I hope something good will come out of National Economic Forum

BY: Kobby Asmah

The 2012 Presidential candidate of the Progressive People’s Party, Dr Papa Kwesi Nduom, has expressed the hope that something good will come out of the National Economic Forum.

The government has set tomorrow for the first ever National Economic Forum aimed at achieving consensus on policies, strategies and measures to accelerate Ghana's transition from a lower middle income nation to an upper middle income economy.

Scheduled to take place in Akosombo, the non-partisan forum is themed "Changing the Narrative: Building a National Consensus for Economic and Social Transformation".

The four-day event is also expected to draw ideas for a "sustainable path of development that guarantees improvements in the quality of life for all Ghanaians", according to a government release on Wednesday.

Despite many attempts to curtail a ballooning public wage, a depreciating cedi and record high inflation, Ghana’s economy continues to slump in performance.

These, coupled with a rising debt stock, has caused some experts, including Mr Kwadjo Alan Kyeremanten, to call for a non-partisan debate on the current challenges facing the country's economy.

National Economic Forum

According to Dr Nduom, there is nothing wrong with a government reaching out for new ideas to respond to the challenges facing the economy.

He however said that the initiative by the current ruling government  was not the first economic forum to be organised in the country since 1992, and recalled attending the first forum organised under the presidency of former President J.J. Rawlings.

He said under former President J.A Kufuor, he also organised the National Economic Dialogue on two occasions, did a review session and reported on what was achieved at the forum.

In the view of Dr Nduom, the initiative must be a continuous broad based national exercise organised under the auspices of the National Development Planning Commission with the government implementing ideas from the forum  to shape and guide the formulation of national policy directions.

Asked whether he would be attending the forum, he declared “I will give them the benefit of my experience if they invite me.”

Participants and major contributors at the forum will include former finance ministers, former governors of the Bank of Ghana, eminent economists, political parties, parliamentarians and business leaders.

Also expected to take part in the national event are economic policy makers as well as representatives of traders associations, development and social partners, civil society organisations, members of academia and senior citizens.

The forum also aims to institutionalise a regular consultative machinery that promotes economic dialogue between the public sector and social partners in order to develop common national positions on critical economic policy issues.

Heritage Fund

On whether the government must use the Heritage Fund to cushion the ailing economy, Dr Nduom emphatically stated “It is a no go area; I do not know what difficulty we are in to warrant the use of the fund.”

He said the government keeps talking about an economy growing fast, so if this is the situation, why the need to use the heritage fund meant for use by our future generations.”

Rather, he stressed the need for hard work, finding good and innovative ideas to run the economy, stop corruption and eliminate waste and wreckless spending as some of the critical things the nation must do to turn round the economy.

He also emphasized the need for government to rather concentrate on embarking on practical projects and consider all the ideas in the past in order to yield efficient results.

In his view, the Heritage Fund was purposely established for use by our future generations, saying “it did not come for nothing; It is  for our future generations to have an inheritance; It is like a pension fund and must not be touched.”

PPP and 2016 elections

Dr Nduom stated that the PPP was dedicated to sharing innovative ideas and proffering alternative solutions for the efficient and effective running of the economy.

He said as part of their key campaign message between the 2012 and 2016 elections, “we want Ghanaians to know that it is inimical and in their own interest to know that you get what you vote for.”

He said that the Ghanaian electorate must have its eyes wide opened and understand there are consequences for every action and rather vote for quality leadership.

According to Dr Nduom, it was the key concern of the PPP to see to it that every Ghanaian was educated, had descent jobs and in a position to make decisions based on objective findings and vote on who could best do the job.

He expressed the conviction that come the 2016 elections, Ghanaians would not vote on ethnic or tribal lines, go for cloths, wash basins, rice, cooking oil, GH¢10 cash, sewing machines, alcoholic beverages and drinks to vote”

“That is the thing killing Ghana; It needs to be condemned,” he concluded.