President John Dramani Mahama appears to be singing a new tune regarding the time-lines his government’s self-inflicted economic crisis will abate.
After failing to fulfill most of his government’s campaign promises and promising not to give assurances anymore, the president is now saying that Ghanaians should wait for the end of 2015 before getting some respite from the harsh economic conditions.
It started in 2013 when the president said the vehicle of governance was in first gear and that 2014 was going to be an economic turnaround for the country.
On Monday, June 9, at a meeting with some Muslim chiefs at the Flagstaff House in Accra, President Mahama declared emphatically that 2014 was supposed to be a turnaround year for Ghana’s economy, which he acknowledged that it was hugely challenged.
“It is not Ghana alone. Those challenges affect almost all countries in the world. Even the developed countries are facing those challenges…All of them are going through austerity and are having to take measures to protect their economies. In Ghana we are doing the same thing,” he rationalised.
President Mahama went ahead to outline some of the causes of the difficulties the economy was going through, including fall in prices of major primary export commodities.
“Gold and cocoa are our major exports. Between 2012 and 2013, as a result of the drop in gold and cocoa prices on the international markets, Ghana lost export revenues to the tune of $1.3 billion. And that is what accounts for some of the difficulties we are going through,” he said.
“We are doing everything possible to ensure that [the problems are solved]. As I said, this year is a turnaround year and that the economy will come out of the recession the country is facing,” he had promised.
He repeated the same message during the end of the Ramadan fasting in Kumasi, assuring the Muslim community and Ghanaians in general that everything would be okay by the end of the year (2014) – which has now turned to 2015.
Even before the declaration, the president had said at his first anniversary that the vehicle of government was shifting to second from the first gear and called on Ghanaians to watch out for more.
All the promises have not materialised, with the latest revelation that bloated wage bill is to be blamed for the mess.
Speaking on Al-Jazeera News at the weekend, the president said Ghanaians had every reason to expect better times in 2015.
He said he was basing his prediction on programmes his government was undertaking as well as an International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme which is expected to take off next year, even though DAILY GUIDE is reliably informed that an outright fund programme might not be possible in 2015.
Besides, inflation has hit a five-year high with cost of credit currently hovering around 35%, while Ghana’s public debt has hit levels which could see the country back to the Highly Indebted Poor Country (HIPC), according to some economic experts.
“I believe that the worse is over; things should get better. Inflation is expected to start declining from early next year and by the end of next year we are going to be at a better place than we are this year,” he told the renowned network.
He insisted that there would not be any freeze on public sector wages as part of the IMF conditionalities for the bailout programme.
“Increase in the payroll has been one of the problems we are grappling with and it is a factor which has brought us where we are; but it is not about a freeze, it is about making the pay rise predictable over the three years.
“So we’re looking to negotiate what those increases would be so that it makes it predictable – how government’s expenditure is going to go but I think that is something we can deal with,” he said.
President of policy analysis think-tank IMANI-Ghana, Franklin Cudjoe, commended the president for openly admitting that Ghana was in economic crisis and called on Ghanaians to remember him in their prayers.
He said on his Facebook page after Mahama’s interview: “You’ve got to give it to President Mahama. The Aljazeera interview revealed to me a 360 degree presentation of the Mahama I knew when we were both guests discussing the need for a national vision on Super Morning Show before he became vice-president.”
Cudjoe underscored, “The level of detail and the backbone with which he delivers his answers is always executed perfectly. Often he leaves even the sophisticated little room to object when he evades a few crucial questions.
“In the Aljazeera interview, he was honest about the challenges facing the economy and even suggests he will be glad to pay the ultimate political price…
“When the interview was over, I asked myself, where did we go wrong? How did such a fine young gentleman, who looked every bit serious for a country such as Ghana, end up with so much confusion in deeds?”
“Whilst I still look forlornly at the results of President’s Mahama’s stewardship so far, I have but one thing to say, Let us remember Mahama in our prayers so he could leave a legacy that he himself would be proud of.”
By William Yaw Owusu