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Feature Article | Apr 8, 2019

Nppnomics and Ndcnomics: The take of a citizen without an economics PhD.

Nppnomics and Ndcnomics: The take of a citizen without an economics PhD.

Government organized a town hall meeting to bring governance closer to the doorstep of the governed in the name of good governance and accountability. However, it didn’t only morph into an economic lecture, but it became an NPP rally ground. A rally ground void of the brandishing of party paraphernalia. The keynote speaker was the vice president, the economic poster boy. He announced the significant reduction of import duties much to the delight of the businessman at the port waiting to clear his goods with a plummeting Ghanaian cedi. This announcement won him a standing ovation like an awardee artist at the Grammy. I wonder why he didn’t realize the contradiction he committed on the depreciation of the cedi. Perhaps his attention was drawn to it by the finance minister whose head was bow down at the material moment of contradiction. And despite being a front-bencher, the second lady did not signal at her Alhaji by winking an eye. Let’s call it oversight!

An economic lecture begets an economic lecture. The opposition NDC reacted with a public lecture. As usual, the politics of ‘it was here and we took it here’ prevailed. They think the NPP government has no coequal in borrowing. Hitherto cedi bonds, thither to Eurobonds. They believe government has the most unbridled appetite for borrowing. Not only this, but they also averred that government is mortgaging the future of the unborn Ghanaian generation as well as establishing nothing to show the unborn generation why their future was mortgaged. They claimed government has not constructed even a culvert with the borrowed funds. The politics of cedi depreciation featured prominently. A lot of figures were churned out seeking to buttress their position that the economy was in catch-22. Even when the chairman of the economic management team is a polymath-being an IT expert and an economist. The vice president is determined to digitize everything. He doesn’t care whether the fundamentals are strong or not because no matter how you try strengthening your fundamentals, you have not the forte to obviate the negative effects of external factors. And surprisingly, he discovered this finding in government unlike in opposition.

Beyond the bandying of macroeconomics data and figures, what does the unlettered woman in Kpatinga expects? Her main concern is transporting her farm produce from her village to the city for timely sale. She wants to have a good market for her produce. She likes to feel it rather being told. When something is real, you don’t need someone to describe it to you. It would gladden her heart to have the road from his village to Tamale bituminize. She doesn’t want to feel backache whenever she travels to Tamale just like someone from WaleWale. This is sacrosanct-her village may be yet to produce ‘Kpatinga Adam Smith’ but he pays taxes to the government that the ‘WaleWale Adam Smith’ is part of and delivering lectures periodically. Besides, EC officials never forget to send electoral materials there on every election day.

I don’t know how convincing it would be to tell the unlettered man who used to buy the dollar at say 4.80pesewas that buying the same dollar at say 5.37pesewas is the greatest height of improvement the Ghanaian economy has ever witnessed. This can only be possible after you have paid the 0.57cedis difference. And the reality is that, he would not understand the percentage of the rate of depreciation. What is good about the lowest rate of cedi depreciation when he has to pay 57pesewas more to buy the dollar to import goods? What is good about it when it is weakening the purchasing power in his possession? Commonsensical economics would reveal that recording the slowest rate of cedi depreciation is a nonstarter to the businessman at Tamale magazine who has to gather more cedis to mount a search for few dollars. Need I elaborate on the domino effect of only this? The businessman factors it into the cost of the imported good and passes it on to the buyer at an exorbitant price. If you want to learn real economics devoid of shenanigans and innuendos, go to any market woman. They are the holders of PhDs in “reality economics”. They don’t confuse you with curves about how the economy has been leapfrogging the U.S economy, they tell you how they used not to sit whenever when they come to sell because of the presence of many buyers and how now they idle and eventually packed home.

This notwithstanding, a clique of condescending economists would still muster the courage to tell the unlettered Ghanaian that his country is now worldly heaven. Not only lowest inflation rate is not edible, but every other macroeconomic data is not also edible. Boasting of an economy with strong fundamentals is meaningless until the market woman can confirm in toto that the fundamentals are really strong in reality.

Alhassan Andani Alhassan
Alhassan Andani Alhassan, © 2019

This author has authored 22 publications on Modern Ghana.
Author column: AlhassanAndaniAlhassan

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