Minority to support govt check cedi depreciation
The Minority in Parliament has indicated its readiness to serve on the government's proposed bipartisan committee to address the structural causes of the depreciation of the cedi.
The Minority members led by their leader, Mr Haruna Iddrisu, said they would serve on the committee in the interest of the larger population to arrest the depreciation of the cedi.
The Minority Members of Parliament (MPs) were speaking in separate interviews with journalists yesterday moments after the Minister of Finance, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, had told Parliament that the President had directed him to investigate the structural causes of the depreciation of the cedi and propose measures to address the situation.
"The Governor and I will put a bipartisan committee together to proceed immediately," Mr Ofori-Atta said.
Regarding the constitution of the proposed bipartisan committee, Mr Iddrisu said "We will be happy to nominate Mr Cassiel Ato Forson and Mr Isaac Adongo to serve on it."
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For his part, Mr Forson, who is the Minority Spokesperson on Finance and Ranking Member on the Finance Committee of Parliament, said "We are ready, not only myself but my colleague members of the Finance Committee. When they call upon us we will stop whatever we are doing and be on board to help them because clearly the government needs help.
On the cedi’s depreciation, Mr Iddrisu said Bloomberg reported that as of the end of February, 2019, the cedi was the weakest currency in Sub Saharan Africa.
"What we need to appreciate is that the cedi as of today is reported by Bloomberg to be GH¢5.45 against one dollar," he said.
Mr Iddrisu, who is also the National Democratic Congress (NDC) MP for Tamale South, said the fast depreciation of the cedi meant that commitment on interest payment would naturally go up.
"So if government estimated GH¢16 billion as interest payment, it is likely to become GH¢17 billion or GH¢18 billion.
"How is it going to raise the additional one billion in order to be able to offset that, particularly when their budget targets and budget numbers was GH¢4.8 for one dollar," he wondered.
Therefore, Mr Iddrisu said to describe the slight appreciation of the cedi as impressive “was neither here nor there.”
"What investors and private sector need in Ghana is stability. Let them be certain.
If it is GH¢6 per dollar let it be but the uncertainty and volatility of up and down worry them and affect them for their planning purposes," he said.
Mr Iddrisu said the depreciation of the cedi would not end until the country expanded its export base and increased exports.
"I am afraid that a dollar to cedi may get to GH¢6 at the end of the year as has been predicted by Bloomberg. That will be worrying for our country," he said.
The Minority Leader faulted the government for borrowing and spending on consumption but not capital expenditure.
"This is the first government that says clap for us for borrowing; I am the biggest borrower.
The government spends on consumption but not capital expenditure that will yield dividend and spur growth in the economy," he said.
On the country exiting the International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme, Mr Iddrisu said the exit coupled with the rebasing of the economy still posed a threat regarding fiscal consolidation.
For his part, the NDC MP for Bolga Central and member of the Finance Committee of Parliament, Mr Isaac Adongo, said the government borrowed at high rates to come and pay for wages and salaries.
He said the cedi was actually depreciating contrary to the claim by the Minister of Finance that it was appreciating.
Mr Adongo said the country's economy was worst off now than when the country joined the IMF programme.
He challenged claims that the country had satisfied all the IMF conditionalities and indicated that the government pleaded for waivers throughout.