Rejoinder: Assessment of Ghana`s Economy by DFID-UK

Sat, 13 Nov 2004 Source: Doe, James W.

"Assessment of Ghana`s Economy by DFID-UK," is Analysed The Economic Update

Interesting choice of words by the economic adviser. It is high time we call a spade a spade. We have an interesting summary on our hands. Unfortunately, there is no news or press releases on the DFID-UK website or home page about this assessment. I am glad that the GoG is also referred to most of the time and the BoG once. Clearly, the information reflect government sources. Rather than "Sir" Paul Walters` (Economic Advisor to DFID-UK in Ghana), if you are in Accra thank you for your cooperation by doing the assessment for the country.

1. In the first point of the summary the economy remaining buoyant (afloat) did not necessarily mean everything was well. Non-swimmers sometimes can keep afloat by some external means (assistance or support); "like a lifebelt, lifeboat, lifebuoy or lifejacket," in order not to sink. So which-is-which in the case of Ghana? Remember or note that, the wait-and-see posture adopted by donors towards petroleum de-regulation due will be the main stake in the country`s economic downturn or growth. Irrespective of which government is in power and we must learn to accept this upfront. This issue has been with us from time immemorial and needs more proactive involvement of the stakeholders, consumers, the citizenry.

2. It is not clear when is the forecast up to. It will be fair to assume up to December 31, 2004. In terms of measuring GDP always up to a year. An obvious fact which should not be mentioned at all. The IMF does not do such forecasts, it is interested in the results. It is only national governments (or Banks) that need to forecast what policies they put in place. The IMF judges on what is proposed to be done. I am afraid. The concerns raised in one entirely defeats the intent for paragraphs (points) 2 and 3. The IMF releases the World Economic Outlook (WEO) in twice a year, in May and October and are published in June and December.

3. It was not clear what this point meant. Besides, it could not be an achievement as it shows clearly that forecasts are not necessarily nonfiction. As such should not be reported as a fact, especially if it is reasonably open-ended as stated in paragraph (point) 2. Referring to "the 5.2 to 5.4 percent growth in GDP," seems unreliable an unavailable." Its 5.2 percent alright, for 2004 but will declines to 5.0 percent for 2005.

On "Ghana and the IMF" page updated on October 2004 states clearly the typical decline scenerio on: as will be rightly expected for the economic projection."

One wonders where Paul Walters of the DFID-UK is quoting the IMF from, which could not be different from the above. Unless the said data was from government sources and not the IMF.

4. The use of terminology robust in paragraphs 1 & 4 is inert and unwarranted. The point #4 is the same as point #2 hence, it seems the writer was playing with words he could have just included gold in the point #2. Which would have saved him precious time and made the same case.

Is there really a lower demand for oil in this last quarter or there is shortage or what? In the midst of campaigning, Eid ul Fitr, Eid Mubarak and Christmas on the way! Have Ghanaians ceased to be Ghanaians? Analysts should know the culture of a people before they venture to talk on their behalf.

5. We can only "rob Peter to pay Paul."The high taxes at the ports is stifling private business. Ironically, CEPS deserves to be congratulated for the hard work . In the same vein, countries like Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger are using our Port at Tema and are not behind on their commitments. The effect will reflect in the price of goods for manufacturing and on the market. Especially, the private sector, also processing firms in the Ghana Free Zones Board area which was established in 1995 as a tariff free area. This should not be seen in isolation.?@Another, "buoyancy" was noticeable as in point #1. We know the economy is too sentitive to exogenous factors that we should happy to stay afloat. This is how we should read into it, and not to say we are fine

6. Exceed, but just 1% of GDP. OK.

7. In effect we are saying domestic debt is only 0.7% GDP. Fair enough the calculations could be done.

8. Salary ceiling should remain 8.4% GDP. Otherwise we should expect over-expenditure and increase of domestic spending. Of how much?

9. Changes in salaries will surely be upwards not downwards. Who gains and who loses? Is it just to widen the gap between the rich and poor or just to create regional disparities for similar jobs.

10. Obviously problems right from the Budget, "there are problems with the 2004 accounts that will need to be rectified." The conditional nature of the summary at this point leaves alot to be desired and underscores the impression of soundness I believe.

11. The summary should be a piece of factual information and not for education so this point is irrelevant and it is not the duty of the country adviser to include. As it were the Advisor, the donors (IMF) and the government know what they are doing with petroleum. Education should be out there in the public domain with the real stakeholders, the citizens who are invariably the consumers, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), private business and so on. A deliberate effort to educate the public is important, not when an opposition questions the credibility before it the government tend to explain in bits and pieces. Too bad, too poor an approach because it only shows unpreparedness..

12. The impression given here "if: Kaiser is responsible for the liabilities," it thus expose the question of transparency will come into play. So, if the Country Adviser for DFID ( not for GoG I am aware) does not have this vital information but we are told the purchase has already been done. What prevents the Mr. Paul Walters to inquire from the government (GoG)? Could this be a secret? Then Why? He needs to do a better job, he could have just taken the phone and asked. This conjecture does not help the reading public at all.

It is not clear who the target audience was. But all the same in such an analysis you (Paul Walters) will do people a lot of good if you are more straight to the point instead of meandering. "Small is Beautiful: Economics As If People Mattered,"was the title of Ernst Friedrich Schumacher`s book is relevant here. Whereas I will say, "simple is easy to understand." In this part of the world, many of us hardly follow the jargons used by experts. So it was better to separate the summary neatly into positives and negatives, hope and concerns as it were would have made for easy reading. Instead of the jumbled manner it was presented.

Finally, "beware of tautology!"

James W. Doe Ph.D.
Independent Economic Policy Analyst

Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.

Columnist: Doe, James W.