– As It Makes Another U-Turn
..As Attack On Mahama‘s IMF Bailout Venture Backfires
..Akufo-Addo, Ofori-Atta Osafo-Maafo, Akoto-Osei played ‘pilolo’ with it
As the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government crawls back to its own vomit by agreeing to extend Ghana’s economic bailout with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Vice President Bawumia chokes the most on the puke.
Throughout the arrogant chorus by the regime that the bailout was not going to be continued beyond April 2018, Dr. Bawumia’s verbosity had been the loudest, with the man actually declaring in March 2016 that the IMF program was a sham!
“When we went for the IMF bailout, we expected that our fiscal consolidation debt stock, interest rates and unemployment will come down and economic growth will go up,” Dr. Bawumia had said at a lecture in Kumasi, the Ashanti Regional capital.
The lecture, which had been organized by the Economics Department of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), had been on the topic “Graduate Unemployment.”
Dr. Bawumia, who was then the Running Mate to then Candidate Nana Akufo-Addo on the ticket of the NPP, had explained that the program was a sham because the purpose for which the Mahama government had entered the program, which was to fix the country’s ailing economy, was not being achieved, but worsening.
According to him, since Ghana borrowed from the IMF, borrowing and interest rates had all skyrocketed with economic growth in a nosedive, while the country’s unemployment situation worsened unabated.
On the basis of that, he told the students of the KNUST the whole fiscal consolidation idea was a sham.
The position of Dr. Bawumia, which had been shared by his party, had informed the NPP’s campaign promise that it would only endure the IMF bailout program if it won the 2016 elections, and that the Akufo-Addo government would happily end it at completion in April 2018.
However, just a little over a year, Dr. Bawumia’s NPP is in power, Bawumia is head of the Economic Management Team, and it has just been confirmed that the government has rather opted to continue the program for another year.
Consequently, the program, which was supposed to end in April, next year, will be completed in the first quarter of 2019.
According to a statement by the IMF, the completion of the fourth Extended Credit Facility review will enable the disbursement of some $94 million.
This brings the total disbursement under the program to $565.2 million, with the remainder being tied to the remaining reviews.
In 2015, when the then Mahama government entered into a three- year agreement for $918 million to, among other things, restore macroeconomic stability, the NPP, which was then in opposition, had mocked the move and cited it as a mark of incompetence on the part of the Mahama administration.
The same NPP had boycotted a 2014 National Economic dialogue at Senchi, which had yielded local solutions that the Mahama administration had later presented to the IMF as homebred strategies to be pursued with the IMF.
In spite of all these, the NPP pooh-poohed the efforts of the then government, boasting that the government’s resort to the IMF was a mark of incompetence and that the NPP would depart from the program if it was voted into office.
As part of the detraction, the NPP had even encouraged its media apologists, including Joy FM, Citi FM and Daily Guide, to deliberately tag the program as a bailout to make the government look clueless in the eyes of Ghanaians.
However, a year into the NPP assuming the reins of power, the same party which had scoffed at the IMF program during the Mahama era, now wants to extend it, rather than end it.
Observers who have followed Dr. Bawumia’s pomposity over the program are questioning how the program has changed from being a sham to being strategic to economic management under the NPP.
Most Ghanaians are wondering if the NPP’s extension of the program is an indirect way of applauding former President John Mahama and the NDC government for taking a wise decision to start the program in the first place.
Meanwhile, in the buildup to the Akufo-Addo government’s extension of the program, which the NPP said was a bailout with the IMF, there had been a lot of inconsistency in communicating the way forward.
President Akufo-Addo, Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta, Senior Minister Yaw Osafo-Maafo and Monitoring and Evaluation Minister, Dr. Anthony Akoto Osei, had publicly contradicted themselves several times.
In March, this year, the Finance Minister, in the government’s maiden budget, dubbed the ‘Asempa Budget,’ reiterated the NPP government’s rhetoric from opposition that the government would not extend the IMF program beyond the April 2018 completion date.
Mr. Ofori-Atta’s declaration had come after then Senior Minister designate, Yaw Osafo-Maafo, had hinted at his vetting by the Appointments Committee of Parliament in January that the government was nursing a desire to have the program extended.
Mr. Osafo-Maafo’s hint had later, even been corroborated by the Minister for Monitoring and Evaluation, Dr. Anthony Akoto Osei, in February.
In July, President Akufo-Addo had declared at his maiden encounter with the press at the Flagstaff House that the program was going to be ended on the scheduled date in April, 2018.
“There is no question of the IMF program being extended. It will end as agreed in April 2018.”
In fact, in that meeting with the press, the President had even hinted at government possibly opting out of the program ahead of time, which led to Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, springing to reaffirm that the program was going to end in April 2018.
It was therefore a totally unexpected tune altogether when the IMF announced last week that the government had agreed on an extension of the program to 2019.