Opinion: Highlights of Akufo-Addo’s 2019 SONA – Part 3 by Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., PhD

Ghana’s President Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo-Addo/Photo: The Impact Group

For President Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, the salient hallmark of a progressive modern state and society is fiscal managerial efficiency and/or competence. In his third State of the Nation Address (SONA-3), Nana Akufo-Addo painfully lamented the fact that within the short temporal space of just 62 years or a little over two generations, since the country’s reassertion of its sovereignty from British colonial imperialism, Ghana has had to desperately resort to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) 17 times for fiscal management lectures/lessons and financial assistance, which pretty much contradicts the smug and sanguine declaration by President Kwame Nkrumah on the eve of Ghana’s independence, to wit, that “The African [and for that matter, the Ghanaian] was ready to demonstrate to the rest of the world,” in particular the White-Supremacist West, that “S/he was more than capable of managing his/her own affairs.” To this end, Nana Akufo-Addo, more than any other Ghanaian leader in recent memory, emphasized the imperative need for Ghanaians to take effective control of their own fiscal affairs.

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“We cannot make the progress that we desire, unless we are consistent and disciplined in the management of our economy. The yo-yo nature of the boom and bust has not helped us [to] achieve our goal of sustained prosperity and lift us out of poverty. We have gone through another painful round of impositions to get to where we are today with healthy fundamentals.” He further announced that Ghana was in the process of weaning itself from the excruciating straitjacket of IMF-World Bank conditionalities by April of this year. We , of course, also need to significantly add that most of the 17 times that Ghana had to beggarly resort to the IMF and the World Bank for both basic lessons on how to efficiently manage the country’s economy, as well as receive loans and financial assistance from these Bretton-Woods Institutions, occurred under the Rawlings-led government of the faux-socialist National Democratic Congress and, before the latter, the Provisional National Defense Council (PNDC).

Equally important to underscore is the fact that both the Provisional National Defense Council and the National Democratic Congress doggedly pursued faux-socialist agendas, because both of these extortionate political machines were far more “populist” in orientation than they were “progressive.” Needless to say, nearly every welfare-oriented quality-of-life-improvement policy initiative ever implemented in the country over the course of the past quarter-century was put in place by the John Agyekum-Kufuor-led government of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and, presently, the Akufo-Addo-led Administration of the New Patriotic Party. Nana Akufo-Addo also poignantly observed that bitter complaints of acute hardships and all under his two-year-old government, the fact of the matter is that when he assumed the democratic reins of governance in 2017, Ghana’s economic growth hovered at a dismal low of 3.4-percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). And this was under the four-and-half-year tenure of the John Dramani Mahama-led regime of the National Democratic Congress. By the close of 2017, or just under a year of his assumption of the country’s mantle of leadership, economic growth had more than doubled to 8.1-percent.

What the foregoing glaringly means is that Nana Akufo-Addo’s immediate predecessor, to wit, former President Mahama, had miserably flunked all the lessons taught him by the crackerjack economic mavens of the Bretton-Woods Establishment. Which, of course, ought to sober up those grossly misguided and fanatical party delegates who recently voted to have, according to the National Democratic Congress’ own Founding-Father, former President Jerry John Rawlings, who reportedly either failed or flatly refused to vote in the NDC’s most recent presidential-nomination primary, the most thoroughgoing corrupt Ghanaian leader in the postcolonial era, return to the Jubilee-Flagstaff House. The nation’s deficit or state of indebtedness, according to the President, has been cut down in half, from a relatively staggering 7.3-percent to just under 4-percent. The “Rebasing” of the statistical figures reflecting the purportedly real growth of a country’s economy is known to be a very controversial issue by critics who suspect a suave and underhanded “cooking of the books,” as it were, in order to fudge up a palatable economic development narrative that may not necessarily reflect the practical reality on the ground.

We must, however, also quickly point out the fact that it was the John Evans Atta-Mills-led government of the National Democratic Congress that first rebased the country’s economic growth in 2010, that is, shortly after the late President Mills assumed the democratic reins of governance from the Agyekum-Kufuor-led New Patriotic Party. On the whole, it is clearly as if a lot more could be done to significantly bring down the nation’s Debt-to-GDP rate from the 56.6-percentage points bequeathed the Akufo-Addo Administration by the Mahama regime, to the present level of 54.8-percent. In other words, it clearly looks as if Ghana has yet to fully recuperate from the economic funk or doldrums in which the country well appears to have been stuck for about a decade now.

The preceding grim economic picture notwithstanding, bearing in mind the massive collapse of mushroom taxpayer-scamming banks, nearly every single one of which was established with the criminal complicity of the Mahama government, and the deleterious effect of money laundering which besieged the beginning of the Akufo-Addo Administration, largely a scorch-earth strategy of the departing Mahama-Amissah-Arthur regime, the drop in inflation from 15.4-percent, at the end of 2016, to the present level of 9-percent, ought to give Ghanaians reasonable cause for celebration. But, of course, we are all well aware of the fact that the practical impact of “deflation” or inflationary reduction must first be palpably felt in a woman’s purse/passbook and a man’s wallet or trouser pocket.

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