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‘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
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