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Ken Ofori Atta - Finance Minister. Ghana

Ghana still lives in the poverty threshold HIPC or no HIPC

The hullabaloo surrounding whether Ghana has been classified as HIPC or not is characterised more by partisan and emotional pronouncements than rational and fair reportage and comments. Political spinners are spinning. The strategists are relentlessly strategizing.

What more, the Government has given its own interpretation. Opposition parties have also given their interpretation. And the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has sent a rebuttal saying that the list on its website remains for all countries that have been on the Highly Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) programme since 1996 and is regularly updated.

I find it interesting how this issue has generated so much attention and public discourse. The HIPC status of our dear country, really? Instead of channelling our attention on governments’ public policy interventions.

In Ghana, everything that happens detrimental or not to the country’s welfare is refracted with partisan lenses except maybe the air we breathe. We should not always allow partisanship cloud common sense.

Must we be politicizing helter-skelter about the country’s debt position when the problems are staring directly in our faces? When are we going to put in place action-driven measures or lasting solutions to disentangle ourselves from the shackles of economic challenges?

I believe that whether we’ve been declared as HIPC by the IMF or we’re back to HIPC should transcend this minor and trivial party politicking. Whether we’re back to the same debt unsustainable position that we were at the time we were declared as a HIPC country by the IMF and World Bank, we should know that currently, Ghana’s debt sustainability ratio is nothing to celebrate.

My observation is that supporters of the two main political parties (NPP and NDC) are constantly seeking to score cheap political points at any given opportunity on any political platform. The result of this sycophancy is a country where the leaders become self-centred, cold-hearted, malevolent and develop a total disregard for their people.

I’m not sure if your fortunes have changed by any of these governments, mine certainly hasn’t and I don’t think the masses have either. I believe in the Ghana First Agenda and it is so pathetic that we those that are supposed to know better are playing this NDC/NPP game when we truly should be playing the Ghana game.

In all honesty, no one cares whether or not Ghana is on a HIPC list or about to be put on one. Let’s stop playing small, there are certainly bigger fish to fry; political corruption, carnage on our roads, unemployment, graduate illiteracy, religiosity without values, plastic waste and total disregard for our environment etc. Should we really spend time discussing who said what about a HIPC?

But unfortunately, we live in a society where governments use complex solutions to simple problems and vice versa. It’s no surprise that minor problems have now become incurable syndromes militating against our economic freedom and prosperity. In economics, we don’t eat patriotism and economic freedom entails economic competition/Marketocracy but should be private sector centred.

Although our economic parameters speak of positive signs of improvement in the form of the comparatively stable strength of the cedi, lower inflation rate, reduced interest rate etc., the private sector is even yet to take advantage of these for the accelerated economic growth that will reflect in the pockets of the average Ghanaian. Prices on the markets and the ease of doing business form another devil to deal with.

Hence, devoid of all-partisan inclinations and parochial interests, we as citizens of this country must play our individual and collective parts at this crucial moment of our nation’s development to pull the shackles of economic woes off our nation. Wasting precious time on whether we have gone HIPC or not, whether we are out of HIPC is not the issue now.

Ghana’s debt to GDP is 68% and project to hit 76.7% by December 2020, having spiked 44% from 2016 to 58.3% in 2017 to 59.1% in 2018, 62.8% in 2019, and currently 68% in July 2020. This means that at our current level of GDP, only 32% indeed belongs to Ghana, which will be used to feed over 30 million people.

You can divide 32% of our current GDP by 30 million population and see if Ghanaians are not the poorest people on earth. It’s not about the IMF coming to say or didn’t say it, neither it is about whether Mahama said what or not, for the future is too dark for Ghanaians. Yet, we are not told what we used the money for. We have some people coming here to spur trash in the name of politics.

Every patriotic Ghanaian should be concerned about the deteriorating debt situation in Ghana particularly when we can’t point to what we use the borrowed money for. We still live in the poverty threshold and we must get rid of it. This isn’t the time for some politicians and other social commentators to use our poverty to score political points. Ghana has been poor and we are still poor.

Source: Bright Philip Donkor


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