Where Are The President’s Advisers?

With the dust raised last week by the 50-page Central University College’s Bawunomics yet to settle down, Standard Chartered Bank International has waded in with its own analysis of Ghana’s short-term economic prospects.

StanChart’s research team, headed by Ms. Razia Khan, Head of Africa Research, believes investors have lost confidence in the Ghanaian economy as a result of “consistent negative fiscal surprises”.

The team’s recommendations include:

* An International Monetary Fund bailout;

* Spending cuts with public sector pay as major victim;

* Subjecting the Cedi to the vagaries of the market as Bank of Ghana’s stabilisation measures are not working;

* Removal of restrictions on foreign investors into short-dated debt instruments; etc.

The Razia Khan’s team stated that: “The rapid rise in yields on short-term debt, which now threatens Ghana’s debt sustainability, can be averted. Ghana should allow foreign investors to buy short-dated instruments and should not restrict foreign investors to long-dated maturities.”

The Chronicle wonders where President John Dramani Mahama’s economic advisers are. They were quick in shooting down Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia’s analysis as jaundiced and selective.

What do they have to say to Razia and her boys and girls? Are we on the brink of an IMF bail out? More pain on the current intolerable levels of hardship?

Which pays would be cut – those of ordinary workers who can hardly make ends meet or those of affluent, fat cat Article 71 employees?

But must spending cuts necessarily affect salaries. There is so much waste in the system that can easily be pruned – allocation for tea and entertainment, chop chop; estacode for foreign travels; local out of station allowances, internal committee sitting allowances, fat directors’ annual allowances in non-profit making and even loss-making state enterprises, etc.

What are the pros and cons of floating the Cedi in our peculiar environment; as well as allowing foreigners into our domestic debt market?

There is so much uncertainty in the economic outlook and yet we have a whole bunch of economic advisers and management team sitting on their fat … What are they doing to earning their mouth-watering salaries and perks?

In spite of the noise economists often make, their specialization is not an exact science, being one dependent on “all things being equal”, which never are.

So it is quite possible Ghana can survive her current short term crisis without recourse to an IMF bail out, or giving strangers a stranglehold on our domestic debts. All that may be required is a little more creativity.

On second thought, a government sponsored lecture on how government intends to weather Ghana’s short-term economic challenges and thereby give hope to the people would not be out of place.

It need not necessarily be a response to Dr. Bawumia, but to the StanChart’s dire prescriptions.