial management of the economy. And by the way what is responsible for the nose-diving of the cedi which was acclaimed to have been stabilized under the administration? Indeed the paper thinks there is the need for the President to appoint an independent Commission of Inquiry to look into the operations of TOR.

In the meantime the nation needs to be told the size of the nation?s debt portfolio. The people want to know not only the size of the debt but its nature in relation to its structure.