To persuade Ghanaians about the robust health of the country’s economy, government communicators and ministers of state recently rose in a vigorous defense, dismissing insinuations by critics of the administration that the economy was broke.
They described negative suggestions about the economy as part of a sustained systematic campaign to distort the facts.
Meanwhile Government, the private sector and cross section of the Ghanaian public will today meet to analyse plans necessary to address defects in the economy at the first national economic forum which opens later today.
The four-day event is also expected to draw ideas for a “sustainable path that guarantees improvements in the quality of life for all Ghanaians”, according to a release issued last week.
However the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) is of the view that government’s much publicized forum is an implicit admission that the economy was in a mess.
At a press conference held yesterday, the National Chairman of the party Mr. Paul Afoko, described the forum as a “PR gimmick calculated to keep the people of Ghana in the dark about the real state of the economy” and asked party members not to attend the forum not only because “they didn’t receive their invitation letter in time but also because government has already made up its mind on how to run the economy; and no amount of discussions will change it”.
A former Minister of Finance, Mr. Yaw Osafo Marfo who disagreed with his party’s (NPP) decision to boycott the forum, stated that an invitation to leading members of the opposition to make presentations at the forum was a clear indication that government was in crises and needed need.
He recalled on Asempa FM yesterday the insults that were heaped on him when he warned government of the economic crises ahead of time, adding that the insults will not stop him from speaking his mind on national issues.
“I predicted this situation a year ago and was insulted”. He said At a press conference held last year, the former minister said “The economy is in tatters, and things are getting worse. Government is no longer in denial. There is now consensus that the economy is in bad shape. This is why it is lamentable that the president is sounding from the rooftop that wherever he has gone to, he is being commended for managing the economy well.”
He explained that Ghana’s economy under the John Mahama-led National Democratic Congress government is facing a myriad of problems including “the huge public debt; the lamentable fiscal deficit, the humongous arrears, unbridled overspending, worsening unemployment, deteriorating utility services, and failing social services.”
These problems, according to Mr Osafo Marfo, were largely as “a result of the reckless expenditures of the 2012 election year now catching up with all of us, for which the ordinary Ghanaian is now having to bear the brunt of the bad expenditure behaviour of the Mahama government during the 2012 elections”.
In spite of Mr. Osafo Marfo’s view about the forum and his grievances about the party’s stance, Mr. Afoko insisted “the party is committed to consensus building and partnership in national development but would not be part of a “deliberate propaganda and PR gimmick, to hoodwink the good people of Ghana in the face of monumental hardships we have been subjected to.”
He said as a credible opposition party the NPP shall continue to provide workable alternatives to the management of the economy. “Governance is a serious undertaking and it is expected of the President to attach the highest level of seriousness to it”. He added.
On the other hand government thinks NPP’s reason for boycotting the upcoming forum is flimsy and painful.
“…what is even more painful is the reason that they gave for boycotting it,” said a Deputy Information and Media Relations Minister, Felix Kwakye-Ofosu.
Mr. Kwakye-Ofosu recalled that during the Kufuor administration, a similar forum was organized and all stakeholders made the effort to attend “and so it is surprising that when other governments come to do the same thing, the NPP will be making these excuses.”