Politics

IMF is making Finance Minister work – Prof. Peprah

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Professor of Finance at Andrews University, USA, Professor Williams Peprah, says now is the time for the Finance Minister to put in the work to consolidate Ghana’s fiscal space.

According to him, while in the past Ken Ofori-Atta had merely served a rubber stamp to the whims and caprices of the government, the current International Monetary Fund supported Post Covid-19 Programme for Economic Growth (PC-PEG) means he now has to critically analyse everything that gets to his table.

Speaking on PM Express, Prof. Peprah said, “The Finance Minister, what IMF has really done is to let him work. In the past, I will say he was not working; he was just approving whatever comes on his table for payment. But now, every item that comes unto his table he’s going to ask himself ‘is it in line with the PC-PEG policy?’ So he’s not going to have that kind of enjoyment… but he has to now work.

“In the past where he agreed that within the shortest period the government should go and build 111 hospitals knowing that we don’t have the money to do that, let me put it in our language, we were balancing short term stabilization for long term development.

“But this is what must be done now, the honeymoon where he was checking everything, ‘we can pay, we can go ahead’ and do all these kind of expenses, capital expenditure items and also not checking current expenditure items that honeymoon is over and this is the time for him to work. He needs to be able to find a balance.”

He further added that the Finance Minister will have to cut back on many of his travels to take a hands-on approach in supervising government expenditure.

According to Prof. Peprah, his frequent absence could create loopholes for unnecessary expenditure to be accrued.

“And one other aspect I’ve noticed is he’s travelling too much. It is good that he builds connection with external parties, he may have to open his eyes and now follow the books himself. If he’s not removed as the finance minister and he’s going to work, he needs to sit down and check every box of expenditure that comes on his table in line with the PC-PEG programme.

“Then we can be able to say that we’ve [brought] the economy back. If not, if he keeps on travelling and people do things behind his back – and we know in Ghana this is very common – we will not get the benefit as we are expecting,” he said.

The PC-PEG, according to the Finance Minister, is supported by the three-year Extended Credit Facility (ECF) arrangement with the IMF and is built on clear targets, strong policy and structural measures.

The programme is to promote a credible fiscal consolidation programme, anchored by strong domestic revenue mobilisation and high spending efficiency.

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