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09.10.2004 Business & Finance

EDITORIAL: This IMF endorsement is intrusive

By Public Agenda

Public Agenda -- For us on this paper, there is reason to worry about the endorsement of the Hon. Osafo Marfo as Africa's Best Finance Minister by the International Monetary Fund, especially coming at the heels of the World Bank's declaration of Ghana, as having reached the HIPC completion point, when the country was yet to fulfill all the conditions for getting there. These, and the manner in which $103 million was approved (ahead of the scheduled World Bank Board meeting on the subject) for Ghana's water sector reform programme, raise suspicions, especially given the timing of these developments.

The report in the Daily Graphic of Wednesday October 6, said: “ The Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Yaw Osafo Marfo, has received the covetous award of the Best African Finance Minister of the year at a World Bank / IMF sponsored reception in Washington, USA.” The report cites Ghana's attainment of HIPC completion point and the accrued debt relief from that achievement as a factor that visibly influenced the decision of the Bretton Wood Institutions. Ghana is not the first but the 14th country to have attained HIPC completion point. The question is, how many of the Finance Ministers of the 13 previous achievers were accorded such laurel?

Not that we have a problem with the Finance Minister. He is a fine gentleman, we agree. In fact, we respect him a lot. He is intelligent and hardworking; but his IMF / World Bank instigated policies are not reducing poverty. They just can't, because they are destroying our production base.

We know the Minister had good intentions, when he imposed levies on imported rice and chicken products. He most probably saw the need to nurture our capacity to feed ourselves, and to reduce the level of our import dependency, for which reason our farmers must be protected from unfair competition from subsidized imports. But the IMF, which, claim to be committed to the fight against poverty in our part of the world, did not agree. It arm-twisted and blackmailed this honourable man into reversing the decision, which at the time he did, had received parliamentary approval, with the relevant laws amended in readiness for implementation. We find it quite disconcerting that the reversal of the law, had to be done without recourse to parliament. The IMF's insistence, and the manner in which the law was reversed, in our estimation, amounts to a usurpation of the powers of our parliament, and has serious implications for democracy and national sovereignty.

It is for this and other similar reasons that we call on all Ghanaians to treat the award the way it ought to be treated – WITH CONTEMPT. For us on this this paper the award, and other recent actions of the Bretton Wood Institutions are nothing but part of a grand design to influence the outcome of the 2004 elections. If our conclusions are right, and we believe they are, then, we have an intruder in this year's elections.

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