Bawumia sneezes and the NDC catches cold
by Kwabena Opong
Following NPP vice presidential candidate Mahamudu Bawumia’s latest lecture on the Ghanaian economy on Thursday, September 8, the ruling NDC party has subjected the economics academic to a barrage of verbal attacks. Among those leading the attack on Alhaji Bawumia is Vice President Paa Kwesi Amissah-Arthur who instead of rebutting what Dr. Bawumia said is claiming Bawumia lacks a basic understanding of basic economics. “I will respond,” the vice president is reported to have said but so far he hasn’t, as his party is seeking to impress on Ghanaians that Dr. Bawumia chose to attack the NDC’s way of managing the economy not from a rational and objective perspective but became more political and propagandist in his approach. He was therefore not worthy of any response from the vice president, also an economist. Dr. Bawumia’s latest lecture is one of a series meant to educate and also to inform Ghanaians about the Mahama administration’s handling of the economy. In June 2014 he warned Vice President Amissah Arthur that poor handling of the economy would make an IMF bailout inevitable. He also predicted new foreign exchange measures the Bank of Ghana had imposed in February could not work and it didn’t. While all his predictions came true earning him a high degree of credibility among discerning Ghanaians and the international community, the ruling NDC would not take Bawumia serious.
The former first governor of the Bank of Ghana warned the administration that continuous borrowing would drive the national debt to $42 billion in December. He accused the government of failing to put to good use the huge loans it had contracted. “In fact, 66 per cent of Ghana’s debt from independence has been accumulated under the presidency of John Mahama in just the last threeand-a-half years. “By the end of 2008 following the adoption and implementation of the HIPC initiative, the government’s policy framework of fiscal discipline, the country’s debt to GDP ratio, had declined from 189 per cent in 2000, to 32 per cent of GDP by 2008,’ he disclosed. He added that in terms of the dollar equivalent of othe borrowed amount this government has borrowed some $39 billion dollars in eight years. “When I mention this, they either get confused or pretend to get confused; so for the sake of clarity, I have put in this document” (referring to the paper he was delivering) “a table that shows them clearly the dollar equivalence of all the amounts borrowed from 2009 to 2016, in fact by December 2016, the government would have borrowed $42 billion dollars.” “The government would claim no doubt, that the book value of the debt is $26 billion dollars; but quite frankly, that is a weak argument.” “The only reason why the book value of the debt is $26 billion is because we are applying today’s exchange rate which the same government succeed in collapsing to the value of the debt; and not the exchange rate at the time the money was borrowed. With this major increase in the debt, Ghana’s debt to GDP ratio has increased from 32 percent in 2008, to 72 percent at the end of 2015,” Dr Bawumia explained. NPP’s presidential running mate, a brilliant academic and economist has not only impressed the average Ghanaian. NDC’s own Dr. Kwesi Botchwey, Ghana’s longest serving finance minister, described a Bawumia lecture in 2014 as brilliant. “I am honoured following on the heels of Mahamudu and his brilliant lecture which stirred healthy debate on the woes of the cedi but generally on our national economy. Mahamudu is a young man whose professional credentials I particularly respect. So I offer no rebuttals to what he had to say. On the contrary, I do agree with much of what he said,” Prof Botchwey admitted when he took his turn at the Distinguished Speaker series organized by the Central University College. The likes of Fiifi Fiavi Kwetey, (who is the current Minister of Transport), said he was leading a team of NDC propagandists to ‘correct’ the ‘untruths’ being ‘peddled’ by Dr. Bawumia in their “Setting the Records Straight” encounter. “Enough of the untruths being peddled; we are going to set the records straight from next week,” he posted on Facebook last Friday. So far no such rebuttals from Mr. Kwetey and his team has happened. Fiifi Kwetey is on record to have said that Bawumia is a disgrace to his family for criticizing the government in its handling of the nation’s economy.
Characteristic of the local political landscape the language of criticism devolves from a pedantic and quasi academic approach to question Bawumia’s submission from selfdescribed think tanks to insults mostly from propaganda teams of parties opposed to the NPP led by the NDC. Some think tanks like Imani, and the IEA sometimes appear to be cynical of their criticisms depending on who is talking from their respective stables. NDC general secretary Johnson Asiedu Nketiah describes Dr. Bawumia as a liability for the NPP as he continues “to give false prophecies and this is affecting his own credibility and I can bet you he is dooming his political career.” In his latest remark on Alhaji Bawumia, Asiedu Nketiah shows some respect to the noted economist, saying he (Bawumia) belongs to the wrong party. In this election year Alhaji Mahammudu Bawumia has struck a nerve putting the NDC’s tail on the spin, but it doesn’t look like this is the last of the series. The sneeze might develop into a bad cold bordering on sinusitis.
The writer is the Editor-in Chief of Amandla