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Prosecute BoG officials over cedi depreciation?

BY: James Ahwireng Odei
Dr Ernest Addison, Governor of the Bank of Ghana
Dr Ernest Addison, Governor of the Bank of Ghana

Thanks, Dr Baiden, for providing a topic we can all discuss as Ghanaians. The topic is so broad and deep that I can only scratch the surface and leave the rest for the experts in Economics, Finance, Law and perhaps Economic History to digest.

I read from the Daily Graphic issue of June 1, 2022, that a petition has been sent to the Attorney-General “to prosecute the Governor of the Bank of Ghana and other top officials of the bank over the sharp fall in the value of the Ghana Cedi”.

Criminality?

My understanding of the word “prosecute” suggests that the acts or omissions of BoG are clothed with some criminality.

My little search from the 1992 Constitution and the Bank of Ghana Act, 2002 (Act 612) did not establish that.

Unless the word prosecute connotes something else from another legislation it would be safe for me to conclude that no offence was created by Article 183 and/or 184 of the Constitution and the Bank of Ghana Act.

An old Latin expression states that “Nullum crimen sine lege” – No crime without a law.

A person cannot or should not face criminal punishment except for an act that was criminalised by law before he/she performed the act.

May we consider criminalising ‘under-performance or perhaps complete non-performance’ by public institutions even where their statutes do not make provision for them?

Over the years, legislators have been careful in crafting and construing what amounts to criminal acts. Let us consider the combined effect of Sections 4 & 5 of the Criminal Offences Act, 1960 (ACT29). We may be able to make some deductions from there.

Depreciating cedi

I agree with you to some extent, Dr Baiden that “The Cedi depreciation is not abating.” But what has the BoG failed or omitted to do which has resulted in this free-fall of the cedi?

BoG has, over the years, put in place various policies to strengthen and stabilise the cedi.

In a message granted to Ghanaians available on GhanaWeb, the First Deputy Governor of the Bank, Dr Maxwell Opoku Afari, stated that the Central Bank would not hesitate to implement additional measures aimed at stabilising the Ghana cedi.

Fixed Exchange Rate

One of the recommendations put forward by Dr Baiden “was for the bank to move away from the free-floating regime and adopt the law of one price… which allows a country to peg its currency to that of a foreign country such as the dollar”

That may be a good option provided the economic and political conditions of the day pertaining to Ghana and the world can support that policy.

Let us not forget that Ghana adopted this policy on two occasions. Between 1974 and 1977 (both years inclusive) the exchange rate was one dollar=GH¢ 1.15; and between 1979 and 1982 the rate was one dollar=GH¢2.75.

This policy enabled the government and businesses to plan and make budgets with a considerable amount of certainty.

Can Ghana succeed in this policy today in the present world economy and political situation? I leave this matter to knowledgeable economists, financial experts and others to comment on.

The writer is a legal practitioner. E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.