Friday 15 December 2017

Minority fights off attempt to blame Mahama for IMF programme fiasco

Minority fights off attempt to blame Mahama for IMF programme fiasco
(Myjoyonline 08/31/17)
Former Deputy Finance Minister, Casiel Ato Forson

The Minority in Parliament has fought off an attempt by the New Patriotic Party (NPP) administration to blame its inability to end the IMF programme on the agreed timeline of 2018, on the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and former president John Mahama.
Former Deputy Finance Minister, Casiel Ato Forson who now speaks on finance on behalf of the Minority stated Thursday on Joy FM that, they are “disputing the fact that all targets were missed”.

The comments follow the announcement by the IMF that Ghana’s economic reform programme with the Fund which was expected to end in 2018, has now been extended by one more year.

It means the freeze in government sector employment will remain in force until 2020 when it will to be lifted.
This comes in sharp contrast to an assurance President Akufo-Addo made at his maiden media encounter to mark six months in office.
The President had said the programme will not be extended beyond the agreed timeline of April 2018.

“There is no question of the IMF being extended; it will end as agreed in April 2018," Nana Akufo-Addo told journalists at the Flagstaff House.
The Finance Minister, Ken Ofori Atta in an interview with Joy Business, corroborated the president’s statement.
“We are confident that we will meet the targets that we have set this year, and remember that the Fund will be with us, as we work through the 2018 budget, and we are truly committed to ending the program in April 2018,” he said.
However, the government appears to be holding the previous administration responsible for the latest development.

Explaining the circumstances leading to the decision to extend the programme, a Deputy Finance Minister, Kwaku Kwarteng said the previous regime did not meet “all the targets” set by the IMF.
"I concede that we are in difficulty…that difficulty is coming from the fact that we went into a programme in 2015; it was supposed to have ended it in 2018 [first quarter], the IMF came back and told us we have missed the targets and therefore, unless we would commit to allow the 2018 budget statement which would be budget compliance to run the full 2018, they were ending it...that is the difficulty were in...,” Mr. Kwarteng told host of the Super Morning Show, Kojo Yankson.

But former deputy Finance Minister, Casiel Ato Forson in a determined move to fight off the attack on the former administration, demanded that the Akufo-Addo-led administration admit that it erred in telling Ghanaians that the country’s programme with the Fund was going to be discontinued next year.
In his opinion, the Finance Minister may have misled the President ahead of his media engagement.
“Probably, the Finance Minister failed to brief the president properly…,” stated the Minority spokesperson.
He said the opposition NDC will be studying documentation relating the latest development and would soon state its official position on the matter.

Background

The main priority of the programme is to restore debt sustainability through a sustained fiscal consolidation and to support growth with adequate capital spending and a reduction in financing costs.
Subsequently, the IMF agreed to support the government with a loan of about $940 million aimed at boosting economic growth and tightening fiscal discipline.
The programme rests on three pillars: Restraining and prioritizing public expenditure with a transparent budget process; increasing tax collection; and strengthening the effectiveness of the central bank monetary policy.

The Government of Ghana in 2015 reached an agreement with the IMF for a new economic reform programme following four straight years of poor performance.

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