Celebrating Akufo-Addo’s 2 Years in Office: Strong Economic Indicators Mean Nothing to Ghanaians

Ghana’s new president Nana Akufo-Addo lifts up a staff of office during the swearing-in ceremony at Independence Square in Accra, Ghana.  (Reuters/Luc Gnago)

Accra, Ghana, January 7, 2019//-Economic indicators under the watch of Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo are phenomenally good but they mean nothing to Ghanaians who voted massively for him in the 2016 election.

So, he was sworn into office on 7th January 2017 to steer the affairs of the West African country for four years, subject to another four-year renewal by the people of Ghana.

Today is exactly his two years in office after riding high on hopes for economic change and social progress. The euphoria is over as his plans are beginning to hit snags fuelled by creaky bureaucracy, partisan point-scoring and sums that do not add up.

The Akufo-Addo’s government was courting a major crisis of expectations from the start when it launched the poorly implemented free Senior High School (SHS) without a single policy document, a so-called reformed National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), $1million for each of the 275 constituencies, and a new factory in each of the over 216 Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) in the country.

Additionally, Mr Akufo-Addo who screamed in opposition that, “We have the men” to turn Ghana’s economy around had inherited a slow-growing and debt-ridden economy from the government of John Dramani Mahama. But Mr Akufo-Addo rather in office for two years has ballooned the country’s debt stock.

From the start, cacophonous voices within the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) were cashing in on their huge parliamentary majority as a good riddance to push their own interests.

Businesses had called for lower taxes to end the era of so-called nuisance taxes, while the public sector labour unions wanted job securities in the country’s civil service and the dysfunctional state-owned enterprises (SOEs).

Still with a remarkable turnaround- Ghana’s economy grew by 8.5% in 2017 as against 6.3% in 2018, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). This growth is higher than the 3.5% growth of the previous government, but the Akufo-Addo’s government is far from delivering on its massive transformation its promised the people of Ghana.

While technocrats are working hard to get the reforms flowing, unexpected bigger issues dominate the lenses of party politicians across the NPP and the National Democratic Congress (NDC), and other smaller parties.

Some of these issues are: Are Ghanaians better off than they were in the previous Mahama regime? Why strong economic growth is not producing jobs for the teeming unemployed youth? Why the large infrastructure deficit?

With just a year away to the 2020 election, these issues are on the lips of politicians, civil society actors, economists, development experts, among others.

The governing NPP’s manifesto proffered spectacular visions of transformation in everything under the sun from fuel prices to corruption.

The NPP in opposition said its flagbearer (now in power) could turn the slow growing economy around to provide jobs, embark on industrialization and implement its free SHS.

Criticism from within

However, NPP supporters are now among the worst critics of the government. “Things are really tough than before”, a female entrepreneur of the NPP who runs a start-up in one of the Accra business districts, said bluntly.

“One of my suppliers has confirmed to me what many people have been saying-that is there is no money in the system”, she stated.

She continued: “Right now, there is a general problem with cash payments from my customers who owe me including those who have been my customers for years”.

One of the key financiers of the NPP and Member of Parliament (MP) for Assin Central Constituency, Kennedy Ohene Agyapong who has been criticizing the government since its inauguration on 7th January 2017, is yet to stop throwing the salvos at the President and his vice Dr Mahamudu Bawumia and the ministers.

He has on several occasions threatened to walk out of the party if the current hardship economic conditions and marginalization of businesses especially his numerous businesses do not stop.

There is a deliberate scheme to starve my businesses of government funds, he flared up on an Accra-based radio station some weeks ago.

Mr Agyapong went on to accuse some party and government officials of killing his business especially the Kencity Media which runs Net2 TV and radio stations in the country.

He said the party officials had sidelined his media houses and do not run advertisements on the radio and television stations.

Poor economic condition

The outspoken MP recently bemoaned the poor economic conditions in the country in recent times, saying Ghanaians would be celebrating a ‘dry Christmas’ because the economy was very hard under Akufo-Addo.

Mr Agyapong said he had promised to surprise his constituents but indicated that he might not be able to fulfill it because he had no money.

“What kind of dry Christmas is this? I have promised my constituents but I won’t go there this Christmas because I don’t have money”, Mr Agyapong said some few days to last Christmas.

The parliamentarian added that the economy had become messy under Akufo-Addo due to the high import duties at the ports.

Similarly, in December 2018, former President, John Dramani Mahama also expressed pessimism about this year’s Christmas taking into consideration what he described as the “excruciating economic difficulties”

Speaking at the Trade Fair Centre after submitting his nomination forms for the NDC flagbearer race, he said: Most Ghanaian families would go through the driest Christmas they have ever experienced in the history of Ghana.”

During the Christmas festive season, traders at the Accra Central Business District and other parts of Ghana poured their venom on the President Akufo-Addo-led government for doing nothing to increase sales of their products.

According to them, the hardship economic conditions coupled with hikes in petroleum prices and their concomitant effects on lorry fares had affected their businesses, while some of them are planning to close down their shops and sit at home.

A cross-section of traders who spoke to African Eye Report indicated that since the assumption of office of the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) government, sales at the Accra Central Business District and other market centres across the country are not being anything to write home about.

Furthermore, importers and exporters are complaining of high rates at the country’s Tema and Sekondi-Takoradi ports following aggressive government’s customs reforms.

Members of the Ghana Union of Traders’ Association (GUTA) and the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI) have been complaining to get the attention of the government to address the issues but it has fallen on deaf ears.

Banking sector crisis

On January 4, 2019-The Bank of Ghana (BoG) completed its aggressive 20-month of banking sector reforms that have led to the pruning of the country’s banks from 36 to 23. These banks have all met the new minimum paid-up capital of GHC400 million, from GHC120 million.

 Addressing journalists in Accra, the Governor of BoG, Dr Ernest Addison said: “16 banks have met the new minimum paid-up capital requirement of GH¢400 million mainly through capitalisation of income surplus and a fresh capital injection.

Governor of Bank of Ghana, Dr. Ernest Addison

The BoG has approved three applications for mergers. Consequently, First Atlantic Merchant Bank Limited and Energy Commercial Bank have merged, Omni Bank and Bank Sahel Sahara have merged, and First National Bank and GHL Bank have merged. The three resulting banks out of these mergers have all met the new minimum capital requirement.

Some private pension funds in Ghana have injected fresh equity capital in five indigenous banks through a special purpose holding company named Ghana Amalgamated Trust Limited (GAT).

In addition to the state-owned banks (ADB, NIB) benefiting from the GAT scheme, the other beneficiary banks (the merged Omni/Bank Sahel Sahara, Universal Merchant Bank, and Prudential Bank) were selected by GAT on the basis of their solvent status and good corporate governance. More details about the GAT scheme will be provided by GAT and the Ministry of Finance.

Also, GN Bank (GN) was unable to comply with the Minimum Capital Directive by 31stDecember 2018. Consequently, GN Bank has applied for, and the Bank of Ghana has approved the grant of a savings and loans company licence.

The Bank of Ghana has also approved a transition plan submitted by GN for winding down aspects of its business which are not compatible with a savings and loans company licence.

The Bank of Baroda (Ghana) Limited was licensed by the Bank of Ghana as a universal bank on 28th January 2008. It is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Bank of Baroda India which is in turn wholly-owned by the Government of India.

By a letter dated 9th April 2018, the Bank of Ghana was notified by the Bank of Baroda, India (the parent company of Bank of Baroda (Ghana) Limited) of its decision to divest/sell its entire 100% equity in the bank due to the Government of India’s decision to rationalise the overseas operations of the branches/subsidiaries of Indian public sector banks.

The Bank of Ghana has since approved a request for a voluntary winding up of the operations of Bank of Baroda (Ghana) Limited effective December 31, 2018.

To ensure an orderly exit, and to safeguard the interest of depositors and customers, the Bank of Ghana has approved an Assumption Agreement between Bank of Baroda (Ghana) Limited and Stanbic Bank Ghana Limited under which the latter will assume all deposits and selected loan assets of the bank.

Pursuant to Section 123 of the Banks and Specialised-Deposit-Taking Institutions Act, 2016 (Act 930), the Bank of Ghana has revoked the banking licences of Premium Bank Limited and Heritage Bank Limited with effect from the date of this Notice and has appointed Mr. Vish Ashiagbor of PricewaterhouseCoopers as Receiver for the two banks.

Heritage Bank among other things obtained its banking licence on 4th October 2016 on the basis of capital with questionable sources. Furthermore, the bank was unable to meet the new minimum capital requirement of GHC 400 million as of 31stDecember 2018.

The Bank of Ghana has also approved a Purchase and Assumption Agreement between the Receiver and Consolidated Bank Ghana Limited (CBG) under which the Receiver has transferred some assets and liabilities of the two banks to CBG.

Deal with liquidity challenge  

A renowned economist and Professor at the University of Cape Coast (UCC), John Gatsi, has called on the Bank of Ghana (BoG) to deal with the country’s banking sector liquidity challenge to stimulate economic activity.

According to himthe banking sector reforms are not completed without the BoG restoring liquidity in the sector.

Commenting on the BoG’s announcement that it had drawn curtains down on its 20-month long banking sector reforms, leading to the pruning of universal banks from 36 to 23, Prof Gatsi, said: “The core purpose of banking sector reform is not about reducing the number of banks”.

He explained: The main purpose is to ensure solid, sound and stable banking sector that can deliver sustainable financial services to households, private sector and government while ensuring confidence within the framework of good corporate governance”.

There is massive illiquidity because illiquid bonds were issued to support the process. This has made newly formed Ghana Consolidated Bank (GCB) not meeting the demands of depositors, he told African Eye Report.

Prof Gatsi maintained: “Meeting the minimum capital is not the same as liquidity of banks. The business is potent when liquidity is solid and the health of an economy is driven largely by liquid banking sector”.

Menzgold crisis

From the above, economists and other financial experts are concluding that the financial sector is in turmoil. Adding to this, insecurity has crept into the market, heightened by events namely the early-October crash of Menzgold, a gold dealership firm.

MenzGold

The firm led by a twenty-something-year “showbiz” entrepreneur known as Nana Appiah Mensah popularly referred to as NAM1,had repeatedly clashed with regulators-BoG, Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and Minerals Commission for regulatory infractions.

The three regulators claimed that Menzgold was unlincensed and had no right to operate under their guidelines.

The company was defiant and went ahead to hire an international law firm-Baker McKenzie to fight the regulators on its behalf.

For months now, thousands of Menzgold customers are unable to access their investments after the SEC ordered its closure, due to its unregulated business model.

Earlier, December, Menzgold had asked its staff to proceed on leave following increasing threats to its properties as well as staff of the company.

Menzgold has been unable to pay its clients their dividends due to an ongoing battle with SEC and the BoG over its operations.

While the state institutions say the company has not been licensed to take deposits, Menzgold insists it does not take deposits and does not answer to the two institutions.

President of NDC Professionals Forum International disappointed in gov’t

The President of NDC Professionals Forum International, Arnold Appiah who is based in California, U.S, told African Eye Report that the current government has so renege on the promises made to the people.

Nana Addo and his vice president have betrayed the trust of the Ghanaian people, they have again resorted to lies in a desperate attempt to save their fast sinking image, he added.

Mr Appiah therefore appealed to Ghanaians not to renew the mandate of Mr Akufo-Addo and his NPP in the 2020 election. “They should rather vote massively for the NDC”, he stated.

Chains of unfulfilled promises

 The youthful National Communications Officer of NDC, Sammy Gyamfi catalogued some of the unfulfilled promises of the Akufo-Addo’s government in his maiden Moment of Truth press conference held in Accra.

* They have delivered on their promise to pay all contractors within the first 100 days of their administration, such that today, GETFUND contractors are threatening demonstrations and closures of the schools they built.

* Indeed, they have for the past two years delivered $1million to each of the 275 Constituencies in Ghana, such that today, all 275 Constituencies have received $2 million each, for the construction of KVIP toilets.

* Yes, they have delivered on their promise to provide a congenial atmosphere for the growth of the financial sector, by supervising the contraction of the sector from a positive growth of 22.3% (as at last quarter of 2016) to a negative growth of 13.1%.

* Again, they have delivered on their promise of a lean government by appointing 111 Ministers and employing over 1,600 persons at the Office of Government Machinery.

* Indeed, they have delivered, such that in 2018, out of a total of GHS636 million allocated to the Ministry of Trade as stimulus package for industries, only an insignificant GHS1 million has been disbursed with the year almost about the end.

* They have delivered on the promise of One Village, One Dam by providing a handful of dug-outs and excavated ponds. 419 deliveries is their speciality.

* Yes, they have delivered on their promise not to borrow by accumulating almost half the total debt of Ghana from independence to date (50 billion Ghana Cedis), in less than two years, with very little to show on the ground.

* Yes, they have delivered on their promise to move Ghana from taxation to production by increasing VAT by 5% under the guise of VAT conversion; and introducing new taxes like luxury Vehicle tax etc.

* They have delivered on their promise to stabilize the Exchange Rate so well that, the Ghana Cedi is currently struggling against all major foreign currencies.

Today, the NPP’s so called economic messiah Dr. Bawumia, has completely lost his mojo. Due to his manifest impotence and cluelessness, he has chickened out from economics and is now seeking refuge in technology (GhanaPost GPS and Drone technology).

From ( l-r ), Ken Ofori-Atta, Minister of Finance and Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, Vice President, Ghana

* They have delivered on their promise to build One Factory in every District by appropriating existing private businesses some of which have been in existence for over 10 years as their 1D1F projects. A phenomenon that is so ridiculous that the joke in town today is that very soon, even Guinness Ghana Limited, Coca Cola, GIHOC Distilleries and may be the Accra Mall will be commissioned as 1D1F projects.

* Yes, they have delivered on their promise to reduce Corporate tax from 25% to 20% such that today, Rural Banks are happy about the “crippling effect” of the 25% Coporate tax they have been paying over the last twenty four months.

* Yes they have, through their stellar performance, delivered on their promise to create sustainable jobs by causing the collapse of several businesses leading to thousands of job losses.

President Akufo-Addo himself has not hesitated on several recent occasions, to speak of how his government remains on track to deliver on its mandate. It would appear to us that the Akufo-Addo/Bawumia government is still oblivious of what the times are in Ghana”.

The President and his Vice, who are busily enjoying the largess of power, have lost touch with the reality of dire economic straits that their mis-governance and maladministration has brought to this country, according to Mr Gyamfi.

By Masahudu Ankiilu Kunateh, African Eye Report

 

 

 

 

 

Photo Gallery

Log in | Designed by Village Pixels