‘Gov’t Is Incompetent’

The New Patriotic Party (NPP) Member of Parliament for Wenchi, Professor George Gyan Baffour, who was a former Deputy Minister of Finance and Economic Planning in the Kufuor administration, has asked the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) to stop suffocating Ghanaians economically to death. This, the MP said, the NDC could do by parking out of government to allow the NPP, which has the ‘men,’ to quickly reverse the economic recession the country is mired in. He said, “President John Mahama and his appointees do not appreciate the enormity of the current economic crisis the country is going through and cannot therefore find any anti-dote to it.” The Wenchi MP, who is the ranking member on the Trade, Industry and Tourism Committee of Parliament, made the observation on the floor of the House yesterday when he was contributing to the debate on the mid-year review of the 2014 budget statement and economic policy of the government as well as supplementary estimates presented to Parliament by the Finance Minister, Seth Terkper, on Wednesday. “Mr. Speaker, how can you get the solution when you have little or no idea to appreciate the problem on hand?” Prof Gyan Baffour queried, stressing that the country’s economic problems are structural and not policy prescription or monetary, and that unless the problem was tackled from the structural point of view, the economic situation would continue to worsen. He said the NDC government had brought untold hardship to Ghanaians and still was insensitive to their woes and had piled more ‘troubles on the head of the troubled Ghanaian as is clearly manifested in the budget review presented by the Finance Minister.’ He pointed out that the fast depreciation of the local currency had been one major cause of the mounting economic crisis and said the solution partly lies in the oil sector where the government could revamp the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) so that crude oil could be refined here in Ghana at a cheaper cost instead of importing the refined product at a higher cost. “Mr. Speaker, a barrel of refined oil here would cost $100 while the imported oil costs $120; so supposing the country imports one million barrels of oil in a month, it will have to pay additional $20 million to these importers who may not be Ghanaians,” he said, adding that money in foreign currency could have been invested in the country to shore up the local currency. He noted that in addition to preserving foreign exchange, the refining of crude oil in the country would also create more employment for the local people and help boost the nation’s economic prospects. He said the government ought to tackle problems hindering growth in the manufacturing industry as well as the agricultural sector so that export could be boosted to help stabilise the cedi. The NDC MPs for North Tongu and Wa Central, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa and Abdul-Rashid Pelpuo respectively disagreed with the NPP MP saying that despite the temporary economic setbacks, the country has huge prospects to bounce back from the seeming crisis for a steady growth and transformation of the economy.