Dr. Wampah On How He Wants To Be Remembered

The exiting Bank of Ghana (BoG) Governor, Dr Henry Kofi Wampah, has said he wants to be remembered for the major reforms he initiated at the central bank that have resulted in the stability of the financial sector.

Dr Wampah, who retires this week, said a lot of the reforms had started yielding fruits, partly resulting in the current economic stability.
He mentioned the Deposit Protection Scheme and the Specialised Deposit-Taking Institutions Bills that are meant to sanitise and bring significant reforms into the banking sector.

Speaking to the Daily Graphic, Dr Wampah said the two bills, when passed into law, would consolidate the bank’s mission of promoting confidence in the financial system, especially in relation to protecting the savings of depositors. 

They would also encourage financial inclusion and access to formal financial services.

“Those reforms have resulted in economic stability, thereby placing the economy on an even keel for development,” he said.

Some analysts have blamed Dr Wampah for his inability to curb inflation and stem the decline of the cedi, resulting in the introduction of some forex measures in 2014 which were later withdrawn after a barrage of criticisms.

 Dr Wampah’s term officially ends on August 5 but he has to take his accumulated leave, cutting short his four-year tenure.

He officially notified the board of the bank of his decision not to seek a second term in office yesterday and thanked the members for their support during his tenure, according to a source close to the Central Bank.

Informing President Mahama

President John Mahama has also been informed of Dr Wampah’s intention to leave by the end of this month. 

That decision, analysts say, is partly linked to the presidential and parliamentary elections planned for November this year.

"I have informed the President of my decision to seek early retirement and have agreed that I will exit at the end of March," he told the Daily Graphic.

"It is just fair to leave early in order to give enough room for my successor, whoever he might be, to settle down before we get to the elections," he said. 

The outgoing governor discounted claims of political pressure to oust him due to the ongoing microfinance crisis.

He said one of his two deputies, either Mr Millison Narh or Dr Abdul Nashiru Issahaku, was expected to serve as interim central bank governor until President Mahama chose a permanent successor.

Once considered a rising star in Africa, Ghana has been dogged by large budget deficits, ballooning public debt and inflation that consistently tops government targets.

President Mahama appointed Dr Wampah amid serious fiscal imbalances caused mainly by election spending in 2012 and a burdensome public sector wage bill that complicated the bank's task of managing money supply.

Dr Wampah responded with a string of monetary policy reforms, including tighter foreign exchange liquidity management to slow down inflation.

The bank held its benchmark interest rate at 26 per cent during its latest rate decision last week.

Cedi and IMF programme

As a member of the economic management team, Dr Wampah also helped to negotiate a $918-million programme with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) last year aimed at re-establishing macroeconomic stability.

While the cedi has, for the first time in several years, withstood the seasonal first quarter pressure to rally, it has lost half of its value against the dollar since Dr Wampah was sworn-in in January 2013.

Consumer price inflation, meanwhile, slowed in February but still stood at 18.5 per cent. Such crippling figures have earned Dr Wampah heavy criticism from some quarters.

But there are yet others who have praised him for holding the cedi stable, even when other currencies are plummeting.

Dr Wampah, who will be 62 years this year, joined the BoG in 1986 as Deputy Manager and rose through the ranks to become the Governor of the bank.

He was appointed acting Governor in August 2012 and confirmed following the nomination of the then Governor, Mr Kwesi Bekoe Amissah-Arthur, as the Vice-President.

He was confirmed in April 2013 to take retrospective effect from August 2012.

As Deputy Governor

Until his appointment in 2013, Dr Wampah was the Deputy Governor in charge of Research and Economic Policy, Banking Supervision, Financial Stability and Other Duties.

He obtained his Ph.D (Economics) from the McGill University in Montreal in Canada in 1986, with his areas of specialisation being Public Finance and Econometrics. 

He has to his credit a number of publications, including his dissertation: Agricultural Pricing Policies in Developing Countries: The Case of Cocoa Pricing in Ghana.

He obtained his MA (Economics) in 1983 also from the McGill University with his areas of specialisation being Public Finance and Econometrics.

Dr Wampah also holds a B.A. Hons (Economics and Statistics) from the University of Ghana, Legon, which he obtained in 1977.

He was appointed Governor of the BoG at the time when the government’s budget deficit was high and the exchange rate of the cedi to the dollar very worrying, but he has been able to turn the two situations around, stabilising the cedi and reducing the government’s budget deficit, in collaboration with the Ministry of Finance.

Dr Wampah thanked President Mahama for the honour done him by appointing him to the high office of Governor of the BoG and pledged his support to anybody who would be appointed as the next Governor.

President Mahama also thanked Dr Wampah for his 30 years’ dedicated service to Ghana and wished him well in his future endeavours.