Prez Mahama, SIT UP!!!

Since January 7, 2013 when President John Dramani Mahama was sworn in as the President of Ghana, Ghanaians have witnessed avoidable blunders and gaffes emanating from his government resulting in the current escalation of hardship which is staring Ghanaians in the face.

At the beginning of his presidency, the President and his team seemed to have taken keener interest in speaking and making excessive public relations gimmicks than actually executing the agenda of development and economic transformation this country dearly yearns for.

This led to the President personally leading the public relations exercise in his government over and above his information and media relations ministers and even hordes of government and party communicators.

In doing so, the President gave several dates for the cessation of the load shedding exercise popularly called Dumsor Dumsor that had gripped the nation at the beginning of his presidency. In the end, the government was embarrassed when the energy agencies were unable to meet the deadlines for the return of the normal supply of power for household and businesses, even though the energy situation has improved greatly today.

Again, the Mahama administration made Ghanaians to believe that the USD3bn Chinese Development Bank (CDB) loan was going to be disbursed immediately the agreement was signed with the government of Ghana.
However, since 2011 when the agreement was signed Ghanaians are yet to see full commitment from the Chinese on the disbursement of the entire USD3bn and its accompanying benefits.

Instead, the CDB had adopted a piecemeal approach, disbursing USD600m so far to the Atuabo gas infrastructure project but extracting about USD100m in commitment fees and other charges in return.
Thus, the image of the presidency and the government itself becomes engulfed in disrepute.

Another area of serious challenge facing the Mahama administration is the issue of the management of the national economy.

The lack of clear-cut direction of the economy since January 2013 and the indecisiveness in trimming the fiscal deficit of about 12 per cent of GDP in 2012 has plunged the economy in serious troubles, with Cedi, the local currency facing one of its worse depreciations since its inception in 1965.

It is true, all governments and all finance ministers have met the problems of yawning budget deficits since independence, but the decisiveness in managing them and gradually bringing them down to manageable levels is what is making the difference.

This was sufficiently demonstrated when the Mills’ administration of which the current president was vice, inherited what was then described by the 2009/2009 transitional spokesperson and now Foreign minister, Hannah Tetteh as “broke economy” with a gaping budget deficit of nearly 15 per cent of the then GDP and accumulated arrears and commitment of about 9 per cent putting the overall budget deficit and arrears to about 24 per cent of GDP.

The Mills-led NDC managed to turn things around in less than a year posting the longest ever sustained single digit inflation and strong performances of the currency, the Cedi.

Again, conflicting dates have been given for the completion of the Atuabo Gas infrastructure project which is already one year behind schedule, just as before it, the recently commissioned Bui Electric Dam project.

While the Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Gas Company, Dr Sipa Yankey consistently since last year gave a positive date of April this year for the completion of the project, the Energy Minister, Armah Buah only last week pushed the completion date to the last quarter of this year.

And there are several examples of missed/ confused timelines by this administration and The Al-Hajj wonders the kind of coordination, if any between the various agencies of state under the Mahama administration.

Further, the Mahama administration bizarrely seems to have ignored the contribution of the national security in steering the affairs of the government and the nation.

There is some haziness about the continuity in the work of the National Security Coordinator, Lt. Colonel Larry Gbevlo Lartey since the assumption of power of President Mahama.

The Al-Hajj is aware that the national security set up for example is starved of the needed resources to the extent that what to be used for purchases of stationery and fuel has been a problem since January 2013.

This puts the national security coordinator in a quandary as to whether his services are still needed. The same goes for the state spy agency, the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) and many others.

Again, President Mahama and his government gleefully used the much touted Single Spine Pay Policy as an elections tool to convince Ghanaian workers and the general electorate to vote for it in the December 2012 elections only to turn around and blame the policy for the widened fiscal deficits in 2012.

This shows some semblance of double standards and or, incompetence on the part of the government and its team of economic managers.

The question then to ask is couldn’t the Mahama-led government rightly forecast the impact of the policy on macro-economic management?

The basic underlining cause of the challenge posed to the continued implementation of the new pay policy is low or ineffective revenue mobilization rather than the policy itself, which is the truth?