A former Deputy Information Minister, Felix Kwakye Ofosu, says the upgrade of Ghana’s economic outlook to B from B-, has no bearing on the lives of Ghanaians who are enduring various forms of hardships under the 20-months old Akufo-Addo presidency.
He said the rating does not comfort Ghanaians in any way, and thus charged government to put measures in place to turn things around as promised prior to the 2016 general elections.
“The Standard & Poor’s rating comes as cold comfort for Ghanaians who are reeling under severe economic hardships at a time where the cedi has taken a very steep nose dive and is depreciating at an alarming rate against the US dollar. The last thing on the minds of Ghanaians is our ratings,” he said in an interview with citinewsroom.com.
The former Deputy Minister said what the millions of Ghanaians expect now is a set of policies from the Akufo-Addo government “to arrest the cedi and stop it from further decline” against major trading currencies especially the US dollar.
“This is especially against the background where the cedi’s depreciation has led to high increases in petroleum products and in goods and services generally. What the government should be fronting are the measures that they have adopted to arrest the cedi decline,” he added.
Kwakye Ofosu made the remark on the back of a recent upgrade of Ghana’s economic outlook from B- to B by international credit rating firm, Standard & Poor’s.
The international firm said it made the upgrade following “improved monetary policy effectiveness” and stable economic outlook.
S&P said its upgrade of Ghana’s rating reflects its assessment that “Ghana’s monetary policy effectiveness has improved, albeit from a low base, and will support the credibility of the inflation-targeting framework over the period.”
Although government has welcomed the rating, Kwakye Ofosu said it does not reflect what is happening on the ground.
“There are extreme difficulties on the ground. Importers have been lamenting about the astronomical increases in the levies they pay when they want to clear their goods from the ports. The recently introduced luxury cars tax is further burdening the public. Other tax measures have ensured that Ghanaians are paying far more today than they were paying in the past. These are some of the things adversely affecting Ghanaians.”
“I expect that the issues that bother Ghanaians are those that are on top of the agenda of the Akufo-Addo administration and not some ratings that does not have any bearing on the livelihoods of Ghanaians,” he added.
Politics over economy
This comes on the back of concerns raised by the Minority over the Ghanaian economy which they claimed had not performed any better.
Ghana’s currency is struggling to be at par with major trading currencies especially the US dollar.
Some economists, members of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) and many Ghanaians, have criticized the government for failing to fix the cedi’s fall, and also deal with its general impact on the larger economy.
But the Vice President, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, who is also the head of government’s economic management team said the economy has performed well.
Dr. Bawumia largely blamed the cedi’s depreciation on the strength of the US dollar, saying other currencies like the pounds were also struggling against the US dollar.
“You look at the economic growth, you look at the interest rates, you look at inflation, you look at the deficit, you look at the external accounts, you look at the gross international reserves and you look at the debt to GDP ratio, all these fundamentals indicate that Ghana’s economy is getting stronger fundamentally.”
Accept reality, apologize for falling cedi – Ato Forson
The Minority Spokesperson on Finance, Cassiel Ato Forson, subsequently criticized the Vice President, Mahamudu Bawumia over the current state of the Ghanaian economy urging him to apologize for the inability of the NPP to revive the economy.
Mr. Ato Forson said reality has now dawned on the governing New Patriotic Party.
“He is now accepting that there are exogenous and external shocks that you can do nothing about? Is he now accepting that point and has he not been exposed as he speaks?”