I am told Vice-President Bawumia is planning a news conference to throw light on how the economy has performed so far. He could; after all, he chairs the Economic Management Team.
If the objective is only to explain why things are the way they are, plead with Ghanaians to exercise more of our godly forbearance and give the President Akufo-Addo government “just a few months more”, then, by all means, this press conference is called for.
By now, after two years with him in the Vice-Presidential chair, however, I fear what Dr Bawumia is rearing to get off his chest – tell the NDC a few home truths and make declarations to the effect that the economy is doing great and that life is better.
If these are going to his headlines, then the advice from me is to call off the news conference. I, who offers this advice, am the writer who wrote in praise of him on this same page a year ago under the headline: ‘The Beloved Bawumia’.
It is natural. As the running mate who, from 2014 through 2016, ran riot in this country, taking the Mahama government to the cleaners, Bawumia may want to choose the path of all humans by painting a picture that says, “I was right.” It’s human, but I wish he would stay his hand this time.
Fact is, at this rate of the economy’s performance, if there is one thing Ghanaians need, it is silence or a plea to our conscience. If I am a typical Ghanaian, I can say that if an election were conducted today, Bawumia would not win by the same landslide he would have garnered two years ago. Bawumianomics is simply not the people’s favourite any more.
Life is tough. Yet, such is the confidence I have in the current Finance Minister that when I heard on radio that the cedi was appreciating against the major currencies, I went to sleep smiling. I remembered his assurance that the government was expecting about $300 million coming in from COCOBOD in about a month, and the launch of the $3 billion Eurobond.
That is why as a human being with blood flowing through these veins, I felt the disappointment when the forex lady told me, this week, the exchange rate for the day: more than GH¢5.00 to buy one dollar!
This couldn’t be happening to Ghana in a government that has (to me) some of the best economic managers this country can boast of. Talk of Osafo Maafo, one time Africa’s Best Finance Minister and under whom we really felt an appreciating currency and a growing economy. My personal favourite is Akoto Osei – my God, that guy knows Economics! Ken Ofori-Atta has, since he returned from one of the best Ivy League Economics schools in the world, been my idea of the economist without blemish.
So what could have gone wrong? Fortunately, the President admits that the “economic fundamentals” are out of control. His establishment of the Presidential Fiscal Advisory Council is evidence of his sincerity and desire to arrest the downward spiral.
I don’t know about you, but the first time I heard about the Fiscal Advisory Council to advise the President on appropriate measures to be taken to ensure fiscal discipline, I concluded that it was another way of admitting that Bawumianomics had not worked.
After all the previous failed attempts to stabilise the cedi by pumping more dollars into the system, I thought my beloved Ken Ofori-Atta would do something different.
But what do we see? He is pumping; yes, pumping and failing. Why would it not fail when those men at Cow Lane and Tudu are around? In South Africa, the hotel would not change my rand back into dollar unless I produced my passport. Recently in Scotland, the hotel refused to accept my payment in dollars, insisting on the pound.
The millions of dollars pumped into the system on Monday is gobbled up by Wednesday, by traders who import used mattresses, used TV sets, used stereo systems…. They come in truckloads every weekend. The cedis made from the sale of those goods are quickly changed into dollars and pounds and euros.
Shouldn’t there be a law that refuses to sell foreign currencies above a certain volume to people unless they can prove what they are using the money to import? That law should, first, outlaw Cow Lane.
So if any reader has access to Bawumia, kindly advise him to relax. You don’t teach economics to a hungry people. He should take the words of the Indian sage, Mahatma Gandhi, that “there are people in the world so hungry that God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread”.
I will only call this current Agric Minister successful when TV stations stop showing scenes of tomatoes rotting on the farm for want of access to the market; when I see a return of the Acheampong era when schools competed against one another to win laurels in which schools were feeding themselves from their own farms.
The performance of the economy has made NDC look like angels. After a terrible performance that ended only two years ago, the NDC suddenly seem to possess all the answers!
Columnist: Enimil Ashon