‘Calls to remove Finance Minister from office wrong’

A pressure group, the People’s Forum, has said heeding the call by a section of the public for the dismissal of the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Mr Seth Terkper, as a result of the current economic challenges will be economically wrong.

According to the group, the reasons for the call on the President to dismiss Mr Terkper did not make economic and political sense.

Mr Clement Amole, a member of the group, addressing a press conference in Accra yesterday, said the ailing economy could not be blamed on an individual or a single institution because it was an accumulated effect over a period of time.

The press conference, he said, followed the observation that the call for Mr Terkper’s dismissal had become pervasive in the past couple of weeks.

He said given the very challenging economic situation confronting Ghana presently, it might be okay to accept all the agitation for change in strategy.

According to him, it was also a normal reaction, considering the challenging economic situation, for segments of society to lay blame squarely on the laps of an individual, simply because he was managing the national purse.

Besides, the dismissal of the minister would not suddenly put the economy back on track; nor would a newly appointed Finance Minister suddenly transform the economy, Mr Amole said.

“Can an individual Minister of Finance secure a spiralling economy without co-operation from all quarters?” he asked.

   Ailing economy
According to him, several economists had agreed that possibly it was time to reorganise the fundamentals of the economy at a bipartisan forum where the actual cause of the current economic challenges would be figured out and discussed.

He said it was time to move the economy from the elementary stage where natural resources such as cocoa, gold, cotton, etc. were exported in their raw form to a semi-secondary stage by adding value to those resources. 

Mr Amole also blamed the ailing economy on fluctuations on the world market in the prices of gold, cocoa, timber, etc. saying the Ghana cedi began its nosedive  against major foreign currencies as a result of the sudden decline in the prices of those commodities on the international market.

Weak institutional structures had also imparted on the fortunes of the economy, he said.

According to him, the porous monitoring system had also allowed individuals with selfish interest to take advantage of public resources.

He said no single Finance Minister could plug the cumulative effect of that badly leaking public purse in the absence of a collaborative non-partisan approach. 

While accepting that Mr Terkper, to some extent, had to be extremely creative to effectively salvage the economy, Mr Amole said the minister could not solely be blamed for the ailing economy.

  The Current Finance Minister 
He said Mr Terkper was instrumental in overseeing foreign exchange reforms recently when the cedi’s depreciation got out of hand.

According to him, the minister had shown boldness in endorsing tax widening measures aimed at boosting government’s income.

He explained that those measures were not exactly easy to accept and implement in the short term but the cumulative effect in the long term would be what visionary managers of the economy would want to gamble on.

He said not many Finance ministers had shown such penchant to okay tax measures that would draw consternation from people who naturally were averse to contributing their quota towards national development.

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