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23.10.2014 Editorial

Face-Losing Machinations

By Daily Guide
Face-Losing Machinations
LISTEN OCT 23, 2014

Dr Philomena Nyarko
There has never been so much ado over fiscal statistics. It all started with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) posting a disturbing picture about our debt-to-GDP ratio, which was at variance with the local figures from both the Bank of Ghana and the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS). The repercussions were not good for the government, especially the apex bank and the GSS.

This was quickly followed by a palpable revision by the IMF intended as it were, to mitigate the face-losing aftermath of the release of the telltale figures.

We are still stuck in the confusion, not knowing the truth. One thing is clear though: cooking figures is becoming an entrenched component of government features; and it is not helping our image in the comity of civilised nations. The IMF has not helped matters with its vacillation in a matter which is about national integrity.

Sanjeez Gupta, Deputy Director of Fiscal Affairs Department of the IMF, has a lot of work to do. It behoves him to redeem the image of the Bretton Wood institution under the disturbing circumstances.

If the economic figures are still beclouded by so much confusion—leaving the layman more confused than before—we are hard-pushed not to lose confidence in our local state institutions which have perfected the art of using erroneous figures to mislead not only Ghanaians, but international institutions.

Unfortunately, playing games with fiscal figures will invariably end in damning expositions. Our future figures and projections are definitely going to be digested by the Bretton Wood institutions with a pinch of salt henceforth.

We can bet it that the IMF would be constrained to administer harsher measures as part of the bailout prescriptions, given our untrustworthiness to the detriment of the already hard-pressed Ghanaian.

If we can pardon the IMF, not so the GSS, whose penchant for feeding erroneous figures to Ghanaians is household knowledge. Now that the GSS is finding it convenient to feed the erroneous figures to the international community, our integrity as a nation will suffer let.

It is appalling that the GSS, a state agency peopled by professionals, would throw ethics to the dogs and subscribe to political machinations of the ruling party in a selfish bid to protect their jobs, even as the nation loses face. We must be heading for a failed economy as the newly pensioned will discover soon that the kitty containing their funds has been emptied for other government transactions.

When the content of the inflation basket was queried by Dr Mahamudu Bawumia because it could not as it stood, produce the true inflation state of the country, he was verbally attacked. Dr Philomena Nyarko, the Government Chief Statistician, found the query unacceptable but had to eventually vary the content in line with Dr Bawumia's. Her name is unfortunately becoming synonymous with cooked fiscal figures ruefully.

And now she is feeding an international institution with her cooked figures to achieve transient political scores. That we are where we are today is attributable to this lack of moral decency among the leadership of state institutions for whom the national interest is but an abstract phenomenon not worth working for.


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