Former Minister of Finance and Economic Planning in President John Agyekum Kufuor-led New Patriotic Party (NPP) administration, Yaw Osafo-Maafo, has finally declined the invitation extended to him by President John Mahama to partake in the ongoing National Economic Forum.
Mr. Osafo-Maafo was billed to moderate/chair one of the plenary sessions on financial markets and long-term economic growth today at the forum, which is supposed to find lasting solutions to the myriad challenges facing Ghana’s economy.
Even though his party declined the offer to participate in the exercise – accusing the organizers of sending the invitation late, and not wanting to be part of a process to rubber-stamp an IMF agreement with the National Democratic Congress (NDC) government, which among other things, seeks to retrench several Ghanaian public sector workers – Mr. Osafo-Maafo had said he would attend the event.
He had his invitation delivered to him on May 2, 2014, even though the invitation asking his party’s top notches to participate in the event was delivered to them just last Friday with no base document; leading to the party’s boycott of the forum.
He said he disagreed with the party’s position on the issue saying that it was a wrong move.
However, the former Finance Minister, who took Ghana to the Highly Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) status and subsequently placed the economy on a strong footing after inheriting inflation of 41 percent, is now in agreement with his party’s stance.
The General Secretary of the NPP, Kwabena Agyei Agyepong, declared on Monday – a day before the forum – the party’s position and asked all ‘patriots’ (party faithful) not to attend the meeting.
President John Mahama, who is the convenor of the programme, described the absence of the NPP as a “tragedy.”
In an interview with DAILY GUIDE yesterday, the man whose sterling performance as Finance Minister earned him the nickname ‘Oy3adeayee’ told the paper “I’m not going.”
Asked what compelled him to make the sudden u-turn, he said “because the party decided that all true NPP members should not participate; they touted it so strongly.
“I am not only a member of the National Council; I’m the Chairman of the Eastern Region Council of Elders and even the Chairman of the Economic Committee and that kind of thing. So if the party decides, I may not agree to that decision but I wouldn’t disobey the party. No!”
Asked whether he was worried about the fact that he could not partake in the forum as initially planned, Mr. Osafo-Maafo said he was not perturbed. “The party has taken a decision; I’m not a member of the Steering Committee. They took a decision and it’s binding in my view.”
He declined to comment on the forum itself because “it will be unprofessional” as he did not participate in it.
According to a reliable source, the event, which began on Tuesday and was supposed to last for four days, might end today, instead of tomorrow.
With his decision not to participate, the only NPP member left at the forum is ‘Senior Citizen Kwame Pianim’ who was on the high table during the opening ceremony.
Meanwhile, pressure group, Alliance for Accountable Governance (AFAG), has endorsed the NPP’s decision to boycott the programme.
In a statement issued in Accra yesterday it noted: “AFAG finds the decision as well thought over and respectful to the role of NPP’s minority representation in Parliament.”
They stressed the belief that “the only way the NPP can influence economic policy management in opposition is through its work in Parliament and not through economic forum.”
The group said “if the NPP’s contributions in a legally backed parliamentary forum are seen as meaningless to the NDC, how on earth can its contribution at a non-legally mandated forum be taken any seriously?”
AFAG believed the reasons for the forum were made clear, asking rhetorically, “Is it a case that the economy is broke or unmanageable by the NDC? Or is the case that government can now admit to the unimaginable high cost of living?”
AFAG recalled that over and over again, the NPP had drawn the attention of the NDC to economic decisions that might hurt the macroeconomic fortunes of the country and that “in all instances, they fell on deaf ears.”
“Indeed, AFAG doesn’t see why the NPP should get involved, especially where the majority has continuously disregarded its inputs at the level of policy making in Parliament,” the statement noted. The pressure group cautioned, “If the kitchen is too hot for President Mahama and the NDC, he has the option to step aside…”