President John Mahama
Members of the Christian Council of Ghana have warned the Mahama administration against the signing of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union (EU).
According to the Christian Council, which issued a 13-point communiquÃ© on April 9, 2014 after their Annual General Meeting (AGM) held at the Rev. Peter Kwei Dagadu Memorial Methodist Church in Accra, the EPA, in its current form, is not in the best interest of the country.
‘The EPA, if signed, will drive the domestic sector out of business and undermine our development efforts…government must follow the Nigeria example and protect the interest of Ghanaians,’ said the communiquÃ© signed by the General Secretary of the Council, Rev. Dr. Kwabena Opuni-Frimpong.
For the clergymen in the Christian Council, their views are part of their ‘prophetic role as development partners.’
‘…It imposes a responsibility on us to continue to support nation-building efforts and hold government accountable for the well-being of every citizen of this country, while promoting national dialogue around the search for policies and strategies towards the economic growth, prosperity and peace of our people,’ they stated in the four-page communiquÃ©.
The EPAs are trade protocols suggested by the EU to promote reciprocal trade liberalization regime between EU countries and developing countries that have endorsed the protocol.
It will virtually cut out tariffs on imports and exports between the EU and these countries.
Opponents of the deal have persistently noted that the agreement would automatically hand over the economic control of 16 West African states that form ECOWAS to the European Union (EU), but the government is adamant.
The Mahama administration appears to be convinced that Ghana would benefit from an open EU market per the agreement.
The suggestions of the clergymen may ruffle the Mahama administration as it prepares to sign the EPAs.
According to Rashid Pelpuo, the Minister in charge of Public-Private Partnership, it would be costly for Ghana not to sign because the EPA is tied to ‘aid, technical assistance, political relationship and trade.’
Rashid Pelpuo said the EPA was almost a done deal and said in the absence of a viable alternative, Ghana’s economy stood little chance in boycotting the agreement.
‘So if your budget is not balancing and every time you depend on somebody to balance your budget and you now say you won’t sign, they will pull out aid because it is tied to it. If they are giving technical assistance to your ministries, departments, agencies and you now say you won’t sing, they will pull out of it,’ he recently stated on Accra-based radio station- Joy FM.
The EPA was high on the agenda when ECOWAS Heads of State gathered at the 44th ordinary session in Yamoussoukro in the Ivory Coast where President John Dramani Mahama was elected Chairman of the West African regional body.
In the run-up to the session, Foreign Minister Hannah Tetteh had said that the government would support any decision by the ECOWAS leadership on the EPA.
Some states, particularly Nigeria, raised concerns about technical matters in the agreement and that compelled the heads of state and government to shelve the signing of the deal.
By Raphael Ofori-Adeniran
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