A United States of America-based Ghanaian Economist, Dr. Sa-ad Iddrisu, has said Vice President Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia’s statement comparing the Ghana card with 1000 interchanges is unfortunate. According to him, the Veep has become a ‘wizkid’ of contradictions.
Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia has been receiving some backlash in the wake of Ghana’s discussion with the IMF for a bailout after claiming that the national identity card, also known as Ghana Card, is more beneficial than the numerous interchanges constructed across the country.
Reacting to the Vice President’s statement on Wednesday, July 20, during a zoom lecture with some sections of Ghanaian students in the United States on Ghana’s economy, Dr. Iddrisu called out Bawumia for becoming a walking contradiction.
According to Dr. Iddrisu, “prior to the 2016 election, Dr. Bawumia made his famous quote that when the fundamentals of the economy are weak, the exchange rate will expose you. Fast forward to 2017-2022 when in government, he comes back now to tell us that a falling exchange rate doesn’t mean the economic fundamentals are weak. This is surely a man of contradictions and zero principles.”
“This is just one example and if we go back to take all the pre-election 2016 statements made by Dr. Bawumia on the economy and compare them to the statements he is making now in government, you will find dozens of contradictions, with zero principles”, Dr. Iddrisu said.
Dr. Iddrisu also said that the recent Ghana card statement made by Dr. Bawumia was very unfortunate. “To say the Ghana card is better than 1000 interchanges is an unfortunate statement that should not be coming from a sitting Vice President.”
“It’s possible that the Ghana card registration may help increase the number of tax payers in the informal sector of the economy since the card is linked to Tax Identification Number (TIN). However, an economy that lacks basic access to improved roads and interchanges to make it easier for farmers and traders to transport their goods and services to the market for sale, should not be thinking it can raise enough taxes just by registering people for Ghana card. You cannot tax people on empty pockets and hungry stomachs.”
He added, “You have to provide them with improved roads, which will then lead to easy movements of their goods and services, translating to higher productivity/revenues and possibly higher tax collection rates. Therefore, 1000 interchanges are far better than Ghana card a million times and not the other way round. However, that is not to say the Ghana card is not an important digitization drive, it is. The comparison made by Dr. Bawumia is what is out of context and very unfortunate, and should not have even been made in the first place.”
He also advised Dr. Bawumia and the NPP government not to downplay the infrastructural development made by successive governments while commenting on the decision to go to the IMF.
“The NPP and Dr. Bawumia should not downplay the infrastructural development made by previous governments since independence and under John Mahama. Nana Addo and Dr. Bawumia’s government should rather add more to our existing infrastructure by spending more of the country’s budget on capital expenditure rather than consumption spending as is the case now,” Dr. Iddrisu said.
“The Bank of Ghana monetary policy reports from 2017 to date, points to the fact that Nana Addo’s government has borrowed more money than all previous governments combined since independence. Yet, very little infrastructural development to show for such huge borrowings”, Dr. Iddrisu said.
The IMF is granting the government of Ghana about $1 billion credit facility which is yet to be approved by parliament.
But the expert said even if the IMF grants Ghana a $5 billion or $10 billion credit facility under the current government, a large portion of the funds will be blown away by corruption and mismanagement.
“Nana Addo must fight corruption and mismanagement under his government with all the seriousness it deserves if it intends to achieve the needed infrastructural development and fiscal discipline”, Dr. Iddrisu said.