Stop ‘arrogance, impunity and accept economy is in crisis -Prof. Kwesi Botchwey to govt
Ghana’s longest serving Finance Minister, Professor Kwesi Botchwey, has advised the Akufo-Addo government to accept that the economy is in a crisis, tell the people the truth and then cut down on impunity.
“Our current travails can be overcome provided we level with the people. The solution to a problem begins with recognising that there is one. It must start with the recognition that it is a crisis and level with the people. We must wind down the hubris, the arrogance, and the show of impunity that the people see”, Prof Botchwey said at the 65th Independence Day Lecture held at the Economics Department of the University of Ghana, Legon, on Monday, March 7, 2022.
It was on the theme:“On the state of the nation’s economy and politics, 65 years after independence, the path to sustainable development and democratic consolidation.”
Prof Botchwey’s comments come a day after President Nana Akufo-Addo asked Ghanaians for help in getting the economy back on track.
The President said at Ghana’s 65th Independence Day anniversary: “I will not renege on my pledge to help create progressive and prosperous Ghana” but “I, however, cannot do this alone”.
“I need the backing of each and every one of you, if we are to bounce back together and build a Ghana beyond aid”, he pleaded at Cape Coast, Central Region on Sunday, 6 March 2022.
President Akufo-Addo said the anniversary theme: ‘Working together; bouncing back together’, “imposes a duty on all of us” as far as what it means to be a Ghanaian and loving one’s country, is concerned.
Borrowing a leaf from history, the President recounted how “our forebears worked together with the belief that Ghana, once free and independent, could make her own unique contribution to the growth of world civilisation and be able to generate wealth and prosperity for the masses of her people”.
“They [forebears] put away ethnic, political and religious affiliations and came together to work for the liberation of the Gold Coast from colonial and imperial domination”, he noted.
“Each one of them”, Mr Akufo-Addo explained, “contributed their quota toward a free, independent Ghana in which we now live”.
“All of us gathered here and millions out there – inside our borders and outside – share this love for the place we call home”, the President said.
According to him, “When we make wrong choices, we must act to set things right” and “when those put in charge of running affairs get it wrong, we must have the courage to say so”.
“That is our patriotic duty and calling. But, we must not, at any given opportunity, run down our nation simply because we can, all to achieve a narrow, political can partisan interest”, the President condemned.
Ghana’s democratic system of governance, he noted, “acknowledges that we’ll have differences of opinion on the way forward for our nation. We must, however, recognise that the expression of those diverse views should not undermine the fundamental unity we need to forge to advance the cause of our nation”, the President added.
The Ghanaian leader said despite the harm done to the economy by the COVID-19 pandemic, his government will soldier on to fix things.
“Fellow Ghanaians, for the last two years, we’ve seen, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the disruption of the global supply chain, and the global financial system; the opening up of a huge funding gap in virtually all countries, the widening of the fiscal deficit and increased public debt level. Simply put, there are difficulties everywhere in the world. We are seeing increasing global freight rates, rising crude oil prices – which means rising fuel prices; rising cost of items on the market, as a result of inflationary pressures and the depreciation of currencies”.
“Inasmuch as these are all happening in all countries around the world, the government of Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has not thrown up its hands in despair. We’re not looking for the easy way out”, he clarified.
He said: “We’re determined to become even more self-reliant and, in the process, find Ghanaian solutions to Ghanaian problems, as, already, we have made considerable progress toward this end”.
He noted that, for example, Ghana, today, “is a net exporter of foodstuffs thanks to the success of the programme for Planting for Food and Jobs” while pointing out: “Free Senior High School is ensuring money, or the lack of it, is no longer a barrier toward the attainment of a minimum of senior high school education for every Ghanaian child – an important tool for the development of our nation”.
“We’re processing more of our cocoa in Ghana than at any other time in our history”, adding: “The ‘One District-One Factory’ initiative, which has seen the ongoing construction of 278 factories cross the country – 106 completed – is part of the foundation, on which we are building a comprehensive industrialisation programme by the development of strategic anchor industries and the coordinated exploitation of our bauxite and iron ore resources”. Also, the President noted: “We have opened up this country through the construction of roads, more than any other government has in the history of the fourth republic”.
Further, he said: “Our efforts at digitisation are improving transparency, accountability and efficiency in the public sector and helping to accelerate the growth of our economy”.
“Fellow Ghanaians, these and more are what we have used tax revenues for over the last five years. In all your communities, villages, towns, constituencies and regions, you’re seeing your taxes at work – whether it is the construction of a classroom block, clinic, small-town water facility, factory or road and we will continue down this path”, he said.