Business in Ghana

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Confused Numerology. Critical News, 26th July 2015

Posted by Business in Ghana on July 27, 2015

Sydney Casely-Hayford,

For those of us who chose to ignore Finance Minister Seth Terkper’s mid-term budget review, we probably missed a lot in the art of numerology. I am an accountant by profession. I am actually a fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants, UK, I have been that for quite some time. I don’t do any more auditing work, a little beef I have with looking at numbers after people have raided the bank accounts and diverted all the cash they can lay their hands on.

And especially in Ghana, a source of immense frustration for me and right-thinking Ghanaians.

But back to numerology. I couldn’t listen to the full delivery in Parliament, so I chose to read the script in detail after the fact. I have to say one thing about the Ministry of Finance, they release electronic versions of all the speeches and fiscal reports in a timely fashion, allowing us analysts to do some back checking and interpretation. Just wish that the numbers were true and fair.

I have spent quite some time with the Controller and Accountant General’s reporting and was on the verge of pointing out the inconsistencies in the numbers and monthly aggregations when the junior doctors blew the lid on the late salary payments going back eleven months.

How on earthly Ghana does anyone survive if they don’t get a paycheck for eleven months? And how in the name of Mahama does anybody find a place for their head on a pillow, knowing that a future leader and bread winner of a family is being discouraged from thinking that a good training as a doctor with its full prestige and as close to God as you can get as a human, is not a worthy profession at the end of the month.

I won’t let my daughter run around with a man who cannot put a cheque on the table at the end of a month? Who born dog, that I should rear a child and cultivate her only for a loser with no future prospects and who would make her pay the bills and look after his self-acquired existence through her effort.

If I am being sexist here, I can appreciate your criticism, but after Barrack Obama tried to push human rights through gay inter-mediation and was firmly rebutted by Kenya’s Kenyatta, my respect for the Kenyan soared. From one Kenyan to another “Kenyan-American”, the message from the kinsman was clear.

But Africa has to understand that gay abhoration notwithstanding; a person’s choice in a relationship should not make that person any less a citizen. I think the West is yet to figure out how to couch the language of gay rights in a manner that my African peeps can feel comfortable that they will not be attacked by any gay person on the streets once they are within contact range. That seems to be the fear of gay persons in our society.

That as soon as a gay person comes close, they will force you to bend over and invade your closet hole without any provocation or permission. It is how paranoid we can get.

After all, some have chosen to be part of a religion, which they claim gives them the right to create caliphates where they can kill and maim anyone and stone women to death for walking on pavements without scarves. We turn a blind eye to the terrorism of religious fanatics and leave a human statement of preference, a harmless one at that, except for our own inner resentment to drive our life in confused determination.

When in some parts of Africa, you hear of gang rapes meant to exorcise homosexuality, you must appreciate our depth of occult and its use in both society and economics.

Our President is recorded as still believing that the loss of gas from the West Africa Gas Pipeline, which he announced in November 2012 was an act of God, still hangs in the background and could even be the reason for Castro’s disappearance.

After all, even the financially smartest footballer of our time, Asamoah Gyan, still believes that Castro will return, after Mame Water gets bored with his Azonto lyrics.

So Presidential brother Ibrahim Mahama was able to get our Local Government Ministry to allocate equipment to him to ensure that he could drain the long suffering Korle Lagoon and brand the equipment as he deemed fit, with no contract signed, just a good faith account of how he alone can fix the drainage system in Accra.

There was a little sign of things to come from his rare public interview, when he broadcast the reason why we should not be here in Ghana, when an American CONTI company should be given the contract to fix Accra.

And you know what? I agree with him. I would like a Ghanaian company to fix the drains and remove the silt everywhere. I just think that sometimes we are just too blatant with theft and annexing that which belongs to the people of this country.

We might get at the Auditor General, who is dragging its feet to implement the disallowance and surcharges, which we have tasked him to do via OccupyGhana through to the law courts.

We hear he (auditor general) is struggling to complete his constitutional responsibilities in delivering reports to Parliament. In Ghana parlance this means his allocation for cash has not arrived from the Ministry of Numerology. Or is it Palmistry? Sleight of Mr. Terkper’s pen.

So here is why I am saying we are either being hoodwinked or the finance minister is confused. I am referencing paragraphs from the 29 page statement of the mid-year review on 21st July 2015, for those who specialize in nitpicking.

You cannot in one breath say the economy is achieving fiscal stability since we joined the IMF program, (7,9). In para 12, the IMF did a review after 3 months and was satisfied that the program was on track. In para 38, fiscal performance indicates that reform measures being implemented has improved significantly but the cedi depreciated and contributed to inflation.

In para 39, seasonal depreciation of the cedi has begun to reverse in response to significant inflows and measures introduced. That means it is not seasonal but an injection, which we all know is the supposed $20million a day debacle.

GDP growth rates have all now changed to favor the Government figures, some from a negative to a complete positive turn. And this is because the Ghana Statistical Service has revised its methodology.

I will go and see them, try to understand how methods can change growth so drastically. I am puzzled that Q12015 now grew 4.7% instead of -3.8% when compared to Q12014. Even agriculture has reversed the declining growth and turned around to grow 7.4%.

In para 44, we now have a new “stabilisation-to-growth” policy, which was launched in 2013 under the Home Grown Policy. Never heard it until now, but I could be a little ignorant of these policies.

In para 45, inflation rears its head and exchange rates, utilities and transport costs take the blame. Yet earlier in para 7, we had control of all these spending and especially subsidy issues.

In para 47, the BoG maintained tight monetary policy to deal with high inflation and depreciation of the currency. Well duh, I am not sure we achieved anything with this policy. Cedi depreciated considerably and inflation increased consistently.

Let me wrap up now, because this can get boring if you are not a numbers person.

Despite all this good news and progress in fiscal and monetary policy, Overall GDP growth has been revised down from 3.9% to 3.5%. End-year inflation, with all the BoG tightening policies, is moving from 11.5% to 13.7% and the budget deficit will now show 7.3% of GDP instead of 6.5%.

But we need more money to execute the programs outlined in the budget. GHc866million. The debt to GDP ratio is calculated at 67.53%. But 90billion divided by 115billion (our current GDP figure per the GSS) gives you 78%. And this is only on borrowing. Add other liabilities and we could be close to 120%.

On 24th July, the exchange rate as per the Bank of Ghana website was ghc3.2906=$ (3rd July=4.0217, 10th July=3.4613, 17th July=3.2360). Gradual upward creep? From the site that quotes the lowest exchange rate in the country.

Ghana, Aha a yε din papa. Alius atrox week advenio. Another terrible week to come!

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