More pressure is mounting on President John Dramani Mahama to sack his Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Seth Terkper, over the continuous deterioration of the Ghanaian economy which has inflicted untold hardships on the people.
Aspiring Central Regional Chairman of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC), Bernard Allotey Jacobs who is leading the charge, said the Finance Minister, a certified Chartered Accountant by profession, has proven beyond every reasonable doubt that he is incapable of steering the affairs of the Ministry.
“Looking at the situation now, Seth Terkper cannot handle the Finance Ministry…I am telling you the gospel truth. He cannot help. The job is too big for him,” he noted.
The NDC guru has been using the whole week launching the campaign to get Seth Terkper out, using various media platforms.
Speaking on Accra-based Peace FM on Wednesday and Adom FM on Tuesday, Allotey, popularly called ‘educated fisherman,’ stressed that the Minister had done nothing to resuscitate the ailing economy, insisting that “if the NDC loses power, Seth Terkper will have to be blamed because he is not helping the government to pursue the Better Ghana Agenda.”
“Ghanaians are suffering and he (Terkper) must do something or the President must fire him,” he demanded, while describing the Finance Minister as a ‘Judas’ in the party whose policies, he claimed, would determine the chances of the NDC in the 2016 general elections.
Some NDC functionaries have maintained that Mr. Terkper has sidelined all economic gurus in the NDC, including Vice President Kwesi Bekoe Amissah-Arthur, from lending a helping hand to the efforts to resuscitate the ailing economy.
The pressure is not only coming from Allotey Jacobs, but other leading members of the NDC who believe that the government’s financial policies are hurting the party, as Ghanaians reel under gruelling economic challenges.
Last month, the Minister of Information and Media Relations, Mahama Ayariga, stated that the forthrightness of Mr. Tekper on the state of the economy was worrying, adding that the situation was making it difficult for communicators to defend government on matters of the economy.
Not too long ago, President Mahama himself came out publicly to admit to Ghanaians that pressure was mounting on him to sack the Finance Minister.
The President admitted that he had come under intense pressure from within his party and government to relieve the man of his appointment.
“I mean several times they’ve interceded with me to sack Seth Terkper because he’s hurting the politics,” were his words when the new Managing Director of Barclays Bank Ghana, Patience Akyianu, called on him at the Flagstaff House mid January this year.
He was however quick to jump to Terkper’s defence saying that “he doesn’t understand the politics” associated with governance.
President Mahama, however, explained that it was rather the reforms being engineered by Seth Terkper to tweak the economy and break the long cycle of ills within it that had got tongues wagging in the government, hence the pressure for his (Terkper’s) dismissal.
Yesterday at the May Day celebration, President Mahama admitted that indeed Ghanaians are facing serious economic challenges with no mitigation in sight.
“Another wage overrun, as we experienced last year, will make it difficult for us to meet our deficit target and bring the micro-economy back on track; it will fuel inflation and push interest rates higher; this will create an adverse environment for the growth of business and will lead to the creation of fewer jobs to absorb the growing numbers of our graduating youth.
“A further wage overrun will place increased pressure on our already overburdened currency and crowd precious resources needed for investment in health, education, agriculture, housing and government’s other important obligations to the citizens of our country,” he underscored.
Analysts believe the problem with the economy stemmed from the overspending in the 2012 election which got then caretaker President Mahama re-elected.
Mr. Mahama’s defence of the Finance Minister, who was a deputy minister under Dr. Kwabena Duffuor, stemmed from his belief that Terkper inherited the problem from his boss (Duffuor) who supervised the over GH¢8.7 billion overspending in 2012.
The President is said to have told a number of people, including the NDC founder, former President Jerry John Rawlings, that the mess was inherited from Dr. Duffuor and so Terkper should be spared.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has warned about a precarious situation ahead of the country in terms of its insecure economic situation.
The IMF team, which visited the country early this year and met President Mahama and his economic team, including the Finance Minister, civil society organizations and other stakeholders, warned of a possible shutdown of the Ghanaian economy if the country did not come for a bailout.
However, the IMF wants to see a comprehensive report about how to tame the growing budget deficit and huge debt profile which has exceeded the 60 percent mark of GDP, and still growing.
Currently, the three-month Treasury Bill rate is hovering around 24 percent from around 16 percent in the beginning of the year.
All statutory funds from the District Assembly Common Fund, Health Insurance Levy, GETFund, Stool Lands Fund, among others, are in arrears with no traces of how the money was spent.
Some salaries of certain categories of workers are in arrears. In addition to low revenue mobilization, the rapid depreciation of the Cedi is also creating a lot of anxiety.
Meanwhile, Member of Parliament for New Juaben South, Dr. Mark Asibey-Yeboah, has also sympathized with Mr. Terpker.
He believes the government and its agents want to make the Finance Minister a mere scapegoat to cover up the mess created by President John Mahama and his not-too-visible Vice President, Paa Kwesi Amissah-Arthur.
This, he said, was because President Mahama, who was then Vice President and Chairman of the Economic Management Team under the administration of the late President Atta Mills and Amissah-Arthur who was also the Governor of the Central Bank (Bank of Ghana), supervised the profligate spending during the 2012 electioneering campaign.
The New Patriotic Party MP, who was speaking on Asempa FM sometime last week, stressed the belief that the current economic situation is the rippling effect of the fiscal indiscipline of the Mahama-led administration in 2012.
He therefore did not want to believe that Terpker alone should be blamed for Ghana’s woes.
Instead, he said, “If people are saying Seth Terkper should be sacked, then the others like the Chairman of the Economic Management Team, Paa Kwesi Amissah-Arthur, should be changed, the Governor of the Bank of Ghana, Dr. Wampah and the President’s economic advisor, Dr. Nii Moi Thompson, should also be sacked.”
Even though President Mahama has the right to hire and fire, he was of the opinion that “without the right economic policies, regardless of whom he appoints, the economy will crumble.”
By Charles Takyi-Boadu