The announcement of the running mate of the biggest opposition party has provoked a political debate about the competencies of their Vice-Presidential candidate. This debate is expected as the media predicted the choice of a person from the NDC party to counter the NPP’s running mate, the Vice-President.
In my Article, titled The “Classics” of the Veep, I traced the history of the Vice-Presidents in the Fourth Republic and realised that three of them were people with backgrounds in Economics: late Professor Mills, late Amissah Arthur and Dr. Bawumia all read Economics. It was also revealed that either the President or the Vice, with exception to the pairings of JJ Rawlings and Kow Nkensen Arkaa, read Economics. This is a fact.
The middle class, mostly academics, in our country do not care much about the professional and academic qualifications of a president and the running mate. If taken seriously, parties would have been fielding political scientists, lawyers and economists. People with backgrounds in these areas have deeper and insightful knowledge in governance and governance related-issues. But in reality, the happenings in governance are contrary to the “imaginary” models.
In fact, the policies on education, health, agriculture, financial sector, road construction and general infrastructure as well as industrialistion will be the persuasive and alluring factors to get the votes of the elites in Ghana. The choice of the running mates may not be the primary issue to consider before casting votes. If people do consider the qualities of the running mate, the ability of such a person to deliver the common good will be the fundamental issue.
Economics was first called political economics. It was later changed to its current name due to the incorporation of mathematical models in its analysis. The analysis and applications of economic principles to solve governance issues cannot be underestimated. Economics, Law and Politics play critical roles in governance. Issues about Economics and Politics overlap.
The debate about the NDC’s running mate not possessing the right professional and academic competencies to head an Economic Management Team may be plausible to some extent. In fact, all governments have or have had Finance Ministers, especially in the Fourth Republic, the introduction of Economic Management Teams have place much accountabilities on the Vice-President. Former President JJ Rawlings and the first Vice-President in the Fourth Republic, Mr. Arkaa did not have backgrounds in Economics but the rest of the pairs would have either of them possess knowledge in the subject. Politics and Economics interlink.
The political inference that can be drawn currently from the writings of Mr. Alex Mould is that the establishment of the Economic Management Team is not indispensable. He argued that a Finance Minister who understands how much to manage the economy is enough. But the NDC had a Finance Minister and an Economic Management Team. Can be it inferred that the Finance Minister then did not understand how to manage the economy?
He makes another argument that the Economic Management Team is only crucial to help monitor the implementation of policies in the manifesto of the government. This is inherently flawed. The Finance Minister is appointed by the President and so he can give directives to him or her to implement his or her policies in the party’s manifesto. The reasons he gave are not factual.
In reality, the Central Bank implements the policies of the Finance Ministry. The Finance Ministry in essence does not implement policies without the help of the Central Bank. So the President needs the Economic Management Team to harmonize the activities of the Finance Ministry and that of the Central Bank in implementing policies. The Finance Minister may have several issues to attend to and that indicates the need to have the Vice-President play such a role, heading the Economic Management Team. The EMT plays more serious roles than just monitoring the implementation of government policies. With Chief Directors and deputy ministers of finance, ensuring the strict execution of manifesto items as policies is not a difficulty. Therefore, the EMT has more purposes than what he ascribes to that unit.
If the position of the Vice-President requires strengths in managing people, then it is needless to even create it. The President should have the abilities in managing the people of Ghana alone without support. There are other bodies like the cabinet that can help the President manage the people. Maybe the relevance of the Office of the Vice-President is diminished.
The arguments about the Vice-President not being able to manage issues such as the exchange rate (the dollar), inflation, fuel prices, GDP etc have no basis if what he puts out must be believed. These are not within the control of the Vice. The Finance Minister must always be blamed for the poor performance of the economy in general and not the Vice.
It is true that Economics is not the only subject that must be studied by office holders, high or low, it cuts across disciplines. Economic analysis can be applied explicitly throughout society and fields in society, in real estate, business, finance, healthcare and government. Economists are interested in good governance, democracy and public administration.
Fundamentally, there is no limpid evidence to indicate to the contrary that an educationist cannot manage the EMT perfectly in practice. The evidence is that Economics works with principles and procedures analogous to politics. People with in-depth knowledge in it function excellently.
Emmanuel Kwabena Wucharey
Economics Tutor- Kintampo SHS