Don’t blame coronavirus for bad economy; we’ve had bad managers – Mahama

The flagbearer of the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), Mr John Dramani Mahama, has said no one should blame the coronavirus pandemic for the bad state of the economy because it was already struggling before the pandemic.

According to Mr Mahama, Ghana’s economy has been worst-ever since the history of the fourth republic because “we have had poor managers of the country”.

Mr Mahama identified “political shortsightedness” and “political victimisation” as the reasons the economy, in his opinion, is in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

Addressing a gathering at the palace of the Agbogbomefia of the Asogli State, Togbui Afede XIV, as part of his tour of the Volta Region, Mr Mahama said: “In the history of the fourth republic the economy has not been as bad as it is today and let nobody say its because of coronavirus. The economy was already struggling before coronavirus came. And for the first time in our history, the finance ministry presents two sets of figures on the economy. One they present to parliament, the other they present to the IMF.

“In one, they say the fiscal deficit is below 5 per cent. In the other, the fiscal deficit is above 7 per cent but we will end this year with the worst fiscal deficit we’ve ever had in the history of Ghana. It is possible we will end this year with a fiscal deficit of almost 15 per cent of GDP and that is because we’ve had poor managers of the economy.”

Mr Mahama continued that “Governance or the management of a country is based on planning and common sense. There are certain decisions you take that will be inimical to the growth and prosperity of your economy and yet because of political short-sightedness and because of political victimisation, this government has taken decisions that are aimed at penalising their political opponents but in the end, has affected the growth and prosperity of the economy.”

According to the former President, the first mistake the Akufo-Addo-led government made was to suspend all government contracts and refuse to pay contractors.

“As I speak, some contractors have died without being paid their legitimate monies, others are ill, suffered a stroke because their creditors are hounding them…”

“They forget contractors work with monies borrowed from banks so if you don’t pay the contractor, he cannot pay the bank. They work with credit from cement companies, if you don’t pay them, they can’t pay the cement owner…Contractors work with [skilled labour] and if you don’t pay them, they can’t pay their employees. If contractors are not working, women who sell food at contract sights cannot sell food to get money for their families. That is how the economy is interlinked but out of political shortsightedness, this government has not paid contractors,” Mr Mahama bemoaned.   

Mr Mahama further noted that when the liquidity of banks are affected as a result of the contractors’ inability to pay back the loans they took, instead of the government carefully thinking through to save these banks belonging to Ghanaians, “because of political shortsightedness you shut down nine banks, microfinance companies, meanwhile, if you had paid contractors and they had paid the banks, their liquidity would have improved and we might not have needed to shut down any bank.”

The NDC flagbearer further wondered why the government refused to use GHS9 billion to save the banks but rather collapsed them to the extent that the state now owes GHS22 billion as a result of the financial sector clean-up.

“If Ghana were your company, will you run it like that”? Mr Mahama quizzed.   

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