‘Public debt challenge to Ghana Beyond Aid’

BY: Caroline Boateng
Professor Kwasi Prempeh (4th right), the Executive Director of the CDD-Ghana, speaking at the discussion.
Professor Kwasi Prempeh (4th right), the Executive Director of the CDD-Ghana, speaking at the discussion.

Ghana’s public debt makes the intentions of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo for a Ghana Beyond Aid a daunting one.

Currently, the country spends 40 per cent of what it collects in tax revenues to service its debt.

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That leaves little or no money at all for capital expenditure, that is investments to sustain economic growth.

These submissions were made by the Head of Programmes at the Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS), Mr Nicholas De-Heer, who warned that Ghana Beyond Aid was a reality and not a policy choice.

He said Ghana Beyond Aid was bound to be the reality of the country soon, even as some bilateral partners set timelines to withdraw their support with the country attaining middle income status.


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He was contributing to a stakeholder meeting on framing the “Ghana Beyond Aid” agenda, organised by the Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana) last Wednesday, on the broader theme, “Ghana Beyond Aid: Moving from vision to action.”

Although, he said it was daunting, he was, however, happy about the dialogue, initiated by CDD as part of activities commemorating its 20th anniversary.

Mr De-Heer also expressed worry about the country’s domestic revenue mobilisation, saying that it was the lowest in the sub-region.

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“I think that is an area we have to pay attention to if we are going to make Ghana Beyond Aid happen,” he said.

Content

Participants who were drawn from the World Bank, the Agricultural Development Bank, the United States Embassy, the Private Enterprises Foundation, and the University of Ghana Business School (UGBS), lively debated what the term “Ghana Beyond Aid” meant and what it would entail moving forward.

The Executive Director of the Afrobarometer, Professor E. Gyimah-Boadi, who moderated the discussion said Ghana Beyond Aid was catchy, but empty of disciplined content.

It had resulted in anyone giving it any meaning convenient to him or her.

He said the term had to be unpacked for the meaning, but principally Ghanaians had to know what the government proposing it was doing differently to set the country on that path.

Own it!

Setting the tone for the discussions, the Executive Director of the CDD-Ghana, Prof. H. Kwasi Prempeh, did not mince words in calling upon all Ghanaians to own the concept.

He was of the view that the term was not about “government beyond aid,” but was principally about Ghanaians being self-sufficient in their country; hence, “Ghana Beyond Aid.”

He, therefore, charged Ghanaians to own the slogan and work with other civil society organisations as they chartered a plan on getting the country to that state.

A lecturer of the UGBS, Dr Abeka Nkrumah, said the term, Ghana Beyond Aid, leant itself to several meanings.

For him it either could mean what the country would do with the aid after it was received, or the country not dependent at all.

For him, in whichever case the term applied, Ghana had to work hard to achieve and maintain that status.

Participants

Participants wanted the concept unpacked and a guide on weaning the country off aid. Others wished for a baseline on the current state of the country’s economy from which projections on effort could be benchmarked.

The Chairman of the Board of the National Communications Authority, Mr Kweku Sekyi-Addo, said mobile money held the opportunity to formalise the informal sector in payments of taxes.

Donor partners present from the US Embassy and the World Bank said plugging leakages in domestic revenue mobilisation and utilisation was key.