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07.11.2008 Business & Finance

Baah-Wiredu Leaves Great Legacies

By Daily Guide

Former Finance Minister, Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu, who died in South Africa on September 24, 2008 and will be laid to rest on Saturday in his home town of Agogo in the Ashanti region, has left great legacies that will be forever remembered.

His vision and immense work that has helped transform public sector management in Ghana and the private sector as well, brought several top notch people, both Ghanaians and non-Ghanaians to pay their last respect when he was laid to rest at the forecourt of the State House yesterday.

President John Agyekum Kufuor, Ministers of State, Parliamentarians, senior public servants, private sector players, industrialists, heads of diplomatic institutions, and politicians among others thronged the State House to bid the late Finance Minister good bye.

The greatest legacies Mr. Baah-Wiredu is leaving include the presentation of the new fiscal year budget, two clear months before the current year ends; the 2050 year budget, expected to turn Ghana into one of the most industrialized and advanced economies in the world by then and the one computer laptop per child for every school kid.

The one computer laptop per child project, an initiative of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, is a programme that was so dear to the heart of the former Ashanti Akyem North Member of Parliament.

These great works culminated in him winning the Best Finance Minister in Africa back-to-back.

Even when death laid its icy hands on him, Mr. Baah-Wiredu's great works were still recognized as Board of Governors of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) conferred on him, the title of Best Finance Minister in Africa at their meeting in Washington D.C.

This was due to his exemplary leadership that enabled Ghana to ease doing business in the country.   

CITY & BUSINESS GUIDE brings you a chronicle of some his unforgettable legacies.

1. The raising of $750 million sovereign or euro bonds in 2007 by Ghana, the first African country after South Africa to so on the international capital market. These monies were meant to support several development projects such as the dualization of the country's' roads and improvement in infrastructure.

2.  Tax reforms such as the introduction of three percent flat rate scheme for the informal sector leading to immense growth in tax revenue.  

 3. Introduction of funds, such as the Venture Capital Trust Fund, meant to grow the SME sector which is considered the bedrock of every economy.

4. Regular dialogue with private sector players, including the Association of Ghana Industries, the Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA) to find out their problems to encompass it into national finance and trade policies.

5. Contribution to the introduction of some financial sector laws such as the Credit Reporting Law, expected to help provide timely, accurate, and up-to-date information on the debt profile and repayment history of borrowers.

6. He also significantly supported the introduction of the flagship Ezwich smartcard system introduced by the Bank of Ghana, expected to rope in the “unbanked” and “underbanked” segment of the population to save with the banks.

Other payment systems which he supported immensely though they are yet to be introduced include the Cheque Code Line Truncating and the Automated Clearing System.

Other initiatives that he started but will not see their implementation include:

1.    Financial Literacy Programme expected to bolster savings and investment culture among Ghanaians.

2.    The Gold Jubilee Bond which is to promote savings culture among Ghanaians that would support the significantly higher levels of investment to propel the country into middle-income status by 2015.

Touted as 'Mr. Figures' by all, Mr. Baah-Wiredu will be laid to rest in his beautiful hometown of Agogo in the Ashanti region on Saturday.

Without a doubt, the Ashanti Akyem township will be thrown into a state of mourning when the man whose death shocked the very foundation of Ghana is laid to rest this weekend.

He was affable, liked by all and easygoing, as he never looked down on people.

His dexterity with regard to his duties also brought improvement to the lives of the people since he always ensured transparency and accountability in his duties, hence monies meant for projects were well utilized.

When this paper visited the Ministry of Finance yesterday, almost the entire staff had gone to the funeral grounds to pay their last respect to a man many consider as their father.

A security staff this paper interacted with said he was saddened by Mr. Baah Wiredu departure, adding that the late minister listened to everyone's problem.  

Before he got to the entrance of the Ministry every morning, he shook hands with all and sundry, he added. By Charles Nixon Yeboah