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When leaders take ‘citizens for spectators’

BY: Bernard Kwofie
Picture credit: Shutterstock
Picture credit: Shutterstock

Globally, there is much uncertainty. The US for example recorded 7.5 per cent rise in prices in January 2022 from 2021. According to analysts and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this is the highest level to hit America in 40 years.

With no permanent solution in sight to COVID-19, which has crippled many economies, the war in Ukraine has further stretched global economies and questioned leadership across disciplines and democracies.

In some African countries, poor economic conditions have resulted in their inability to honour their debt obligations.

Consequently, there have been reports of the taking over of state assets, including airports and national electricity companies by foreign governments.

In Ghana, the economy has seen the cedi deprecate by 14.5 per cent to the dollar, with frequent fuel price hikes.

The country’s public debt increased to ¢351bn in December 2021; with a corresponding debt-to-GDP ratio of 80.1 per cent.

As bad as it is, government is confronted with going to the IMF, and in an attempt to address the situation the, Cabinet held an emergency meeting at the Peduase Lodge, which was followed by the finance minister’s address, the President’s 2022 State of the Nation address and

Vice-President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia’s public lecture during the TESCON congress.

Pass

The government has found a way to pass the E-Levy and resorted to lean spending by its officials as a means to avoid retuning to the IMF; notwithstanding the proposals put forward by persons and institutions that sought to be citizens.

Among others, the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) in a statement suggested measures to include working to splitting the E-Levy rate of I.75 per cent between telcos (I .0%) and consumers (0.75%).

A former rector of the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA) and Chairperson of the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC), Professor Stephen Adei, proposed a 25 per cent cut in expenditure and a review of the Free SHS policy.

Dr Obed Asamoah, a former Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, suggested a bailout from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) was the way to go to get Ghana out of its current economic state.

Professor Ransford Gyampo, Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Ghana, made a nine-point clear proposal to cut government expenditure in order to garner support from the citizenry.

Professor Peter Quartey of the Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER) suggested the review of some government flagship programmes.

Citizens for Citizens

In the face of these challenges, many have criticised the disposition of government that is not reflective of leadership which is cognisant of the dire economic crisis in the country.

To quote Mr John Awuah, Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Association of Bankers, ‘‘when you’re in crisis, the tone that you set is critical.’’

It should be clear by now that this is not the time for political leadership to rely on old experts, but outside expertise.

As recorded in the good old book, in the multitude of counsel, there is safety.

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