There is little use in being up and doing, unless we know when to be up and what to be doing. The question Bernard Avle asked the President which was answered by Dr Bawumia continue to dominate media discussions and discussion at other public places and I am sure it will remain the most potent question asked a government official by a journalists until we see another display of courage and professionalism. I listened to the young man on his morning show and ironically, he played the devil’s advocate and defended government on the show when his colleagues presented possible questions they expected journalists to ask the President.
Personally, I have huge respect for the young man and people I share my thoughts about our media would attest to that. I admire and respect him because of his command over his job and ability to research deeply into issues he discusses on his show. He sounds irritating at times but that is a journalists for you. I know the young man sold himself globally yesterday and foresee him go higher soon. He ascertained from the President why his government has borrowed 40 billion ghc within a period of six months. The President deferred the question to his Vice whose answer could be abridged to mean we “we borrowing to settle our debt or reduce our debt stock”.
I get confused whenever I hear officials of the current administration talk about our debt without linking it to the investment it inherited. I don’t get it when we talk about loans contracted without looking at the possibility and potentiality of the investments paying back the loans and I see pure mischief when I hear them talk about the loans without linking them to the human development index. The NPP in opposition described the economy as one in serious crisis only for Mr Osafo Maafo to rubbish that assertion when he appeared at the vetting. The IMF itself in its recent report, stated that there is no particular threshold that consistently precedes sub par growth performance.The previous administration moved from borrowing from the private sector.
Government through the IMF arrangement, reduced considerably inefficiencies in government spending and granted some state agencies the autonomy to borrow on their own capacities and settle them as such all these were instituted to curb crowding out. The administration started amortizing loans it contracted and those it inherited. Technically, there is no direct link between levels of debt and rates of growth, ability to pay to repay plays significant role and we must also know why the government borrowed was it for repayment of existing loans for fiscal space, or borrowed to finance public investment? Was the regime’s monetary policy accommodating? High debt rate, but expansionary monetary policy would give the economy some oxygen and that was the pace the economy was moving till this administration took over.
Dr Bawumia’s answer to Bernard’s questions can best be described as weak and deceitful. Public investment has the potential to significantly increase economic growth. If the government fails to utilise fully the investment made from the loans by way of effective revenue collection system to increase revenue and use funds from the projects to pay for loans contracted, but instead, rely on more borrowing, the harmful effect would be that the debt will ultimately overweigh our economic from the investments are shall continue with the economic ebb and flow.
The government of President Mahama invested in projects which have the potential of repaying monies channeled into them. The Atuabo gas project alone will save the VRA over $500 million a year. VRA was spending over $3million per day using fuel to generate electricity. With the Atuabo processing plant, the VRA would spend $1.5million a day.
I think instead of government getting hoodwinked by deals presented to it by international fraudsters, it must make judicious use of opportunities presented to it by the investments made by the previous administration. Instead of leveraging our bauxite and other mineral resources, government must focus on the integrated aluminum industry idea and utilise fully the atuabo gas plant this will create jobs in the areas where the minerals are deposited, and help us generate enough revenue to repay our debts.
The current communication minister showered praises on her predecessor for the massive improvement in the ICT sector. This is another area the Mahama administration did marvelous job and the investment made if utilized fully,will repay funds channeled into them and support the economy. The sector is now a major drive of the country’s economic growth and has reflected an increase in the service sector’s share of Ghana’s GDP. The Eastern optic fibre network and LTE infrastructure providing substantial bandwidth for ubiquitous deployment and application of ICT services in governance, education, business etc. The President touched on the improvement in the sector (ICT) when he met the media yesterday and his government’s plans to add more to what they inherited. The business outsourcing centre is providing over 10,000 Jobs, the ultra modern Data centre, the ICT park, the enhanced community information centre etc these are projects government can raise substantial revenue from if the right measures are instituted.
The hospitals built across the country can also improve our revenue apart from the medical services. The railways and the the new buses and the massive improvement in our road network are all investments we can rely on in our revenue generation policies. Ghana used to export teachers, nurses and other professionals to other sister African countries and we had Ghanaians heading the judiciary of some African countries. The introduction of the students loan scheme would have increase intakes in our colleges nursing and teaching. Our excess professionals can be exported to other countries just like India is doing with is excess ICT experts. The expansion works and renovations at our ports and harbours is another strategic investment. The ports have become major sources of revenue generation. Instead of taking advantage of the expansion works to increase revenue, the new administration has introduced port taxes for populist reasons, the airlines are using improved facilities at our ports and are enjoying sharp tax cuts instead of adjusting taxes to commensurate the current state of our ports. The cocoa industry is another area funds were channeled into. The hybrid seeds, free fertilizer and increase in producer price as well as construction of cocoa roads is going to improve yield.
Mr Bawumia and his team must know we have long left the campaign arena, Ghanaians are monitoring their performance and assessing them based on what they saw during Mr Mahama’s tenure.
Source: Ohenenana Obonti Krow
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