Former President John Mahama’s alarm that Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, has been criminally presenting a false report on the economy just to make the Akufo-Addo government look good, has been dug up from the archives.
It is dawning on disenchanted Ghanaians, particularly on social media that the current hardships facing the country are not the making of the coronavirus pandemic as the government would have people believe, but what former President Mahama calls “criminal subterfuge” by the government.
“We are facing the worst economic situation, in the entire history of the Fourth Republic. The economy has never been this bad, and you see, when you have a hole and you are hiding it, eventually when reality catches up, you will find that that hole will be exposed. There’s been a hole in this economy, and I kept saying it, this is not the first time I’m saying it. The Finance Minister who is the cousin of the President has been cooking the books since 2017,” Mr. Mahama had told Mr. Kwesi Pratt Jnr, Editor of the Insight newspaper in an interview.
According to him, one of the ways Ofori-Atta has been going about the subterfuge is that when he is presenting the budget, he intentionally leaves the country’s liabilities and presents them as footnotes in the budget statement.
This way, the liabilities are easily glossed over by persons who do not take time to read between the lines and the government keeps looking good.
“It’s the first time we are having this strange presentation of the Budget. Our budget numbers from 1992 to date are the budget numbers for everybody; for Parliament, for international donor organizations, for everybody and those are the numbers that are presented to the world, This Finance Minister comes and he has liabilities, big ones, instead of calculating them and putting them in the budget, he brings them to the bottom and puts them as footnotes,” Mahama had alerted.
He also pointed out the energy sector debt that the Akufo Addo administration had owed for a long time and has been attributed to the ongoing electricity crisis.
“The energy sector debt, today he owes the independent power producers alone, US$1.5billion. Those are the figures he has now put in the budget that are showing the kinds of numbers that are and so he is engaged in subterfuge, sometimes very criminal subterfuge,” the former president said.
Ghana’s COVID-19 struck in March 2020, however, since 2018 and 2019, the economic indices had looked bad for the Akufo Addo administration and had only been saved from embarrassment by Ofori-Atta’s cunning massaging of figures, critics ad Mahama have pointed out.
“In 2019, they didn’t meet the domestic target, you know what Ofori-Atta did? he made GRA borrow money from Commercial banks and presented it and said we met the revenue target. So when coronavirus struck, the Commercial banks have been deducting the loans that they gave to show good figures in 2019 , that’s why the economy is worst than it is because any revenue that comes the Commercial banks are taking their money back,” Mahama explained.
“I left him US$300million in the stabilization Fund, for a day such as this when corona strikes, I left him US$270million in the Sinking Fund so that when the Kufuor Eurobond become due there will be money to pay for it, I left him US$270million in the Ghana Infrastructure Investment Fund, I left him two new oil fields, revenue from two new oil fields. All the development that I did in my four years as President was with only the Jubilee Field, one oil field, and even with the one oil field there was a problem with the FPSO turret and so they had to reduce production and so he got five time more oil revenue than I got and yet what is there to show for it, virtually nothing,” he said.
The Akufo-Addo government is currently under fire from disenchanted Ghanaians who are demanding that it fixes the economy and stops giving excuses.
In response, the government has used the Police and the courts to prevent people from pouring into the streets to protest hardships in the country.