Saving Cedi: No More Dollars For Black Stars And National Teams?
There is a good chance of a revolt in the football fraternity in the coming days if the Bank of Ghana stands firm on its new directive that no government agency, department and institution should quote services or make transactions in foreign currencies.
This is one of measures the Bank of Ghana, together with the Finance Ministry, is instituting to help stabilise the Ghana cedi, which has been depreciating at an alarming rate over the last few months.
For sports in general, and football in particular, what it means is that all the national football teams will now have to be paid their winning bonuses and other incentives in cedis instead of the usual dollars.
That will be a marked departure from what the players and athletes have been used to for a very long time and it is sure to be met with some resistance from the players.
Over the years, a lot of people have advised the Ministry of Youth and Sports and the Ghana Football Association (GFA) to open a bank account from which they can pay national team players, but the reply has always been that the players prefer to be paid in cash after games, rather than through the banks.
It will be recalled that former Youth and Sports Minister, Mallam Isa, was found guilty of stealing $46,000 meant as imprest and payment of bonuses of members of the senior national football team, the Black Stars, during a World Cup qualifying match in Sudan on February 25, 2001. He was accordingly sentenced to four years imprisonment on each of the two counts, both sentences were to run concurrently. Additionally, he was fined GHc10 million or in default serve 12 months in prison.
This happened because it was the usual norm to carry huge sums of dollars to pay winning bonuses of footballers during qualifying games or tournaments
When Business Finder contacted the GFA on whether they are aware of the new Bank of Ghana directive, deputy general secretary in charge of communication of the association, Ibrahim Saani Daara said “it is not a matter we have considered yet, but we will see what we can do about it.”
A source at the Sports Ministry who prefers to remain anonymous told Business Finder that, “we are not in a position to say whether we will stop paying the players in dollars henceforth. What we can do is to wait for a directive from the Ministry of Finance on what to do. If they say we should stop, then we would have to find a way of paying these players.”
It is expected that the GFA and the Youth and Sports Ministry will argue that most of the players are based outside the shores of Ghana and thus need to be paid in dollars.
Whether that explanation will suffice is yet to be seen, but if it does not, then the GFA and the Youth and Sports Ministry surely do have a herculean task of convincing these players to accept cedi equivalent of whatever bonuses have been agreed upon.