General News of Tuesday, 1 August 2017
Former Finance Minister, Seth Terpker has called for a non-partisan discussion of some persisting challenges facing the economy following the presentation of government’s revised budget.
“I believe that we should be bold enough to talk about the problems and let Ghanaians know the problems,” the former Minister said on Joy FM Super Morning Show Tuesday.
His calls for a frank discussion is based on what he observed to be some consensus building among the new managers of the economy and the previous handlers
Assessing the mid-year budget review presented by Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta, the former Minister was glad there is some continuation of the former government’s debt management strategies.
Seth Terpker said although Ken Ofori-Atta called it re-profiling, it is the same as re-financing which was used when he was Finance Minister between 2013 and 2017.
He said a similar re-profiling strategy was used in 2013, 2014 and 2015 beginning with using $250m of a 2013 bond to refinance a domestic bond.
The National Democratic Congress (NDC) government had to use an entire $1bn bond exclusively to re-finance debts which he said, resulted in declining Treasury Bill rate.
Seth Terpker said he is also gratified that the NPP has not dismantled the sinking fund and plans to use it for the same purpose as the NDC used to re-finance debts.
The former Finance Minister also pointed out, the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) administration has embraced Ghana Integrated Financial Management Information System (GIFMIS) began by the NDC in September 2009, to monitor public financial management.
Under GIFMIS, the government is able to instill fiscal discipline in the management of public funds because it helps stop the practicing of giving out contracts that have not been budgeted for by the Finance Ministry.
The Minister provided “humble suggestions” to his successor to continue with GIFMIS by completing the database of contracts binding governments which have not been entered into the system.
He lamented Ministries have had too much freedom in entering into contractual agreements binding the state without express approval from the Finance Ministry.
The Minister, one of the few who was never reshuffled under the John Mahama administration, said he was happy that the NDC has brought some calm on the labour front by following through with the Single Spine Pay Structure which the NPP government designed.
He said for at least two years, negotiation of salaries has not been as financially destabilising for the government as it used to be.
Seth Terpker recalled the challenges his government faced in the election year when commodity prices were plummeting, affecting government revenue.
He pointed out, there was virtually no revenue inflows from Jubilee oil fields for the first half of 2016 which forced the government to revise its last budget.
He said problems within the structure of Ghana’s economy still “persist and it should be possible to talk about them”.
The former Minister revealed he got some flak from within the government, whenever he spoke about challenges the economy faced.
“I used to talk about these challenges and even within, it was said that I was painting a negative picture but I believe that we must be bold.”