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05.02.2009 General News

Government tries to change figures?

By The Statesman
Government tries to change figures?

Statesman newspaper says it has uncovered a desperate attempt by the Mills administration to tamper with some available, yet undisclosed, data about the national economy, to 'buttress' their false claim that the erstwhile New Patriotic Party government left behind a collapsed economy.

In pursuit of this, the economic transition team is putting pressure on the Ghana Statistical Service to reduce the nation's Gross Domestic Product growth rate for 2008.

The Statistical Service has reported a preliminary GDP growth for 2008 of 7.2 percent, which is the highest in the nation's recent history and the longest sustained growth ever.

Checks show that since 1960, we have only had two years in which growth rate had been higher than what was recorded last year.

One of the years was 1978, in which the nation recorded GDP growth rate of 9.3 percent, resulting from a major boost in cocoa production. Also in 1984, the nation recorded a GDP growth rate of 8.3 per cent. This was mainly accounted for by the boom in agricultural production following the 1983 drought.

Information available to The Statesman indicates that the Mills economic transition team has mounted pressure on the Service to reduce the growth rate estimate because it does not fit their story of inheriting a collapsed economy.

Insiders in the administration say the 7.2 figure on the growth of the economy generated some heated arguments between Togbe Afede, Chairman of the government economic transition team, and Kwabena Duffour, Minister-designate for Finance and Economic Planning when they met at Akosombo for an economic retreat.

According to a source, Togbe Afede vehemently opposed the figure presented by the Ghana Statistical Service, insisting that it was not possible for the nation to record 7.2 per cent GDP growth rate last year.

Togbe Afede's submission was, however, strongly challenged by Dr. Duffour who argued that it was not unrealistic for the nation to record that rate of GDP growth, citing the unprecedented economic activities the nation witnessed in the second half of last year.

Checks made by The Statesman indicate that the economic activities generated from last year's electioneering exercise added at least $2.5 million to the national economy. This was made up of direct cash pumped into the economy, with the NPP and NDC being the biggest spenders, and merchandise activities.

Also, the global economic crunch led to increased investment in the country, with many Ghanaians abroad bringing more money home for investment in treasury bills which offered relatively higher yield, with over 20 per cent interest rate.

Since the NDC took over the reigns of government, there has however been a slow down of investment in the country by Ghanaians abroad. This has been the direct result of the fast depreciation of the value of the cedi, resulting from the panic buying of the dollar sparked by the declaration that "Ghana is broke."

Presidential spokesperson Mahama Ayarigah however denies story saying there was no such debate between Togbe Afede and Duffour as claimed by the paper.

He told Joy FM's Kojo Oppong-Nkrumah the calculation of the growth rate was a scientific exercise which did not lend itself to manipulation by anybody.

He said the story by the Statesman was misleading and unfair and ought to be reviewed.

Earlier the Executive Director of the Danquah Institute, Gabby Asare Ochere-Darko said it was unfortunate that government was persistently seeking to create a negative image of the economy.

He contends that the difficult and gloomy nature of the global economy encumbered the government to send positive signals about the country's economy to the capital market.

According to him, challenging the figures put out by the statistical service, with the primary aim to discredit the previous government was unnecessary.

Story by Malik Abass Daabu with additional files from The Statesman.