Home > Uncategorized > His Excellency, John Dramani Mahama and the crisis-ridden Ghanaian Economy – Charles Takyi-Boadu

His Excellency, John Dramani Mahama and the crisis-ridden Ghanaian Economy – Charles Takyi-Boadu


On December 15, 2013, Ghanaweb.com reported His Excellency John Mahama as saying that “Ghanaians have very short memory”. With some qualification, I agree with you, your Excellency. I crave your indulgence to modify the statement to read “some Ghanaians have very short memory”. On this we have a perfect agreement.

Indeed, “Some”, not “all” Ghanaians have very short memory. Your recent statement (February 7, 2022) on how to solve the multiples of problems facing the Ghanaian economy leads me to think that you are among the Ghanaians that have short memory. And given that you suffer from this debilitating disease called “short memory” your latest statement will be securely saved for the future, in the unlikely event that you become President again.

Your Excellency, you are right that the Ghanaian economy is troubled on many fronts. The debt level has risen astronomically; budget deficit is high; inflation is rising, and cost of living is soaring. As you put it, urgent interventions are needed. Your recommendation for a Senchi-style dialogue on the economy is hard to disagree with. I have always thought of governments of developing economies beset by structural problems, including ethnic divisions, to do all in their powers to seek and foster national consensus. It helps minimize unnecessary tensions and focus national attention on the critical issues.

But, Your Excellency, before we get to Senchi important issues in your statement deserve closer scrutiny. That examination should allow us to establish consensual frame and context before we get to another “Senchi Consensus”.

The 2022 troubled economy is vastly different from the economy you ran between 2009 to 2013 as Vice President and Head of Economic Management Team and 2013 to 2017 as Head of State.

The first issue I want to address is the economic growth dynamics. In 2013 when you became President, economic growth (7.1%) dropped to half of what it was in 2011 (14.4). From this point, the economy went into downward spiral, reaching a low of 3.4% in 2016 when you suffered the most crushing electoral defeat of the Fourth Republic. In 2015, when you finally crush landed the economy into the arms of the IMF, growth was only 2.2%, the lowest since 1984.

Your Excellency, you do not have to explain to us what was going on. You may lack accurate recollection of events – since you are among our compatriots who suffer from “very short memory”. Fortunately, some of us do remember that nothing catastrophic had happened. We do remember that between 2011 and 2015, your government had received more than US$2 billion from crude oil export. Eventually, the oil bonanza fetched your government US$3.4 billion between 2011 and 2016. And we do remember that the world had exited the financial crisis.

Your Excellency, despite receiving such hefty amounts from oil, you ushered us into the era of hiring freeze. Trained Teachers and nurses, having struggled through their training without the regular allowance implemented since the 1970s, also faced, for the first time, a blockade from the public service. Your time in office gave this country and the world the terminology DUMSOR, which Wikipedia, (the free encyclopedia) defines a persistent, irregular, and unpredictable electric power outage. The effect of Dumsor on businesses and households continues to linger. The ever-rising joblessness directly emanate from the combination of Dumsor and the freeze on public service employment.

Your Excellency, under your watch from the period 2013 to 2017, more than half a million Ghanaians became poor (GSS, 2018). This was the first time since 1992 that the absolute number increased in Ghana. This was the economy you left for Ghanaians.

Your Excellency, the idea of organizing a national dialogue on the economy in times of economic difficulties is appealing. But the specific mention of Senchi makes it harder for me to go along, especially when you want the current managers of the economy to take “a page from it”. As a citizen, the Senchi Forum was a complete waste of scarce national resources; and for the participant, I believe it was a waste of their time. Let me explain.

Your Excellency, those who participated in the dialogue did not know that it was a prelude to acceding to an IMF programme. Your government had always insisted that the great ideas shared at Senchi crystalised into the so-called Homegrown Fiscal Consolidation programme which you presented to the IMF for support. This is curious and almost certainly untrue. I have read the 22-point Senchi consensus many times. I have also read the IMF Extended Credi Facility document. Your Excellency, where in the Senchi Consensus was there an agreement for your government to freeze employment in the public sector; and where was there a consensus to reduce real wages?

Your Excellency, most certainly, the Senchi Consensus contained great ideas. However, your government failed to implement them. Point 15 of the Consensus read as follows:

15. An investment programme to deal with the energy crisis must be put in place as a matter of urgency in order to propel growth, employment, competitiveness, and macroeconomic stability.

A year later, Dumsor had intensified. The celebrities held the Dumsor demonstrations on May 17, 2015. Obviously, your government failed to follow the “investment programme to deal with the energy crisis”.

Like many other things under your watch as President, the Senchi Consensus was already moribund before desperation led you and your government into the cold arms of imperial IMF. In the first and only progress report on the Consensus presented to you, in December 2014, the Implementation Advisory Group (IAG) hosted by the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC) conceded that implementing the Senchi Consensus was encountering difficulties because of the inability of the Ministry of Finance (MoF) to provide cash, and due to the lack of data.

Your Excellency, point 14 of the Senchi Consensus asked your government for “amendment of the Bank of Ghana Act to set a ceiling on its lending to government that is based on government’s revenue collection in the previous year, rather than the current year as is currently that case. This should be separated from the ceiling on total net domestic borrowing by government”.

Even this simple amendment, which did not require funding, you could not do. Instead of limiting borrowings from the Bank of Ghana, your government in 2016 borrowed 65% more than you had said you will from the BOG. This is how you and your government trashed the Senchi Consensus; and this is the Consensus from which you want the current government to learn from. We hear you!

To err is to be John Mahama

Your Excellency, in your epistle you asked: “How come we do not have a much-needed post-COVID-19 Economic Recovery Plan that would lay down a firm blueprint for fiscal consolidation in the face of a worsening economic situation?

This question is important for a couple of reasons. First, it provides evidence of your very short memory or your hypocrisy or both. You and people of your ilk have deliberately failed to recognise the times in which this country and all other countries find themselves. This is 2022, two years after COVID-19 was declared a pandemic and less than a year the virus mutated into Omicron. Without underrating or ignoring the mistakes of the current government, I want to remind you, Your Excellency, that COVID-19 happened, it has not completely abated, and its ramifications continue to reverberate around the world. A chunk of current economic difficulties is COVID-19 induced!

The rising debt you referred to is true, but it has happened across the globe. If you google you will see that America’s debt has hit $30 trillion. Global public debt increased by nearly 30% in 2020. You mentioned rising inflation, which is also true. But remember that the current inflation is 12.6%, compared to 15.4% in 2016 when you were the president; and it was 17.7% when you threw in the towel and handed the country to the IMF. Also be reminded that globally inflation is on the rise. America’s inflation has hit 40 year high. You talked about E-levy, which you described as “neither adequate nor viable as a sustainable response to the crisis. This, we will certainly save for posterity.

Your Excellency, let me end with the following Italian words: “Chi poco pensa

molto erra” [He who thinks little, errs much]

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