As National Economic Forum Ends Tomorrow…

A four-day National Economic Forum, perceived to have been hastily organised by the Mahama administration, and consequently mired in controversy, ends tomorrow at the Royal Senchi Hotel, Akosombo.

The New Patriotic Party, the largest opposition party in Parliament, boycotted it for having received the invitation only the Friday before the scheduled Tuesday opening. It would appear though that that was a convenient excuse. With an eagle eye on the 2016 elections, just about 30 months away, the NPP obviously did not want to be tarred with any unpopular government action as retrenchment of workers, allegedly proposed to the International Monetary Fund as one of the ways to curb the runaway Cedi, during Article 4 consultations.

However, President Mahama, in his open address, said Ghana had not applied for an IMF bailout, even though she had completed Article 4 consultations, and that the purpose of the forum was to achieve a national consensus on the way forward, given the fact that our current middle income status bars us from concessionary loans, grants, and other privileges accorded under-developed economies. Going by the theme of the forum – Changing the narrative; Building a National Consensus for Economic and Social Transformation – there is the suggestion of a search for new ways of running the Ghana economy outside the timber, gold, cocoa, bauxite, and manganese cast iron box.

But, do Ghanaian politicians, across whatever artificial divide that exists between them, have the needed fire in their stomachs to effect radical changes to the structure of our economy? Can the May 2014 Akosombo NEF achieve any consensus on the absolute necessity to re-negotiate the concession to mining companies to retain 80 percent of the hard currency from their sales outside the country? Since hard currency shortage is the sole cause of the free-falling Cedi, should a concession for mining companies to keep their hard currency abroad, not the first to be taken back?

Can our politicians limit themselves to just five percent deficit funding from the Bank of Ghana per year? Would our politicians ever be men enough to make a justifiable pledge to put 50 percent of all investments in the country into agriculture every year? – Questions, questions, and more questions, but no answers. Many Ghanaians have been appalled at the alleged cost of the Akosombo NEF. But, whatever the cost, it would be worthwhile, even if only one of the three questions above is achieved as result of it. For it would have promoted the national interest, which no amount of money can exceed.

As far as The Chronicle is aware, the obstacles to Ghana’s progress were identified over 60 years ago. But, since the President of the First Republic was overthrown for seeking solutions to them, under the guise of some perceptional shortcomings, the politicians that succeeded him, both military and civilian, have lacked the mettle or balls to follow in his footsteps. And, until our politicians cultivate patriotism to the national interest and not to their personal pockets and those of cronies, the cyclical recurrence of our economic problems would continue ad infinitum, no matter which political divide is in power.

Is anyone listening? A word to the wise …!