KWADWO BAAH-WIREDU, Minister of Finance and Economic Planning has described as misleading claims by Professor John Evans Atta-Mills, former Vice President and National Democratic Congress (NDC) presidential candidate that loans contracted under the New Patriotic Party (NPP) administration attract higher interests.
He said the former Vice President did not only tell a lie to the whole world, but also tried to throw dust into the eyes of the good people of Ghana.
The minister made the remarks in an interview with DAILY GUIDE when the paper sought his reaction to a recent newspaper publication on the issues raised by the law professor.
According to him, the NDC government, under which Professor Atta-Mills was the head of the National Economic Management Team, was rather guilty of contracting loans with high interests.
He said since this government took over the mantle of leadership in 2001, only one loan attracted 6.5% interest, while in the NDC administration some loans had interest as high as 12.5%.
He explained that the only loan his ministry contracted at 8.5% interest rate was a sovereign bond from the International Capital Market.
Mr. Baah-Wiredu said it was unfortunate that the former Vice President decided to twist facts when he very well knew the truth.
The Professor was recently quoted by an Accra weekly as saying, “What is more sinister is the fact that the loans being contracted currently are of higher interest rates than in the past”.
However, in a swift reaction to the allegations, the minister said, “This is not true. The Professor should go through the records”.
Presenting a head-load of documents to DAILY GUIDE to set the records straight, he said in 1991 Professor Mills' PNDC/NDC government signed a $240,000 loan agreement from the International Finance Corporation (IFC) for the improvement of facilities at the Dimples Inn in Accra at an interest rate of 12.5%.
He further referred to a South Trust Bank of Alabama loan signed in 1997. The $6million loan, signed for the purchase of farm equipment, attracted an interest of 12%.
Others included the $19.36m Takoradi Thermal Plant loan of 1995 from the Commonwealth Development Corporation - 11.7%; two Lines of Credit to NIB (1985) from African Development Bank - 11% each; $9.467m rehabilitation of Mampong-Ejura road - 9.25%, and the Government of France $4.646m Novotel-II loan of 10.74%.
The minister said these cannot be compared to the NPP's loans such as the Sekondi-Takoradi Water Supply loan - 5.97%; Weija Dam Remedial Works - 5.97%; Elmina Fishing Harbour - 4.08%; and the $292m Bui Hydroelectric Project - 6.13%.
He appealed to politicians to desist from misleading the people simply because they want to score political points.
By Bennett Akuaku