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President Mills, HPIC is Knocking on the Door.

Sat, 30 Jul 2011 Source: Akoto, Akwasi A. Afrifa

President Mills recently sent one of his deputy ministers - Seth Terkper- to tell Ghanaians that "we can't stop borrowing", in order to justify his record setting debt In other words, all nations borrow and Ghana is no exception. While there is some truth in the above statement, it is the "why" and the "what for" that every citizen must look into. So I decided not to take Mills excuse at face value and look into some of the loans that his government has so far contracted. Due to time and space, I decided to look into this year's borrowing alone and to restrict my search to the World Bank IDA ( International Development Agency) loans; the most phantom of all loans.

Ladies and gentlemen, while reading, do not let the figures and the numbers distract you. But kindly pay particular attention to the "Project Description" and whether the country needs to take loans to persue such phantom projects. Below is President Mills handiwork so far this year:

On January 20, 2011, the World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors approved the following project:

"IDA Credit: US$215 million.

Project Description: This credit supports the authorities' efforts to consolidate ongoing fiscal stabilization efforts including the need for macroeconomic stabilization and greater executive efficiency, transparency and accountability to provide the adequate setting for the reduction of poverty and socio-economic inequalities through agricultural, private sector, infrastructure and human resource development."

Then on March 22, 2011, the World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors approved the following:

"IDA Credit: US$175 million.

Project Description: The project aims to strengthen the intergovernmental fiscal framework; enhance public financial management and accountability for improved infrastructure and services; and to develop citizens’ engagement with urban assemblies and their perceptions of urban management."

A week later, on March 29, 2011, the following project was approved by the World Bank's Board of Executive Directors:

"IDA Credit: US$70 million

Project Description: The objectives of the project are to stimulate improvements in productivity and expand employment in designated and priority economic sectors and in participating enterprises, through the production of more relevant skills and increased adoption of technologies in firms."

Barely two days afterwards,March 31, 2011, the World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors, again, approved the following:

"IDA Credit: US$50 million.

Project Description: The development objective of the project is to consolidate and strengthen land administration and management systems for efficient and transparent land service delivery."

On May 26, 2011, the World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors approved the following project:

"IDA Credit: US$57 million

Project Description: The objective of the program is to enhance the productivity and competitiveness of Ghanaian agriculture. Ghana's agricultural sector is on a growth path and opportunities exist for significant further development."*

Three weeks later, on June 14, 2011, the World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors yet again approved another project: "IDA Credit: US$20 Million Project Description: The project aims to facilitate private sector-led trade flows, investment and productive activities through the provision of insurance, coinsurance, reinsurance, financial instruments and related services."

Then just a week or so ago, July 14, 2011, the Board of Executive Directors at the World Bank approved the following project:

"IDA Credit: US$50.3 Million Project Description: The project objective is to support the sustainable management of Ghana’s fish and aquatic resources by: (i) strengthening the country’s capacity to sustainably govern and manage the fisheries; (ii) reducing illegal fishing; (iii) increasing the value and profitability generated by the fish resources and the proportion of that value captured by the country; and (iv) developing aquaculture."

........And the year is only half way through.

So, what do you think, fellow citizens? How does one quantify and verify the above loans, as far as the intended goals are concerned? At least the STX loan could have been verified with the naked eye by the counting of all the 200,000 houses. The Brazilian loans for the five planes would be verified by the landing of the planes on our soil etc. But do we really need Mills to break debt records for unverifiable and abstract projects? These are questions that all caring citizens should be asking the President.

So the next time President Mills sends a deputy to tell you why he keeps on borrowing at record pace, ask yourself "why and what for". Otherwise, it won't be long before the ugly head of HPIC reappears on the horizon.

Akwasi A. Afrifa Akoto

Columnist: Akoto, Akwasi A. Afrifa