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08.05.2007 General News

Consultants, JAK disagree on remittance figures

By The Chronicle

A recent report on poverty by two World Bank Consultants to the Ghana Statistical Service has contradicted figures mentioned by President J.A. Kufuor as being remittances from Ghanaians abroad.

According to the Ghana Statistical Service, in a 12-month period from 2005 to 2006, Ghanaians abroad remitted to Ghana an amount of $253 million.

The figure which was reported in the Service's report on poverty falls far short of the US$4 billion and the US$8 billion that President Kufuor had mentioned at various times and which some diasporans have consistently used as justification for demanding voting rights from abroad.

According to The Chronicle newspaper, the revelation came to light during the presentation of a summary of the findings of the recent report on poverty by Harold Coulombe and Quentin Wodon, two World Bank Consultants to GSS, at the Country Economic Memorandum Seminar held at the Bank's office in Accra last Wednesday, May 2.

The paper said the difference is sure to create another controversy similar to the President's claim about April 2005 when at an encounter with the media, he cited Ghana's per capita income as having reached US$600. That was at a time the GSS and World Bank were quoting figures less than US $500.

President Kufuor then sought to rationalize the $600 figure by blaming the GSS, literally branding them as incompetent, a criticism which The Chronicle gathered did offend the Government Statistician.

When asked to comment on the report, a well known social commentator said that the disparity “further widens the President's credibility gap. We are getting to a point where we can't believe him on anything”.

Another shocking revelation in the report was that Ghanaians at home send more remittances to their relatives here in Ghana than Ghanaians receive from abroad.

According to the GSS, domestic remittances mostly from cities to towns and villages in Ghana amounted to US$270 million, compared to US$253 million from diasporans.

Contrary to popular perceptions, the report also said that less than 10% of Ghanaian households receive all the remittances from abroad and that most of this goes to rich families not poor ones. As the report observed, it means that Ghanaians at home do more to alleviate poverty than the diasporans.

Another shocker in the report was that foreign remittances make up only 2.6% of national income, another indication that diasporans' contribution to national development had been overstated.

The Country Economic Memorandum was the result of President Kufuor's call on the Bank to help Government accelerate growth.

Source: The Chronicle