...Over Per Capita Income Government and some of its development partners are kicking each other's feet over the actual figure of the country's per capita income.
During his encounter with the press on Tuesday, August 9 President Kufour categorically announced that the country's per capita income had leaped to $600 from $470 in 2004.
But many have disputed this figure. The President's own Finance and Economic Planning Minister, Kwadwo Baa-Wiredu could not confirm the figure.
"You see, when you look at the budget for the year 2005, nominal Gross Domestic Product (GDP) stands at about 97 trillion cedis. When you divide that figure, the 97 trillion cedis (sic) by the dollar-cedi equivalent of ¢9000.00 and divide the result by the sum of the population which is estimated at 20 million, you get a figure of around $530. So probably, the President's figure is correct," was how Hon. Baa-Wiredu put it, when Public Agenda pressed him to expatiate on the president's assertion.
Not convinced with his own answer, the minister proffered another explanation. "You see, we submit our figures to the IMF and World Bank every year. So I think when they looked at the value of our GDP, they (the IMF/WB sic) were convinced we have gone beyond the $470 figure brandied around."
The Information Minister, Hon. Dan Botwe, was not happy with the President's revelation too. "I would have been proud if we could gather our own data. But now that, that is not possible, we have to depend on the IMF and the World Bank," he said.
But the President's claim that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank were his sources for the $600 figure fell flat when Public Agenda contacted the World Bank's offices in Accra.
The paper's contact revealed that the current per capita income, which is accepted by all the country's development partners, is $380 and "until we see the new figure, we will continue to work with the $380." Public Agenda's own search on the Bank's website confirmed that as at July end 2005, real per capita income was $380.
"The GDP rate of 5.8% as stated in the 2005 budget would have to have changed significantly if the president's figure were true. You cannot have the per capita income rise to $600 and yet the GDP remains at 5.8%. That is not possible," was how an official at the World Bank put it.
Though the President had said the IMF and World Bank were his sources for the disputed per capita income figure, the bank and fund sources say the two institutions do not generate their own data. They rely basically on what national institutions such as the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) provide.
President Kufour confessed at his press conference that Ghana does not have the capacity to produce its own data on economic activities because the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) "is ill-equipped, under-resourced and lacks the capacity for the task," were the words of the president.
However, some members of the public are not amused.
The per capita statistic was not the only sad revealation.The President could not also tell members of the press how many Ghanaians were unemployed. This was when the President of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA), Miss AdjoaYeboah Afari, sought the president's view on what the unemployment rate was.
"In fact, we do not have the figures, but I can tell you, a lot of employment is being generated. The recent afforestation program has generated over 20,000 jobs. The public works, such as road construction, the President's Special Initiatives among others, have generated about 500,000 jobs and these are efforts by government to getting jobs for the people," was the President's response to Ms Adjoa's question,
He added that what was important to government was "what they were doing to create jobs, not whether there were figures or not."
At the moment the only credible sources of information on the economy are the Demographic and Health Survey (DHS; conducted in 1987, 1993, 1998 and 2003); the Core Welfare Indicators Questionnaire (CWIQ; 1987 and 2003); and the Ghana Living Standards Survey (GLSS; 1987/88, 1988/89, 1991/92 and 1998/99. The 2000 Population and Housing Census also provides some relevant information But how relevant and up to date these are to economic planning is anyone's guess.