Ghana has made progress – Prof Botchwey

A Former Minister of Finance, Prof. Kwesi Botchwey, has observed that the country has made significant stride in its growth trajectory since independence despite skepticism of some citizens.

“We have come a very long way in our development journey as a nation since independence. Of course we have made progress since then, a lot of it.

To deny this is to do a great disservice. We have grown our Gross Domestic Product significantly, even our Human Development Index has seen some improvements,” he stated.

The former minister made this observation at a public lecture in Accra yesterday which had the theme; “State of the Nation’s Economy and Politics: 65 years after independence – The Path to Sustainable Development and Democratic Consolidation.”

Organised by the OneGhana Movement in partnership with the University of Ghana, Department of Economics and School of Social Sciences.

The lecture was designed to provide a constructive platform for engaging and shaping solutions for the socio-economic challenges and prospects of the country.

According to Professor Botchwey, though the country had made progress, more was left to be achieved.

“Behind all the sounds and furious claims and counter claims; which may not be borne out of facts, we clearly have not succeeded in liberating our full potential as a nation.

“The countries with whom we started the development race are now knocking on the doors of the first world, while we desperately cling to the more ranks of middle-income,” he observed.

With the pace at which the country is developing, he said it would not be able to move a bulk of its poor out of poverty in another generation, adding that central to the economic distress the country faced, it was the perception that it is not creditworthy.

“When money is borrowed, it is required that we put our public finances in a position to settle our debts. When servicing our debts can only be done at the expense of delivering public services, especially to the poor and vulnerable, then we are in trouble.

This is the predicament that we find ourselves in today. The issue really is not whether we go to theInternational Monetary Fund(IMF) or not. That is a red herring.

Indeed, we are a sovereign nation, and a proud one at that and can decide as to whether or not to seek after the IMF. The IMF with all its power and leverage can simply not force a programme on us or any country.”

He had thus recommended a thorough review of all sources of pressure in the budget including every flagship programme, its sustainability and impact.

“We must not for instance transition temporary spending incurred during the pandemic into permanent public spending, when we are already struggling to collect revenues.

“We should resist the lure of solutions that would further mortgage the future of young generations to come, such as collatoralising public revenue streams.  Above all, we must resist solutions that we delay hard decisions.”

In his view, there was the need to build consensus around the reforms that are necessary to resolve the nation’s credit worthiness.

It is idle, Professor Botchwey said, to pretend that the country’s economic issues could be fixed without measures that have the potential to impose hardship on the citizenry, at least in the short-term.

BY JULIUS YAO PETETSI

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