… “rhetoric that emanates from international diplomats must reflect local realities” Mahama
Three prominent Ghanaian individuals, have separately taken on the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) over statements she made about Ghana’s precarious economic situation and essentially questioned her sincerity and the credibility of the institution she heads.
One theme runs through the assessments of Kristalina Georgieva’s comments by ex-President John Dramani Mahama, to the Member of Parliament (MP) for the Bolgatanga Central, Isaac Adongo to Dr Amoako Baah, a leading member of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), that the IMF boss, had been deceitful.
Of the three individuals, ex-President Mahama, drew blood and without mincing words charged at Kristalina Georgieva, saying “while the norm in international diplomacy of being guarded in what one says is appreciated, comments by high ranking officials must be grounded on facts that take into consideration local realities and opinions”.
Kristalina Georgieva at the Africa Climate Change Adaptation Summit, said on September 5, 2022, after a meeting with Ghana’s President, Nana Akufo-Addo that, Ghana’s economic hardships have been largely caused by exogenous factors.
“Like everybody on this planet, Ghana has been hurt by exogenous shocks, first the pandemic, then Russia’s war in Ukraine, and we need to realize that Ghana’s challenge is not because of bad policies, but the combination of external shocks,” the IMF boss noted.
She said shocks from two unforeseen factors; COVID-19 pandemic and Russia-Ukraine war, have heavily impacted the economy and are to be blamed for the country’s woes and not “bad policies” said to be implemented by the government.
“Like everybody on this planet, you have been hurt by exogenous shocks. First, the pandemic, then Russia-Ukraine. And then we need to realise is not because of bad policies in the country, but because of this combination of shocks,” she added.
The IMF Director added that Ghana, as a strong country in the sub-region, ought to be supported by the IMF to bounce back, because the strength of Ghana impacts positively on neighbouring countries.
“And therefore, we have to support (Ghana) because you’re a member. You’re a strong country, you have fantastic people, but also we have to support Ghana because your strength contributes to the strength of your neighbours. It contributes to a stronger world,” she stated.
Speaking further on the anticipated deal with Ghana, she noted the IMF, is determined to have an agreement with Ghana by the end of this year.
“I am very determined for us to indeed reach an agreement by the end of this year,” she quipped.
But Mr Mahama, has taken a swipe at her for attributing Ghana’s prevailing weak economic situation to shocks of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war.
In a Facebook post on Wednesday, Mr Mahama stated that “it is a relief to hear Madam Kristina Grigoreva reaffirm the commitment of the IMF to support the people of Ghana in these perilous times.
“Ghanaians are undeserving of the uncertainty and hardship resulting from the ineptness of the Nana Akufo-Addo administration that has contributed massively to this mess.
“While the norm in international diplomacy of being guarded in what one says is appreciated, comments by high ranking officials must be grounded on facts that take into consideration local realities and opinions”, adding “the incontrovertible fact is that, Ghana is in a mess due to the BAD POLICIES of this government, which have contributed massively to the dire state of affairs.
“International diplomats must consider these facts and not just ignore them; lest they make wrong diagnosis and prescribe inappropriate remedies.
“The consequences of the government’s ill-adviced policies such as the botched, insensitive and dubious cost in closing down locally owned banks, unbridled levels of corruption and lack of accountability including the mismanagement of COVID-19 funds, unconventional borrowing practices riddled with opaqueness and conflicts of interest, resulting in an unsustainable debt envelope, costly, experimental and untested programmes, etc., cannot be ignored in understanding the current dire state of the Ghanaian Economy.
“Therefore, the rhetoric that emanates from international diplomats must reflect local realities. The Ghanaian economy must be managed first for the Ghanaian who lives and experiences it daily, not just for an international audience.
The MP for the Bolgatanga Central Constituency, Isaac Adongo, also queried the IMF boss’ statements about Ghana’s economic situation, especially so when the Fund had in times past released data that depicted the nature of Ghana’s economy and its ballooning debt.
Commenting on Former President Mahama’s post which debunked claims that the country’s woes have been due to exogenous factors, Adongo questioned how the IMF boss could come to such conclusions.
“Fortunately, the IMF has issued several official Management Board and Staff reports on Ghana, including its mandatory annual surveillance reports called Article IV Consultations which showed a country in a mess since 2018 and got worse in 2019.
“IMF reported in its published RCF agreement that we were doing a debt service of 91% of revenue, 7.7% deficit, 4.7% negative primary, a balance which means we were borrowing a whopping 4.7% of GDP to service debt, had zero cash buffers entering into 2020 and had been at a high risk of debt distress for 3 consecutive years,” he wrote in a comment under John Mahama’s Facebook post on September 8, 2022.
Per the data he stated, he continued to ask: “How can the MD of IMF forget its own gloomy data on Ghana and seek to speak to a non-existent narrative? Probably, the visit of the finance minister to her office wiped off all the pages of all the IMF data on Ghana and replaced them with a new storyline.”
He added that even though Ghana appreciates the assistance from the fund, “don’t further add to a worsening governance regime based on lies, narrative fostering and credibility crisis.”
On his part, Dr Amoako Baah, accused the Akufo-Addo government of managing to corrupt the IMF boss by bending to demands to blame the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war for Ghana’s current difficulties and not the government’s bad policies.
Dr Amoako, in a statement, slammed the IMF manager for heeding the president’s demands and lying to the world about the cause of Ghana’s challenges.
“I would venture to say that Nana Addo must have appealed to the IMF boss for help in dispelling the narrative that Ghana is in trouble because of mismanagement, thievery, and incompetence. If that were the case, it is in order for him to ask for such help.
“But it is not in order for the IMF boss to describe a country on its knees as a “superb country.” Such a statement is irresponsible because it does not hold the government accountable for the mishandling of the economy,” parts of the statement read.
He further stated that the conclusion drawn by the IMF boss did not make sense, because many countries, including some in the West African sub-region, are being affected by the two factors, but none of them is going through the hardships Ghanaians are going through.
“Why is our neighbour, Cote d’Ivoire, with almost the same GDP, located almost at the same location on the globe, equally impacted by Covid 19 and the Ukraine war, not asked for IMF help? If the two conditions above impacted the world, some even worse than Ghana, why are some not at the IMF, and we are?
“Why is Togo, for example, not at the IMF? One cause cannot be used to explain two opposite effects. Ghana goes to IMF because of Covid-19 and the war in Ukraine; Togo does not go to IMF because of Covid-19 and the war in Ukraine. This is counterfeit logic; there must be another explanation for being at the IMF!” he noted.
He reiterated that the current economic challenges in the country are a result of the bad policies of the Akufo-Addo government and pervasive corruption in the country.
Dr Baah, who is also a political science lecturer at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, also urged the IMF to stop toeing the line of the government and tell the world the truth about Ghana’s economy.