Ghana’s economy is not on a calamitous decline, Deputy Finance Minister Cassiel Ato Baah Forson has replied the Flagbearer of the main opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), Nana Akufo-Addo.
The Member of Parliament for the Ajumako Enyan Essiam Consistency in the Central Region said Saturday that: “I don’t think the country is in a calamitous decline, in the sense that before you make that statement, you have to compare the country to its neighbours, its peers and strike an average and look at what is happening in the global environment because we are not an island.”
“A country that in 2012 grew at 8.8 percent, that if you benchmark it to the sub-Saharan average that gives you 4.9 percent, I believe that is respectable.
“A country that in 2013, we grew at 7.2 percent and if you are to benchmark it to our sub-Saharan average you have 5.4 percent, I believe it’s something that we have to talk about,” Forson told Samson Lardy Anyenini on Joy FM’s newsfile programme.
His defence of the performance of the economy follows Akufo-Addo’s recent remark that the country was on a “calamitous decline”.
The former foreign affairs Minister in the Kufuor Government said at the second Aliu Mahama memorial lecture that: “When I checked this morning, I was told that we have some $1.5 billion in our net foreign reserves, just enough to cover two weeks of imports.
“And our debts are so big that we are using four times the money we expect from producing oil this year to service interest payments alone in 2014.”
“I also learnt that for 2015, the rate of growth of our economy is expected to be much smaller than it has been this year. The expected growth rate – 3.9% – would be the worst since the year 2000. This does not seem like the year of recovery the Government is telling us that 2015 will be and the new Budget is hardly the budget for transforming our economy,” Akufo-Addo asserted.
The situation now, he told the audience, “is worse than we were in a year ago; 2013 was worse than 2012; and 2012 was worse than 2011. Yet, this was the Ghana that was so successful in managing its non-oil economy that, in 2009, the US President, Barack Obama, was able to call Ghana the poster child for a great story of “Africa Rising”. Five years later, on August 5 this year, the Financial Times carried the headline: “Ghana tarnishes ‘Africa Rising’ story”, as we were forced to run back to the IMF for a bailout.”
“We had worked hard to wean ourselves off dependence on the IMF to enable us undertake the growth that would transform our nation. Now with oil, Ghana is on a downward slope. The sudden and calamitous decline has left many friends, many institutions, many investors, totally perplexed. How did it all go so spectacularly wrong?” he wondered, when: “In 2009, the NDC was handed the best economy inherited by any new government since the 1960s, with oil coming in and a debt-to-GDP ratio of just 29%.
Ato Forson, however, said a comparative analysis of Ghana’s economic circumstances with its peers will show that the country has not done as badly as the opposition Leader is claiming.