A former Minister of Finance, Professor Kwesi Botchwey, has suggested the need for concrete steps to be taken to save the country’s current economic situation, which is “perilously heading towards the early 1980s when the economy was relatively in crisis”.
Among some of the steps he has suggested to be taken is freeing the economy from increasing public debts to enable the government to pay for and meet the nation's social obligations.
He also reiterated the need for a thorough review of all sources of pressure in the budget, including flagship programmes and their sustainability and impact, as well as resist the lure of solutions that would further mortgage the future of young generations to come, such as collateralising public revenue streams.
Prof. Botchwey gave made the suggestion when he delivered the keynote address at the launch of a book titled: “The Children of House No. D13 South Suntresu, Kumasi" at the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences in Accra last Tuesday.
The 471-page book, published by Digibooks Ghana Limited, is the collective biography of the Ahwoi and the Adu-Gyamfi siblings.
It was co-authored by Ato, Kwesi and Prof. Kwamena Ahwoi, Mrs Ama Twum, Mrs Ama Adoma Bartels-Kodwo, Mrs Efua Bram-Larbi and Mrs Agnes Appiagyei-Dankah, all siblings.
The former Finance Minister, who is also the Juantuahene of Agona Asafo in the Central Region, pointed out that the Provisional National Defence Council had (PNDC) inherited an economy which was already in bad shape.
However, he said, the PNDC left a legacy of “dismantling the old, unworkable economy that was state managed and controlled and created the new market-determined economy that we have today, which must be sustained".
But, sadly, he said: “we don't appear to have learnt our lessons and we are now moving so perilously close to the edge of the precipice where we were in the early 1980s".
Prof. Botchwey took the audience through the era when the Ahwois played significant roles in formulating economic and educational policies, as well as legal frameworks, to help address various challenges faced by the PNDC under the late former President Jerry John Rawlings.
“Then comes the role of the Ahwoi brothers, particularly Ato, Kwesi and Kwamena, securing the legal architecture
working with the PNDC secretariat, but with Ato especially and his role in forging economic management policy; when you read the book you don’t get the sense of the severity of the economic crisis we inherited," Prof. Botchwey observed.
Value of the book
However, the former Finance Minister said, it was important to mention the fact that the book echoed the various interventions introduced during the PNDC era to salvage the economy.
“So the value of the book goes beyond the anecdotes that are incredibly delightful. You will understand them better when you get the full context in which those initiatives and interventions were launched," he said.
Those initiatives embarked upon to address the economic crisis in the 1980s, he explained, included engagements with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the withdrawal of the 50 cedi notes as a way of checking corruption among the business class, as well as increasing money supply and other interventions.
Reviewing the book, a consultant in communications, media and culture, Nana Kwasi Gyan-Apenteng, said it told the story of the Ahwoi and Adu-Gyamfi siblings in a coordinated manner, with abundant humour.
It also talked about both the tragedy and the triumph of the siblings and showed the remarkable togetherness and mutual support system that enabled the children of House No. D13, South Suntresu, Kumasi to overcome the many hurdles along their individual paths in life, he said.
Nana Gyan-Apenteng, who is the Apagyahene of Akyem Ati and former Chairman of the National Media Commission, mentioned in particular the role played by Maye Charlotte Hudson (Mrs Ahwoi), the mother of the Ahwoi and Adu-Gyamfi siblings.
He said she was very instrumental in the success story of the eight siblings, although one of them, Theodora Naana Adu-Gyamfi, passed away at the age of 28.
“It is not every book project that produces a good book, but this book has done so because at the heart of the project is a good story,” the former President of the Ghana Association of Writers noted.
Launching the book, the Executive Chairman of the Jospong Group of Companies, Dr Joseph Siaw-Agyepong, commended the Ahwois for the positive impact they had made in the lives of businessmen.
He said he had personally benefited from the benevolence of the Ahwois, saying their role in creating an enabling environment for businesses to flourish could not be over-emphasised.
Dr Siaw-Agyepong bought the first copy of the book for GH¢50,000.
The first four copies were sold for GH¢250,000.
The Ahwoi and Adu-Gyamfi Siblings’ Collective Biography is a collection of the life stories of the eight children of Madam Hudson, also known as Esi Tutuwa, but known to some people as Esi Nkwagye and to the people of South Suntresu, Kumasi as Mrs Ahwoi.
The 'Ahwois’ is the collective name of three brothers - Ato, Kwesi and Kwamena - who have played prominent roles in Ghana's recent history, but the siblings also include five girls - Ama, Adoma, Efua, Naana (deceased) and Aggie - who also played their part in the thrilling story in their own unique ways.