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Bawumia's truths hurt; however NDC should eat humble pie

I have been amused and amazed about the reactions of various people especially my NDC colleagues to Bawumia’s speech on “Discipline in Economic Management: The Key to Sustainable Growth and Prosperity” which he delivered at the Alhaji Aliu Memorial Lecture in Accra on November 13, 2013.




What Bawumia said, notwithstanding the political flavour he gave it, is the truth. It hurts but we in the NDC must eat humble pie and accept the fact that we mismanaged the economy in our first term in office. 
I will tackle Bawumia’s prescriptions in a separate article. 
FACTS ABOUT THE ECONOMY IS NOT HIDDEN
The facts about the economy of Ghana is no secret. 
For those who are comfortable with figures all the economic data is publicly available, to be downloaded for free, on the websites of the Bank of Ghana (http://www.bog.gov.gh/), Ghana Statistical Service (http://statsghana.gov.gh/), and the Ministry of Finance (http://www.mofep.gov.gh/). 
I recommend in particular the Quarterly Statistical Bulletin published by the Bank of Ghana which gives you a comprehensive ‘bird’s eye’ view of economic trends. 
Our government is very broke. Arrears here, arrears there, arrears everywhere. Single Spine Salary alone is not to blame. 
The about 5.6 million people who voted for John Mahama in the December 2012 elections to become President of the Republic go to the same market as the 5.2 million others who voted for Nana Akuffo Addo. 
There are thousands of newly recruited nurses and teachers who have worked for more than a year without salary. Many of them voted for NDC. 
The 9 million or so active subscribers of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) includes millions of NDC sympathizers who are feeling the effects of our government’s failure to remit to the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) the NHIS levy, or 2.5% VAT, all persons resident in Ghana have paid as consumers of goods and services.
This money is the primary source of funding for the NHIA. Our government chose to prioritize other expenditures ahead of the health of its people. 
Today NHIS subscribers are not guaranteed service at health centres and pharmacies because of the NHIA’s inability to pay the claims of service providers promptly. 
Contractors sympathetic to the NDC are the worst hit by the inability of the Road Fund, GETFUND, District Assembles and government agencies to pay them for work done. Some of them are facing financial ruin. As is the case in Ghana’s political economy they got the most contracts in our first term. 
The bad road to your community or crumbling building in your community cannot be repaired because our government has not remitted from the Consolidated Fund all the money due to the District Assemblies Common Fund (DACF). The cash was blown elsewhere. 
Whether you are NDC or NPP you experience the same wahala travelling on the erosion washed road to your community. When the rains fall on the leaking roof of the community primary school all the children must run for cover whether their parents are NDC or NPP Polling Station executives. 
The high interest rates you currently pay at the bank is because of excessive borrowing by government. The interest rates are no different for NDC or NPP sympathizers. The value is the same for a business person looking for a medium term loan; salaried worker applying for a school fees loan; or rural farmer taking a six month production credit from a rural bank to finance the maize crop. 
WHO MAKES A GOOD FINANCE MINISTER? 
Seth Terkper, the current Finance Minister, is an accountant by training and tax professional by practice. Kwabena Duffuor, President’s Mills Finance Minister during the NDC first term, is an economist by training, and economist and banker by practice. 
President Kufuor’s Finance Minister in his second term, the late Baah Wiredu, was an accountant by training and practice. His Minister of State then, Osei Akoto, is an economist by training and practice. 
Yaw Osafo-Maafo, President Kufuor’s Finance Minister in his first term, is an engineer by training and banker by practice. 
President Rawlings’s first term Finance Minister, Kwesi Botchway who resigned in 1995, is a lawyer by training, and economist and lawyer by practice. Kwame Peprah took over in 1995 and continued in office until the NDC exited office in January 2001. I do not know his background. 
The most successful Finance Minister since 1992 when we entered constitutional rule has been Yaw Osafo-Maafo. 
As Bawumia said in his lecture, and supported by the hard data, there was no by heart spending and dissipation of taxpayer’s money under Osafo-Maafo’s watch in election year 2004. If you were old enough 10 years ago the economic transition from 2004 to 2005 was smooth. There was no talk of huge fiscal deficits, arrears and restoring macroeconomic stability in 2005. 
Notwithstanding the single digit inflation under his tenure, Kwabena Duffuor has been the worst performing of all the Finance Ministers since 1992. The unprecedented fiscal indiscipline in 2012 can be traced to his doorstep. This is because in any country’s public expenditure management system including that of Ghana a Finance Minister has the power to say No..No..No to by heart spending. He or she can tell anybody including the Big Boss, the President, ‘we cannot do this’. Of course he or she could get sacked as a result. 
Seth Terkper is barely one year old on the job. We will “interrogate” (to borrow Kweku Baako’s phrase) his performance on a continuous basis, and at the end of his tenure. 
The Finance Minister’s job is not about holding a Doctorate or Professorship in Economics. It is more about the discipline and strong will of the person in that hot seat to protect the nation’s purse against cheaters, looters and sharers who exist in droves in all our political parties be it NDC, NPP, PPP, CPP, PNC or GCPP. If you are a Finance Minister and you 'loose guard', they will 'chop' the people’s money well well. 
LET US DEMAND DISCIPLINED FISCAL MANAGEMENT FROM OUR GOVERNMENT 
Like any other Ghanaian resident, sympathizers and foot soldiers of the NDC, feel the effects of economic mismanagement and the dissipation of our taxes through waste and corruption by our own government.  
We, members of the NDC, should stop defending the indefensible and rather pile pressure on this (our) NDC government to be disciplined in the management of the taxes all of us (Ghanaians and foreigners working and living Ghana) pay including those on condoms, cutlasses and now additional 2.5% VAT. 
ADVICE TO GOVERNMENT AND NDC COMMUNICATORS 
To my NDC colleagues who have been “giving it” to Bawumia on radio, television and social media my advice is this: We are stuck in the mud on the economy. Let us stop digging deeper, own up to our failures, soak the backlash from whom ever, be born again and move on. Perhaps Ghanaians will forgive our sins in 2016

MyJoyOnline

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