Quick fixes bane of economy: Buck stops with leadership – Dr Twumasi Baffour

BY: Maxwell Akalaare Adombila
Dr Priscilla Twumasi Baffour, Senior Lecturer, Department of Economics, University of Ghana

GHANA’S leaders prefer quick fixes to the daunting economic challenges, resulting in the continuous resurrection of the problems after they have been window-dressed, an economist, Dr Priscilla Twumasi Baffour, has observed.

The Senior Lecturer at the University of Ghana Business School (UGBS) also questioned the commitment of leaders to the long-term development of the country, asking: “Are leaders committed to investing for long-term output when they are faced with short-term options in an election cycle?”

She said at the Graphic Business/Stanbic Bank breakfasting meeting last week in Accra that until aggressive and sustainable policies were used to tackle the perennial problems that revolved around high imports and low domestic production, the economy would continue to suffer cyclical challenges that required repeated support from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to resuscitate it.

Speaking on how to create a resilient economy independent of IMF support, Dr Baffour said it was sad that the country had visited the fund 17 times since independence for bailouts.

She explained that the data showed that Ghana resorted to the IMF every four years, a frequency she said was unbecoming of a nation blessed with human and natural resources.

With an 18th fund-assisted support now beckoning, Dr Baffour, who was the Chairperson of the event, said it was even more heartbreaking that nothing concrete had been done to build a resilient economy that could stand on its own.

"I believe the buck stops with leadership," the economic expert said at the pre-budget event.

Dr Baffour said it was curious that Ghana continued to survive on an import-dependent economy in spite of knowing the negative effects of same and having the capacity to develop a well diversified economy that was export-driven.

"Why have we not built aggressive resilience into the economy through import substitution industrialisation as we know that is the right thing?” she asked.

"It is sometimes shocking to look at the types of things that we use our hard-earned currency to import.

“The curious question is, do we know what we have to do?” she asked.

Import substitution

The senior lecturer of the UGBS said Ghana did not need to look far for results that would help turn the economy around.

Dr Baffour said the country was blessed with an array of talents who were succeeding internationally and they could be tapped to help turn the fortunes of the economy around if the public service needed additional support.

Beyond that, she said leadership was king.

“Although it is important to appeal to Ghanaians to patronise made-in-Ghana goods and build local industries because it is the way to go, I believe the buck stops with leadership.

“Why do I say so? Economic agents respond to incentives.

“If policy is used to restrict non-essential imports while at the same time promoting local production at competitive prices, people will respond by moving into production instead of importation to create jobs, ease pressure on the currency and generate growth and development for all.

“So more importantly, I ask again: Are leaders committed to going the long haul? Are leaders committed to investing for long-term output when they are faced with short-term options in an election cycle?” she asked.