Mahama’s Economic Forum IT’S ALL A BIG JOKE -NPP explains boycott


Photo ReportingMahama’s Economic Forum IT’S ALL A BIG JOKE -NPP explains boycott

15 May 2014

The New Patriotic Party has described as a ‘big joke’ the processes leading to the National Economic Forum being organized by the Mahama-led National Democratic Congress, starting from today, May 13, to May 17, 2014, at Akosombo in the Eastern Region. According to Government, the forum "forms part of a broad consultative process aimed at building consensus on key policy actions to harness the medium-term prospects of the economy for the collective benefit of Ghanaians."


But, the NPP sees this as a complete deception since available evidence shows that the Mahama-led government has already made up its mind on the key policies, such as large scale job cuts, as far is its medium term programmes presented to the International Monetary Fund are concerned.

The NPP also does not envisage any meaningful outcome from the forum whose participants were only served with invitation letters just last Friday, with no base document to guide them on the intended discussions.

“You give us invitations letters on Friday and you expect us to prepare and come for a national economic forum, even without any base document. In other countries, like Kenya and Nigeria, base documents are given about two to three months before such a forum is organized. Meanwhile, you have even already agreed with the IMF on what your medium-term programmes for 2014 to 2017 are. This is a big joke; governance is a serious business and Ghanaians cannot be taken for a ride,” Kwabena Agyei Agyepong, General Secretary of the NPP, stated in an answer to a question from a journalist at a press conference held by the party yesterday.

The press conference, which was addressed by Paul Afoko, National Chairman of the NPP, was to announce the party’s decision not to take part in the National Economic Forum.

“As we speak to you now, we are still unaware of the base document and the content thereof to be used at the forum. Article 55 (3) of our national constitution provides ‘a political party is free to participate in shaping the political will of the people, to disseminate information on political ideas, social and economic programs of a national character’. Pursuant to this, if a party is invited to a national economic forum properly so-called, the party must prepare itself adequately to make a meaningful impact,” Mr Afoko stated.

He added that information available to the party suggested that the NDC government had already adopted a set of reforms between 2014 and 2017 (including the retrenchment of workers) and had communicated same in its policy document to the IMF.

This document, he explained, contains what the government describes as “home grown policies” was formally submitted to the IMF during the recent Spring Meetings in Washington DC.

“The question is, if the government has already adopted a set of policies and has already submitted to the IMF what is the purpose of convening a national economic forum to deliberate on what to do?” Mr Afoko queried.

The NPP National Chairman said the party was in principle not against a National Economic Forum, adding, however, that “in its present form it offers us no opportunity to significantly engage in the process. We believe that such an important forum should have been initiated collaboratively.”

“However by organizing this economic forum, we believe the Mahama-led government is at it again with the usual deliberate policy of propaganda and PR gimmick, attempting to hoodwink the good people of Ghana in the face of monumental hardship we have all been subjected to. We believe government’s intent on their declared “Home-grown” initiatives is anything to measure the goal and objectives of the forum, then it is abundantly clear that the purpose of the forum is to create a platform to legitimize proposals that have been formed up between the NDC government and the World Bank/IMF. In this regard, and for the avoidance of doubt, the NPP solemnly declares that the party will not be part of any incongruous arrangement,” he declared.

Mr Afoko expressed the NPP’s displeasure at the ‘seemingly bad faith’, as well as lack of seriousness, the Mahama-led government had exhibited in the lead up to the National Economic Forum.

“Last Friday afternoon, the NPP received an invitation from the seat of government, to be part of a National Economic Forum that is scheduled to begin on 12th of May 2014. The letter signed by the executive secretary to the president was dated the 2nd of May, 2014. In spite of the short distance between the Flagstaff House and the NPP party headquarters, it took more than a week for the letter to be hand delivered. This shows a lack of seriousness on the part of the government towards this important national exercise,” he observed.

The NPP National Chairman wondered how the Mahama government could invite stakeholders to such an important forum at such short notice, and expect any meaningful contribution from the forum.

“This is a clear manifestation that the government is just being disingenuous and that the supposed national economic forum is really intended to be a PR gimmick calculated to keep the people of Ghana in the dark about the real state of the economy,” he added.

Mr Afoko drew attention to the fact that the NPP had at all times demonstrated its resolve and commitment towards consensus building and partnership in the nation’s development, adding that never had the party abandoned its responsibilities, both in government and out of government, while assuring that it would continue to do so in the larger interest and progress of the nation.

“It is, however, noteworthy to recall that on several occasions, the NPP minority in parliament, economic experts and other key figures in our party have consistently and relentlessly offered suggestions as to how to arrest our ailing economy. Unfortunately, the Mahama-led administration has treated these suggestions with contempt and spokespersons for the government have poured scorn on them. The evidence is there for all to see,” he stated.

Touching on the economic policies of the government, Mr Afoko said “Ghanaians are aware that parliament has recently approved a thirty million dollar ($30million) facility, which has a grant component of $10 million from the World Bank for capacity building of the Ghana statistical Service. That capacity building is to lead to the retrenchment of 300 staff of the statistical service. This forms part of the General agreement that government of Ghana has with the World Bank/IMF to, as they describe it euphemistically, “right size” the civil/public office staff strength. This resort is what the John Mahama-led NDC government is purposed to pursue beginning 2015.”

He also touched on the lack of sincerity on the party of the government in admitting what the true state of the economy is: “Again, not quite long, President John Mahama stated quite emphatically to all Ghanaians that, our economy was in good shape. Moreover his Minister for Finance, Mr. Seth Tekper, has further stated that the economy was far from being in crisis and that position has been canvassed aggressively by NDC party propagandists on various media platforms. One thing that is certain is that the government has been in a state of denial.”

Mr Afoko further accused the Mahama government of hiding vital information about the economy from the nation, as far as its dealings with the IMF are concerned. “The IMF has over the years routinely reported on the state of the economy after every Spring Meeting. It appears that for the first time in Ghana’s economic history the government has refused to grant consent for the publication of the 2014 article 4 consultations with the IMF. The question is if the government has nothing to hide then why has the report not been published? This feeds into the perception that the NDC government is behind the total blackout of the report from the public,” he stated.

The NPP National Chairman gave the assurance that his party would continue to provide workable alternatives to the management of the economy, and urged President Mahama and his government to attach the highest level of seriousness to their management of the nation.

By Kwabena Amankwah




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