By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
In an interview that he granted the host of the Citi Breakfast Show, Finance Minister Seth Terkper was widely reported to have noted that the bulk of the debts with which the Mahama government was saddled were contracted within the last three, or so, decades. The logical conclusion here, therefore, is that the present government cannot be justifiably faulted for grossly mismanaging the national economy.
The following is exactly what Mr. Terkper is quoted to have said: "Often the debt stock includes debts which were contracted by the NPP and in some cases goes even beyond that [i.e. NPP], because if you borrow from the World Bank for 40 years, and borrow from the African Development Bank for 25 years, and you borrow from other institutions which give you loans on a long term, which actaully as a developing country constitutes the largest share of our borrowing, and you give the impression that this could be attributed to the NDC era, then this is very unfortunate" (See "President's Confidence Will Make Me Do Better - Terkper" Citifmonline.com / Ghanaweb.com 1/16/14).
This is sheer chutzpah and sophistry on the part of the Finance Minister. In other words, what Mr. Terkper clearly seems to be implying in the foregoing quote attributed to him, is that the Kufuor-led government of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) may be more aptly to blame for the current economic mess facing the country. Even an elementary school pupil is well aware of the fact that during nearly 70-percent of the last 40 years of postcolonial Ghana's existence, it is the Rawlings-headed Provisional National Democratic Congress (P/NDC) that has held the reins of governance the longest. And during the same period, the Rawlings Gang, going by the tandem names of the Provisional National Defense Council (PNDC) and National Democratic Congress (NDC), has contracted more loans and, by extension, more debts for the country than any other government since 1957.
Fast foward to the year 2000, when the J. A. Kufuor-led New Patriotic Party assumed reins of governance, and one is immediately confronted with something called HIPC (Highly Indebted Poor Country). The latter was a foresighted debt-relief program entered into by President Kufuor at the instance of various international, largely Western, loan-granting institutions after whose successful conclusion - entailing fiscal managerial discipline - the country had most of its outstanding and progressively burdensome debts written off by its creditors. We must also point out the glaring fact that the Rawlings-led National Democratic Congress had the prime opportunity to go HIPC, in order to relieve Ghanaians of our humongous debt burden but smugly chose not to do so.
Instead, the major players of the NDC resorted to cynical name-calling while Mr. Kufuor and his associates soberly hunched down, rolled up their sleeves and assiduously tackled the mentally and emotionally contusing job of ridding the country of its hitherto unwieldy debt burden. Today, largely due to the self-destructive complacency of the movers and shakers of the New Patriotic Party, the Rawlings Gang is back in the seat of governance doing what they do best, rapidly and rapaciously emptying our national treasury and in the process making up whole cloths of mendacious yarns to make their entire criminal enterprise seem like a godsend.
I would not, in any way, brush off the all-too-palpable good intentions of Mr. Terkper to getting the country's economy back and up and running once again. But by the same token, it would be grossly misguided for Mr. Mahama's wallet-holder to cavalierly presume to facilely hoodwink the people with atrocious mendacities, with the hope of getting away with the same. Fat chance!
*Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
Department of English
Nassau Community College of SUNY
Garden City, New York
Jan. 28, 2014