Business in Ghana

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In an Economic Wilderness. Critical News, 10th August 2014

Posted by Business in Ghana on August 10, 2014

Sydney Casely-Hayford, sydney@bizghana.com

I finished form five at Accra Academy forty-three years ago. Forty-three years. We did the calculation this weekend when we came home to the Alma Mater on Saturday, boasting freely of stupid pranks, feeling comfortable with friends you forged early learning experiences, and listing colleagues now departed, fondly and regrettably.

We are old men now, sixty plus and balding, most of us in glasses, trying hard to get in and out of chairs without wincing, but determined to hold on to old drinking capacities and boasting empty Guinness and Club bottles, the whiskey bottle still a friend even with arthritic hands and extended belly guts.

We ate, laughed, let our hair down and yelled and sang profanities as if it was still yesterday and we had lofted ourselves into the school bus on the way to an inter-co competition, confident that Accra Aca would triumph again.

The old school changeth not; we saw and admired trees we had planted and nursed, punished to weed courtyards and football fields still in use and the grand entrance to the old school still welcoming as on the first day when you registered to spend the next five years with strangers who would become life-long bosom pals in the half decade.

There were enough of us to let the 2014-year group know that we are still a force and now an accolade and beacon for them to live to the expectations of a great school founded in 1931.

Accra Academy, I salute you for the education you gave me, and all I can say is BLEOO! 1971 year-group it was nice meeting up again and I hope we make another year, same time, same place.

But before Saturday our Government wrote to the IMF and asked for a bailout from the deep and worsening economic crisis. This is not the first time our Ghana Government has had to do this.

In May 1999 the IMF granted us 228.80 million Special Drawing Rights (SDR). We also applied and received a SDR184.50 million in May 2003. In July 2012, we went back to the Fund for another SDR387.45 million. This was the case made by the NDC Government when they took over governance for support from the Fund.

Don’t confuse the SDR with US$. Once your SDR quota is determined, a conversion is made into real money and the equivalent is what you get in US$. Currently Ghana can access $565million and can apply for 300% of this figure.

So after the 2009 drawdown, the NDC Government told us the support was so successful we achieved a major turnaround in the economy within the first year.

And in July 2012, former Finance Minister Dr. Kwabena Duffuor made a case in Parliament for additional ghc2.6 billion spending on the back of remarkable financial turnaround and mega macro indicator reports.

As usual, Parliament approved the spending and Government proceeded to squander the touted achievements in the run up to the elections. They spent all the ghc2.6 billion and went further to leave the largest fiscal deficit ever in the history of this country.

That is what brought us to this point. A friend of mine sums the matter up as “A Better Ghana” now turned “Bitter Ghana”. Apt?

Now the concern on everybody’s lips is how much can we get and how soon will the cash come? There has been debate about whether Ghana should opt for a sovereign bond or IMF bail out.

With our SDR right at $565million, three times that amount will enable us to drawdown in excess of $1.5billion, about the same value of the sovereign bond we were going to float.

But the decision is moot. Friday, the IMF published a notice of the application from Government to opt into the program, though we don’t know which program yet.

A team will arrive in Ghana to walk Government through its “Home Grown” wilderness and other solutions, hopefully soon, and we will get some confidence back in this economy. Ah, ma br3

The 5-year Millennium Compact II with the USA is signed. If we implement using the same process as for Compact I it will turn the energy situation around and once and for all we can stop making excuses for not achieving economic growth.

I am looking forward to this injection; it has a large local content component and also lays significant emphasis on private sector involvement. It is also FREE, and we need free from wherever it comes.

We succeeded in summarizing the whole project to a sale of ECG, which it is not, but that is the price for skirting the surface of important projects. Read this statement from IMANI to get a better brief of how this can move us forward. However, be mindful that the trend to privatization might end up so successful, ECG will not retain its present form after this Compact is delivered.

Isn’t it interesting that even as we “baila” help from the IMF and the world, no one is at Ghana’s doorstep offering to help us with some free aid? Signs of the times eh?

What is FIFA’s position in my joyous entertainment of football? At what point did FIFA break above national politics and usurp our sovereign authority to investigate and prosecute anyone we believe has misused state money?

If FIFA and their nonsense is not checked, we might as well invite Sep Blatter and his team to come and run this country with other sports authorities.

We set up a fruitless Commission of Enquiry to see if we can non-jail some persons sitting at the right side of the President and FIFA wants to have a say in that? If we had the cojones, we would lick our middle fingers and let the harmattan breeze wash over it in FIFA’s Elvis.

Does Alfred Agbesi Woyome have a future as a financier of political parties in Ghana? Or anything? The Supreme Court answered that for us a few days ago, and a good buddy who understands legalese sent me a short statement on this. Let me share.

But to me, the KILLER BLOW for Woyome’s future is what Dotse JSC said, as follows:

“Indeed the facts and bizarre circumstances of this case are enough to provoke our conscience in ensuring that justice is done to the good people of this country… Our decision in this review case will be without prejudice to any decision that may be given in the cases pending in the High Court, ESPECIALLY IN THE CRIMINAL PROSECUTION THAT [Woyome] IS FACING. HOWEVER, IF OUR DECISION IN THIS REVIEW APPLICATION LEADS TO FAVOURABLE DECISIONS FOR THE [ATTORNEY-GENERAL] IN THE CIVIL AND CRIMINAL PROSECUTIONS, THEN SO BE IT.

I have argued ignorantly in private circles and I am glad that we are developing a conscience in this country that is now waking up to the fact that we will get good governance in the very end. That end will come soon, because I expect the Occupy Ghana and Red Friday movement to not let up in their demands and we will push this and other Government to the brink of change when our leaders will learn to serve and not steal.

And we are wandering around the world looking for any means, any means available to shore up a gap of profligacy. Many before us have floated in an economic wilderness of obscurity, looking for answers from up yonder to shower down ideas and concepts to fix our man-created economic cavities.

Wish it could be as easy as that, ‘cos if all we have to do is fast and pray and look up to the sky, one finger pointing upwards and eyes cast up in mock-political winnings, Ghana would have it all laid out today. It can be a murky wilderness as we are finding out.

And any day now, Ebola might come knocking on the door. I sure hope not.

Ghana, Aha a ye de papa. Alius valde week advenio. Another great week to come!

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