A former Director of Finance at the Ministry of Finance, Dr George Sipa Adja Yankey, has underscored the need for a major national conversation to achieve consensus on national development issues for the rapid and sustainable growth of the Ghanaian economy.
It looked as if national policies and conversation were being designed by a few people without involving the larger stakeholders, he told the Daily Graphic in Accra last Friday.
The Daily Graphic had elicited his views on the performance of the economy and proposals to grow the economy and make the growth relevant to the people.
Dr Yankey, who was the Chief Executive Officer of Ghana Gas in the Mahama administration, called on the two dominant political parties – the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) - to lead the national conversation on issues to accelerate the pace of development in the country.
“It bothers me to observe that in this country discussions, particularly on our radio and television, are centred on insults, a situation which does not yield positive results for the country. The time has come for national discussions not to be characterised by attacks, political antagonism and insults but should provide a fertile ground for consultation, consensus building and national development,” he said.
According to Dr Yankey, the current challenges confronting the national economy might linger on in 2019 and beyond unless bold and innovative measures were considered, designed and implemented by the government without further delay, adding that in so doing, the national interest must prevail over any other consideration.
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In his view, the approach to solving the problem associated with the Ghanaian economy must be a double strategy that would focus on and manage both the macro-economy and the real economy and not just concentrate on the macro-economy and deal with the real economy half-heartedly.
He mentioned the real economy as agriculture, manufacturing, financial and insurance activities and construction, adding that “if we pay particular attention to these key priority sectors through facilitation and the provision of infrastructure, it will inure to the rapid development of the country and provide massive jobs for the teeming unemployed Ghanaian youth”.
Dr Yankey stressed the need to redefine the role of state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and use the national procurement regime, among others, to develop national indigenous champions.
“The state, being the largest procurer of goods and services, can develop initiatives to develop big conglomerates in both the private and the public sectors to compete globally,” he stated.
To buttress his point, he cited the United States (US) where Lockheed Martin, Boeing, General Electric (GE), among others, grew out of US military contracts.
In his review of macro-economic indicators, such as GDP growth rate, inflation and the national income, for 2017 and 2018, Dr Yankey commended the NPP government for the 2017 and 2018 macro-economic performance.
But he was quick to add that those were the fruits of the work that was undertaken by the Mahama administration in the years preceding 2017.
“So while I do not have any problem with the NPP government claiming the credit, they should be honourable to acknowledge the contribution by the Mahama administration,” he said.
While it was important to continue to work on the macro-economy, Dr Yankey said, it had now become critical, considering the level of unemployment and other challenges facing the economy, to give equal attention to the real economy, which was the part of the economy concerned with the actual production of goods and services, contrasted with the paper economy or that part of the economy that was concerned with buying and selling on the financial market.
“The real economy touches directly on the lives of the people,” he argued.
Dr Yankey, therefore, stressed the need for the government to give concrete support to sectors such as agriculture, industry, manufacturing, construction and the financial sector, especially the banking and the insurance sub-sectors.
“These sectors and sub-sectors touch the lives of the people and their performance must be of interest to the managers of the economy,” he further argued.
He said the reason the country was not able to maintain and sustain growth was that the real economy had not been given enough attention to support the macro-economy.
“If you restrict money in circulation, cut government expenditure, are not manufacturing and not providing industrial infrastructure to support industry and agriculture, you certainly will have a situation where every government achieves a single digit inflation within its first two years in government but ends up having increasing inflation,” he said.
Dr Yankey is a former Director of Finance at the Ministry of Finance, former National Co-ordinator for the Ghana Trade and Investment Gateway Programme and former President of the ECOWAS Investment Development Bank.
He is currently consulting for global companies on clean energy.
He has a doctorate degree in investment law.