The New Patriotic Party has officially announced it will stay away from the four-day National Economic Forum which is taking place at Akosombo this week.
The national chairman of the party, Mr Paul Afoko made this known at a press conference in Accra Monday morning.
Government has set Tuesday for the beginning of the 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.
But according to the NPP, the forum is a mere public relations gimmick and accused the government of bad faith in the lead up to the forum.
Mr Afoko, addressing the press conference said the NPP was committed to consensus building and partnership in national development but would not be part of a "deliberate propaganda and PR gimmick, to hoodwink the good people of Ghana in the face of monumental hardships we have been subjected to."
Government has explained that the event was a non-partisan forum themed "Changing the Narrative: Building a National Consensus for Economic and Social Transformation."
It is expected to draw ideas for a "sustainable path of development that guarantees improvements in the quality of life for all Ghanaians"
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 Kwadwo Alan Kyeremanten, to call for a non-partisan debate on the current challenges facing the country's economy.
Below is the full statement read by the NPP at the press conference
THE NATIONAL ECONOMIC FORUM ON POLICIES FOR MEDIUM TERM NATIONAL DEVELOMENT FROM NEXT YEAR (2015), NPP’s POSITION
Ladies and Gentlemen of the Press,
I welcome you all to this press conference.
We have invited you here this morning, to express our profound displeasure at the seemingly bad faith; the NDC government has exhibited in the lead up to the National Economic Forum.
We in the New Patriotic Party (NPP) have at all times demonstrated our resolve and absolute commitment towards consensus building and partnership in our nation’s development.
Never have we abandoned our responsibilities both in government and out of government; we shall continue to do so in the larger interest and progress of our dear nation.
It is however noteworthy to recall that on several occasions, the NPP minority in parliament, economic experts and other key figures in our party have consistently and relentlessly offered suggestions as to how to arrest our ailing economy. Unfortunately, the Mahama-led administration has treated these suggestions with contempt and spokespersons for the government have poured scorn on them. The evidence is there for all to see.
Last Friday afternoon, the NPP received an invitation from the seat of government, to be part of a National Economic Forum that is scheduled to begin on 12th of May 2014. The letter signed by the executive secretary to the president was dated the 2nd of May, 2014. In spite of the short distance between the flagstaff house and the NPP party headquarters, it took more than a week for the letter to be hand delivered. This shows a lack of seriousness on the part of the government towards this important national exercise.
How can the government call stakeholders to such an important forum at such short notice, and expect any meaningful contribution in this national discourse? This is a clear manifestation that the government is just being disingenuous and that the supposed national economic forum is really intended to be a PR gimmick calculated to keep the people of Ghana in the dark about the real state of the economy.
As we speak to you now, we are still unaware of the base document and the content thereof to be used at the forum. Article 55 (3) of our national constitution provides “ a political party is free to participate in shaping the political will of the people, to disseminate information on political ideas, social and economic programs of a national character”. Pursuant to this, if a party is invited to a national economic forum properly so-called, the party must prepare itself adequately to make a meaningful impact.
Information available to us suggest that the NDC government has already adopted a set of reforms between 2014 and 2017 (including the retrenchment of workers) and has communicated same in its policy document to the IMF titled ‘ECONOMIC AND FINANCIAL POLICIES FOR THE MEDIUM TERM’ dated 14th April 2014. This document contains what the government describes as “home grown policies” was formally submitted to the IMF during the recent Spring Meetings in Washington DC.
The question is, if the government has already adopted a set of policies and has already submitted to the IMF what is the purpose of convening a national economic forum to deliberate on what to do?
Ghanaians are aware that parliament has recently approved a thirty million dollar ($30million) facility, which has a grant component of $10 million from the World Bank for capacity building of the Ghana statistical Service. That capacity building is to lead to the retrenchment of 300 staff of the statistical service. This forms part of the General agreement that government of Ghana has with the World Bank/IMF to, as they describe it euphemistically, “right size” the civil/public office staff strength. This resort is what the John Mahama-led NDC government is purposed to pursue beginning 2015.
Again, not quite long, President John Mahama stated quite emphatically to all Ghanaians that, our economy was in good shape. Moreover his Minister for Finance, Mr. Seth Tekper, has further stated that the economy was far from being in crisis and that position has been canvassed aggressively by NDC party propagandists on various media platforms. One thing that is certain is that the government has been in a state of denial.
The IMF has over the years routinely reported on the state of the economy after every Spring Meeting. It appears that for the first time in Ghana’s economic history the government has refused to grant consent for the publication of the 2014 article 4 consultations with the IMF. The question is if the government has nothing to hide then why has the report not been published? This feeds into the perception that the NDC government is behind the total blackout of the report from the public.
Why is this government comfortable in sharing details of its economic plans with the IMF while at the same time hiding such plans from Ghanaians?
In principle, we in the New Patriotic Party (NPP) are not against a National Economic Forum however in its present form it offers us no opportunity to significantly engage in the process. We believe that such an important forum should have been initiated collaboratively.
However by organizing this economic forum, we believe the Mahama-led government is at it again with the usual deliberate policy of propaganda and PR gimmick, attempting to hoodwink the good people of Ghana in the face of monumental hardship we have all been subjected to. We believe government’s intent on their declared “Home-grown” initiatives is anything to measure the goal and objectives of the forum, then it is abundantly clear that the purpose of the forum is to create a platform to legitimize proposals that have been formed up between the NDC government and the World Bank/IMF. In this regard, and for the avoidance of doubt, the NPP solemnly declares that the party will not be part of any incongruous arrangement.
As a credible opposition party we shall continue to provide workable alternatives to the management of our national economy. Governance is a serious undertaking and it is expected of the President to attach the highest level of seriousness to it.
We love Ghana intensely and we love to serve but it is clear this is a PR gimmick and we therefore unequivocally decline the invitation to participate.