President John Mahama
Credible information gathered by DAILY GUIDE indicates that the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) is not likely to attend the much-touted ‘National Economic Forum’ being put together by the government.
The four-day Forum, starting tomorrow, Tuesday May 13, according to a statement issued by government, is aimed at ‘achieving consensus on policies, strategies and measures that are required to accelerate Ghana’s transition from a lower middle income nation to an upper middle income economy with sustainable path of development that guarantees improvements in the quality of life for all Ghanaians.’
The statement, which was issued and signed by Deputy Information and Media Relations Minister Felix Kwakye Ofosu, said the four-day event, which is scheduled to take place at Akosombo, would be under the theme, ‘Changing the narrative: building a national consensus for economic and social transformation.’
But a source close to the NPP confided in DAILY GUIDE that they would not send a representation to the forum.
A decision is therefore expected to be announced to that effect at a press conference today at the NPP’s Asylum Down head office.
Stakeholders at the forum are expected to include former finance ministers, former Governors of the Bank of Ghana, eminent economists, key figures of political parties, parliamentarians, business people, economic policy makers, as well as representatives of traders’ associations, development and social partners, civil society organizations, members of academia and senior citizens.
The NPP’s purported stand, this paper learned, was based on the realization that the said forum would be used to push through a proposal submitted by the government to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) highlighting mass retrenchment of public sector workers – beginning next year.
Sources have hinted the DAILY GUIDE that the proposed gathering would ostensibly be used to rubber-stamp the deal with the IMF for a bailout and present it as a consensus document.
As at now the document government claimed to contain its economic blueprint, has not been given to the expected participants of the forum, confirming sceptics’ fear that the forum is going to be just a window-dressing exercise.
The NPP believes the current economic crisis was self-inflicted – occasioned by reckless over-spending during the 2012 elections, leading to huge budget deficit.
‘And until the government accepts that it has poorly managed the economy, we won’t have anything to do with the forum,’ a party guru told this paper yesterday.
The NPP believed that the government was obstinate and not ready to accept any ideas offered outside the National Democratic Congress (NDC), considering last week’s ‘Yen tie obiaa’ (we won’t listen to anyone) brouhaha.
The forum, the NPP suspected, was only going to be used as a platform for the NDC’s own propaganda in order to seek legitimacy for the ‘killer programmes’ as contained in the document submitted to the IMF.
Even though the NPP as a party was not likely to participate in the process, information had it that some key and influential members of the party, including former Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr. Kofi Konadu Apraku and economist Kwame Pianim might be in attendance.
However, Dr. Apraku hinted DAILY GUIDE last night through one of his aides, Ahmed Khalid, that he was not honouring the invitation. ‘He is not attending,’ Ahmed underscored.
Interestingly, the government in paragraph 1 of the policy document sent to the IMF, had indicated that it had already adopted a medium term framework of policies and structural reforms to transform the economy (2014-2017).
The retrenchment exercise is under the dictates of the IMF – an idea the NDC government has already gleefully agreed with the Bretton Woods Institution in exchange for the bailout.
The Trades Union Congress (TUC) has already kicked against any IMF bailout in any form, suspecting that it could only be a Trojan horse because of its strict conditionalities.
On the issue of ‘Rationalization of government employees’, paragraph 86 of the government’s medium term policy document lends credence to the fact that the retrenchment exercise was imminent.
‘Consistent with the Single Spine Pay Policy (SSPP) objective of enhancing productivity of the public service, Government will undertake an exercise to rationalize public sector staff to ensure right-sizing of the public sector. This exercise may involve an option for voluntary retirement. A current situation analysis will be undertaken in 2014, the results of which will inform the form the rationalization will take. The actual rationalization of staff is expected to begin 2015,’ the report pointed out.
By Charles Takyi-Boadu
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