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23.11.2019 Feature Article

2020 Budget Statement, A Document Of Political 419ners

2020 Budget Statement, A Document Of Political 419ners

Fellow Ghanaians, a government that robs Peter to pay Paul, according to George Bernard Shaw, can always rely on Paul for support. These are not the best times for our their country contrary to what the current government wants Ghanaians to believe in their very long but cos90 budget statement for the 2020 Financial Year.

For quite some time now, I have been reading the country's budget statements over the years like the Holy Qur'an. Out of curiosity, I have tried to find out how the New Patriotic Party, NPP, has been able to arrive at their economic growth that the National Democratic Congress, NDC under former President John Dramani Mahama, could not do. And I did it.

Trust me, my findings reveal that this so-called economic growth has nothing to do with the NPP government. It is simply an economic prophecy foretold by the International Monetary Fund, IMF, based on the economic body language of the global economic giants like the USA and the UK and China.

This government maybe competent but not about economic management. Rather, they are only competent in chasing political opponents; denying workers their salaries, allowances, and gratuities because of what they believe in politically, and anybody who disagrees with them should go to hell.

In this epistle, I wish to without PhD in economics expose in all its nakedness, the gargantuan deception and quantum hypocrisy embedded in the 2020 financial statement which climaxed the four years mandate of the governing party eloquently delivered by the Minister for Finance, Hon. Ken Ofori Atta, for all those who care about our country to see.

I am going to use the global economic outlook projections in 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016 budget statements under the National Democratic Congress, NDC administration, and compare the NDC's performance that was already being decided and dictated by the International Monetary Fund, IMF, to the global economic outlook projections in 2017, 2018, 2019, and what Ghanaians should expect in 2020 budget statements under the New Patriotic Party, NPP, current government. So that I can point out why the NPP administration has been able to come by their economic growth.

The aim is to expose what's behind the so-called competence of the current government.

I would also use projected Inflation rates, Commodity Prices, in those years' (2013, 2014, 2015, 2016) budget statements under the NDC, as against 2017, 2018, 2019, and the yet to unfold 2020 financial Year.

Before I do just that there's this classic fable of dishonesty I chanced upon entitled: "Ali Baba and the Angel" which I think has a correlation with the modern-day political buccaneering and profiteering championed by our country's economic managers.

Ali Baba was regarded as a revered demagogue in his time, and when he spoke all ears cocked like many of our politicians today. He never missed the opportunity to exploit his people's greed. You may call him the DKM or Menzgold of his time.

One day, Ali Baba lied to his village folks that he had a dream and an Angel was to visit him. So, everyone should prepare to meet his visiting Angel.

According to him only those with sound and pure hearts (sinless) people could see the Angel. Those with impure hearts could not see him. Quickly, the story spread beyond leaps and bounds and everyone in the village, from among royalties, politicians, the aristocrats, the bourgeois, and the commoners, all gathered and formed a long crowded queue to see the Angel in Ali Baba's Hut. Meanwhile, Ali Baba only hung a shirt at the backrest of a chair and placed a pair of sandals in front of it.

Everyone was to pay some reasonable amount of money in order to behold the Angel.

The Chief of the village was the first person to pay and enter Ali Baba's hut.

When he got inside he only found a pair of sandals and a shirt hung on the chair but he could not declare his vision. So he exclaimed with false joy: "it is wonderful when you have a pure heart my people! I saw the most beautiful creature I've ever seen. A handsome Angel indeed." The Chief lied to his people and left because he didn't want the people he's leading to know he has no pure heart after all as their leader.

One after the other, the entire village lied they saw the Angel after paying money to Ali Baba to see the non-existant Angel.

This is a clear cut example of what is going on between us and our leaders.

The so-called economic growth of the current administration needs a thorough scrutiny. And a careful look at it seems a clear case of Ali Baba's dream about a visiting Angel, and none but those with "pure hearts" in government cycles can feel the competence and substance in their economic management.

Isn't it mind-boggling that immediately the Akufu Addo government was sworn into office the economy suddenly started growing before parliament could even finish vetting the government's appointees? Unless we decide to be unfaithful to facts, just like the economy, the day candidate Akufu Addo was declared winner of the 2016 general elections, "DumSor" magically disappeared.

What! How? Why?
Fellow Ghanaians, let us not become the folks of Ali Baba's village who didn't see his Angel but for fear of being accused of impurity and unsoundness of heart, lied to their conscience.

In fact, the wonderment and lamentations alone that have characterized the three years of governance under the NPP, is enough to consign to the dust bin where it belongs, the claim of competence under this current government. Let's not be fooled by a modern-day Ali Baba.

In the log-free eye of the government, Ghanaians must rejoice because better change has come with a so-called economic growth of 7% in three years as a result of competent management of the economy. However, this is nothing more than a vainglorious attempt to throw dust in the eyes of Ghanaians. And as we know, an empty stomach is not a good political adviser, according to Albert Einstein.

I would tell you in a jiffy where the figures are forged from, and not by virtue of any competence.

With goods and services placed above the reach of the ordinary Ghanaian, no amount of cooked up figures in terms of economic growth can soothe the economic realities and pain of the common man.

Because, in the last thirty-two months, Ghanaians have realized that only the family and friends and some party "Food-soldiers" of the current administration are being fed manna till some of them want it no more, the rest of us can go to hell. No wonder a whopping amount of six(6) million cedis have been allocated to party communicators in this shambolic budget the government presented before parliament.

You see, like joke, like joke, the National debt stock has hit 208 billion in just thirty-three months into the forty-eight months or four years mandate of the New Patriotic Party, NPP, under the stewardship of President Akufu Addo. Over 90 billion cedis have been borrowed and added to the National Debt Profile. What it means is that, if such a colossal sum of money were to be distributed among the thirty (30) million Ghanaians, each Ghanaian, rich or poor, king or subject, old or young, parent or ward, able or disabled, every Ghanaian would have been entitled to an amount of three thousand Ghana Cedis (GH¢3000).

Now, to my Ghanaian reader, don't be flabbergasted, close your mouth and reflect on your life in the last thirty-two months: Has this amount (3000) you were supposed to receive from government, had the government shared this 90 billion it has borrowed on your behalf been distributed among Ghanaians? In other words, in the last three years, have you as a citizen of this country called Ghana, felt the presence of three thousand cedis (GH¢3000) in your life as a dashed money? Don't you feel shortchanged seeing what the government is spending that money on your behalf? What impact has it brought you?

Finding answers to these numerous questions, the average Ghanaian can realize that this current government is less than competent. In fact, more of a liability than an asset.

That is just by the way. Now, let's look at where their economic growth is coming from. It is just a mere coincidence, not competence. And by coincidence I meant were your dog that became the president of Ghana in 2017 till now, it would have also achieved this economic growth the NPP government is bragging about. Apuu!

It is simple. Whenever the economies of the global economic players such as the USA, UK (Europe), China, Japan, etc. are experiencing positive economic indicators, the growth of various countries across the rest of the world, including those of the sub-Sahara, also experience bright economy.

So, even if Ghanaians place a fool or a mad man at the helm of their affairs as a president, the economy is most likely going to experience a revamp once these countries' economies are appreciably positive.

And my thesis is not farfetched.
The economic meltdown under the NDC, was largely because of some challenges the global economic giants like the USA, UK (Europe), Japan and China etc. negatively experienced and dictated same to the rest of the world. In the last seven financial years, especially, when His Excellency John Dramani Mahama took over office as president in 2013, two or more of these economic giants had suffered one economic challenge or the other. This unfortunate economic turmoil not by President Mahama's making had a serious toll on the NDC administration.

When the NPP came to power in 2017 however, the story became the contrary. Majority of these global economic giants' challenges began to evaporate and the turnaround began to happen. This phenomenon is captured under the Global Economic Outlook in the section Two of all this years' budget statements (2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, and the 2020 budgets).

In the 2017 Financial year for example, when the NPP freshly took over power, the Finance Minister expressed optimism in the Global Economic Outlook.

In paragraph 25, the Finance Minister said "Mr. Speaker, according to the January 2017 update of the IMF’s World Economic Outlook (WEO), global economic growth in 2016 was reported to have DECLINED marginally to 3.1 percent compared to the 2015 outturn of 3.2 percent. This is mainly attributed to a SLOWDOWN in economic activity in the US, China as well as the contagion effects of the anticipated negative macroeconomic consequence of the Brexit vote."

In paragraph 29. he said "Mr. Speaker, the REBOUND in commodities prices INCREASED global inflation in the latter part of 2016. Headline inflation INCREASED slightly in advanced economies, but core inflation rates were largely unchanged. The January 2017 WEO update, estimates inflation rates for advanced and Emerging Markets and Developing Economies in 2016 at 0.7 and 4.5 percent respectively."

He continued in paragraph 31, "Mr. Speaker, the global economy is expected to witness some IMPROVEMENT in GROWTH in 2017 and the medium term after a LACKLUSTER performance in 2016.

Growth is expected to improve marginally to 3.4 percent in 2017 and FURTHER INCH up to 3.6 percent in 2018, due mainly to OPTIMISTIC OUTLOOK in ADVANCED ECONOMIES for 2017-2018, OCCASIONED by an EXPECTED fiscal stimulus in the UNITED STATES."

In paragraph 32, the Finance Minister revealed that "In advanced economies, growth is expected to hit 1.8 percent in 2017 before increasing to 1.9 percent in 2018. The rates for Emerging Markets and Developing Economies are estimated at 4.5 percent in 2017 and 4.8 percent for 2018. The January 2017 edition of the Global Economic Prospects projects a 4.2 percent growth for emerging markets and developing economies in 2017, MAINLY DRIVEN by a RECOVERY in COMMODITY EXPORTS, reflecting a gradual increase in commodity prices.

In paragraph 33, "The Sub-Saharan Africa region is projected to grow by 2.8 percent in 2017 and improve further by 0.9 percentage points to 3.7 percent in 2018.

Inflation Outlook
On Inflation, paragraph 34 of the 2017 budget said "Mr. Speaker, the January 2017 WEO update, estimates inflation rate at 1.7 percent in 2017 and 1.9 percent in 2018 for advanced economies.

For Emerging Markets and Developing Economies, inflation is estimated to peak at 4.5 percent

in 2017 before DECREASING slightly to 4.4 percent for 2018."

That was the year the NPP government was midwifed. And suddenly the global economic curse that held the NDC administration by the jugular, turned into a blessing, hence the economic achievement they claimed they have achieved despite their economy being fraught with unfortunate borrowing and unbelievable cedi depreciation.

Why is it that the cedi continues to depreciate, worse than it depreciated under Mahama and they cannot competently stabilize that one but can grow an economy by almost 7% in three years?

Now, let's compare this global economic good news the NPP were welcome with with what greeted the NDC when president Mahama came into office to begin his own term as president in 2013.

Beginning with paragraph 29 under the Global Economic Outlook projections, the Finance Minister said in 2013 "Mr. Speaker, following four years of WEAK and UNEVEN recovery from the global financial crisis, the global economy remains SUSCEPTIBLE to another ECONOMIC DOWNTURN stemming from the lingering EURO ZONE CRISIS, the CHALLENGES in dealing with the US FISCAL CRISIS, and LOW output growth in Japan."

He continued in paragraph 35, "Mr. Speaker, in emerging markets and developing economies, the SPILLOVER EFFECTS of the problems of the advanced economies combined with internal problems to hold back growth by LOWERING COMMODITY PRICES."

Paragraph 39 said that "The overall estimate of global inflation for 2013 could have significant variation, either upward or downward DEPENDING on how the sovereign DEBT CRISIS in the EURO ZONE and the U.S. fiscal and debt ceiling negotiations are managed. Shocks to global petroleum and food supplies might also result in variations from the predicted inflation level for 2013."

So, if you compare the economic turnaround in the global front under the NDC, and consider the role those global economic giants played in the economy of emerging economies and taking into account their challenges at the time the NDC was in power, you don't need Vice President Dr. Bawumia to tell you things must have been tough for the Mahama administration vis-a-vis the economy the Veep is managing now.

This case of enormous global economic nosedive under the NDC throughout their administration beginning with 2013 up till 2016, and the appreciation and disappearance of these economic challenges in 2017 when the NPP came into office, is what made the difference. It's not the NPP that is competent. Any political party could have achieved the same economic feat in government.

I task my reader with humility and respect to make his own comparison with the rest of the economic realities and challenges dictated by the global economic giants (in the section Two of the rest of the financial years, 2014, 2015, and 2016 budget statements under the Global Economic Outlook) that characterized the NDC government under President John D. Mahama with the NPP's.

The reader should endeavor to compare these challenges the global economic players suffered and posted on the NDC government and the rest of the world, with the positive changes and revamp these global giants began to experience in 2017 downwards.

It is not for a joke that economists often say "if USA, or the UK, or China 'sneezes', the rest of the world catches cold.

Under the NDC beginning in 2013, these economic giant countries didn't only sneeze. They "coughed", "sneezed", and even cried!

Fellow Ghanaians, if the economy is either growing or shrinking is due to these predictions as we have seen in the above comparisons, what moral authority does the governing party have to claim credit for our economic growth?

Again, if the social intervention programs they have borrowed money (90 billion) to embark upon should be the reason why Ghanaians must applaud them, what shall it profit a man to borrow money to spend on delicacies, luxury cars, nice apartments, beautiful women, just for the attention of people when Nsawam prison would be his final abode when the time comes?

Never borrow money to buy V8. Though people would talk about you, you're a loser in the end.

Long Live Ghana,
God Bless us all.
The Writer, Iddrisu Abdul Hakeem, is a MasterCard Foundation Scholar (Alumnus) At KNUST.

Contact: 0557762967 (Text Messages Only)

Iddrisu ABDUL HAKEEM, © 2019

The author has 31 publications published on Modern Ghana. Column Page: IddrisuABDULHAKEEM

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