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To borrow or not to borrow?

BY: Daily Graphic
 To borrow or not to borrow?
To borrow or not to borrow?

Since Ghana went to the Bretton Woods institutions – the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank—for succour in the early 1970s during the Busia era, and in the 1980s, during the PNDC’s Economic Recovery Programme (ERP), the country has continued its romance with the two institutions, albeit not without challenges as pertains in every relationship.

The two financial institutions led the charge when Ghana was in dire straits and also embarked on structural adjustment programmes in conjunction with the economic recovery programme, and by 1985, the economy had seen some signs of recovery.

Although attempts were made at divorce, the marriage between Ghana and the two institutions still continued and in the early months of the Atta Mills government, the country went back for funds which at the time were needed to deal with a budget deficit that reached 14.9 per cent of the nation’s annual output in 2008, and a currency which had dropped 14 per cent against the dollar.

Ghana received its highest funds yet and the biggest loan to an African nation since the start of the global financial crisis, which was a loan of more than $1 billion from the IMF to stabilise its economy.

Then Finance Minister, Dr Kwabena Duffuor, said the money would be used to bolster the reserves of the central bank and support the currency.

However, on assumption of office, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo declared his intention to wean Ghana off the IMF and the World Bank by trumpeting a ‘Ghana Beyond Aid’ mantra.

True to the President’s words, in 2018 Ghana got to its final year of the $918 million extended credit facility (ECF) signed with the IMF to fix the country’s economy, but the IMF said the April 2019 completion date for Ghana’s programme was largely dependent on the country meeting some critical targets during the mission review visit in September 2018.

The fund said the targets included structural reforms to strengthen public finances and fiscal discipline by improving budget transparency, cleaning up and controlling the payroll, right-sizing the civil service and improving revenue collection.

All that can be said to be history now as the Finance Minister, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, last Thursday briefed Parliament on Ghana’s successful completion of the IMF’s Extended Credit Facility.

Ghana’s successful completion of the ECF notwithstanding, many naysayers believe that the country’s exit is only temporary as has been the case on many occasions.

The Daily Graphic holds though that Ghana does not have to depend on the Bretton Woods institutions and donors to develop.

 While we are not against borrowing as that is sometimes necessary depending on the prevailing circumstances, we opine that we can do that sparingly and circumspectly without selling our birthright for a pottage.

Ghana’s economic woes have been deepened over the years because we depend so much on handouts from the West and we subject ourselves to all sorts of austere measures just to please those who hand us loans that come with very high interest rates such that we never finish paying up.

Ghana is blessed with vast arable lands, good weather, various minerals, oil, abundant food, cash crops and many more advantages that we can exploit to our benefit.

What we need as a country is the prudent management of our resources and adding of value to our produce before export, as well as developing our manufacturing industry so we don’t remain dependent on finished products from abroad.

 Above all, let us develop our human resource and we will do well as a country without aid.