Paul Afoko and Seth Terkper
The opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) believes the National Economic Forum being put together by the National Democratic Congress (NDC) administration is nothing but a faÃ§ade to outwit Ghanaians.
At a press conference in Accra yesterday, General Secretary of the NPP, Kwabena Agyei Agyepong, could not fathom why government did not attach any sense of seriousness to the event.
With this, the NPP has resolved in principle that ‘the party will not be part of any incongruous arrangement.’
It has also advised all members to desist from making any appearance at the four-day forum in Akosombo.
According to the Deputy Information Minister, Felix Kwakye Ofosu, the budget for the programme is yet unknown.
Speaking earlier on Accra-based Peace FM, former Finance Minister under the erstwhile Kufuor-led NPP administration, Yaw Osafo Maafo, who has been assigned to chair one of the sessions at the forum, said he would attend the event.
Mr. Agyepong, however, explained that the decision of the NPP not to attend the event partly stemmed from the fact that the government did not only send late invitations, but also failed to attach a base document to the invitation to enable participants to have a clear understanding of what would be discussed at the forum.
The letter, which was dated May 2, 2014, and delivered on Friday, May 9, 2014, was said to have been signed by the Executive Secretary to the President, Dr. Raymond Atuguba.
The NPP General Secretary therefore described the entire organization as a joke, saying ‘Let’s be serious…governance is a serious (business); it’s about the welfare of the 27 million Ghanaians’ and that ‘we cannot take things for granted.’
According to him, the party received its invitation to the forum late Friday afternoon and therefore could not figure out how government, and for that matter, organizers of the event, expected the party to prepare.
‘At least we could learn from best experiences in other African countries like Nigeria, and I believe Kenya… they have shown a lot more preparations towards this event; sometimes the base documents are given to political parties two months ahead of time. As the Chairman said, we haven’t cited anything.’
Chairman of the party, Paul Awentimi Afoko, who addressed the media, wondered how government could invite stakeholders to such an important forum at such short notice, and expect any meaningful contribution at what is supposed to be a national discourse.
This, for him, was ‘a clear manifestation that the government is just being disingenuous and that the supposed national economic forum is really intended to be a PR gimmick calculated to keep the people of Ghana in the dark about the real state of the economy,’ insisting that ‘governance is a serious undertaking and it is expected of the President to attach the highest level of seriousness to it.’
The NPP said it was well aware of the fact that the Mahama-led NDC government had already adopted a set of reforms between 2014 and 2017, including the retrenchment of workers; and had communicated same in its policy document to the IMF entitled, ‘Economic And Financial Policies For The Medium Term,’ dated 14 April, 2014.
He therefore wondered the purpose of convening a national economic forum if government had already adopted a set of policies and submitted the document to the IMF.
Mr. Afoko could equally not fathom why government was comfortable in sharing details of its economic plans with the IMF while at the same time hiding same from Ghanaians.
Much as the party said it was not against a National Economic Forum to look for solutions to the myriad challenges facing the country’s economy, it noted that ‘in its present form, it (the forum) offers us no opportunity to significantly engage in the process; such an important forum should have been initiated collaboratively.’
Apart from that, the NPP Chairman was of the firm conviction that ‘the Mahama-led government is at it again with the usual deliberate policy of propaganda and PR gimmick, attempting to hoodwink the good people of Ghana in the face of monumental hardship we have all been subjected to.
‘We believe if government’s intent on their declared ‘home-grown’ initiatives is anything to measure the goal and objectives of the forum, then it is abundantly clear that the purpose of the forum is to create a platform to legitimize proposals that have been formed up between the NDC government and the World Bank/IMF,’ he emphasised.
As an opposition party, the NPP Chairman said, ‘We shall continue to provide workable alternatives to the management of our national economy.’
NPP believes that the Economic Forum would be used to push through a proposal submitted to IMF, highlighting mass retrenchment of public sector workers beginning next year, and use the bipartisan nature to rubber-stamp the deal with the IMF for a bailout and present it as a consensus document.
But Mr. Terpker told Citi FM yesterday, ‘We have already discussed with IMF what we want to do, so the people coming tomorrow are just coming to endorse what we have already agreed to do.’
By Charles Takyi-Boadu
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