Minister of Information and Media Relations Mahama Ayariga says the frankness of the Finance Minister Seth Terkper on the state of the economy, gets him worried.
Ayariga said Mr Terpker’s policy of honesty was giving government communicators a headache over how to defend the Mahama Administration on an economy said to be mired in crisis.
The economy dominated discussions earlier this week following issues raised in a public lecture delivered on the falling cedi by the 2012 running mate of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia last Tuesday, at the Central University College, Miotso, near Tema.
Speaking on Newsfile, a current affairs programme aired on Multi TV and Joy FM Saturday, the Information Minister said Dr. Bawumia fed on submissions made a couple of months ago on the state of the economy by Seth Terkper which the opposition is now using as a weapon against the government.
This, Mr. Ayariga said, gives him too much discomfort.
“There is nothing that Bawumia is saying that the Finance Minister has not said,” he stated.
“I have consistently had problems with the Finance Minister on this issue. I must say it on this platform because, he has insisted on, ‘look if you want Ghanaians to help you solve problems, you would have to state it.”
“People are now using those statements purely for propaganda purposes and they are not helping in managing the situation,” he observed.
The Finance Minister has had his share of criticism with calls within the governing National Democratic Congress (NDC) for him to be sacked over his handling of the economy.
“You have to manage your statement because, if you don’t manage your statement very well, it may be the one that will trigger a certain behaviour and that is the problem I have now,” Mr Ayariga said.
Commenting on Mr Ayariga’s statement, Prof H. Kwasi Prempeh, who described the Information Minister as Propaganda Minister, said, “This man doesn’t get it. The Government can try to keep all the ‘secrets’ about the economy to itself, (but) it would be to no avail. The economy does not reside in the office of the Minister of Finance. The economy resides in the pockets of every citizen; in the marketplaces and malls and chop bars and restaurants and household kitchens and dining tables across the country; in the trotros and taxis and petrol stations; and everywhere else where one must exchange a cedi for a good or service.
“People feel and experience the state of the economy in their day-to-day lives. It is not ‘Terkper’s openness about the economy’ they should worry about. They should worry about the state of the economy itself and their obvious inability to get a handle on it, because, as for openness, the economy does not need a Minister’s key or permission to open itself up for all to feel and behold,” Prof Prempeh wrote.
President John Dramani Mahama last January revealed that he is under pressure from some members of his government to dismiss the Finance Minister.
Mr Ayariga also indicated on the programme that government was planning to hold a public lecture soon to challenge Dr Bawumia’s claim regarding the state of the economy.
He said the Economic Advisor to the President, Dr. Nii Moi Thompson, will lead the ‘Counter-Bawumia’ lecture.
The Information Minister said he was surprised by the media blitz given to Dr. Bawumia, who was recently appointed by the university as a visiting professor of Economics.
“I was very surprised by what the media did. They forced all of us, they moved all of us to Central University [College]…Nobody gave us an option to listen to other alternative issues,” Mr. Ayariga noted.
“I will organise a similar lecture at the same time for Dr. Nii Moi Thompson and I expect all of you, Joy FM and Adom Fm to follow him at that same prime time,” he demanded.