Dr Nii Moi Thompson: Ofori-Atta’s fiscal sermon and his doomsday GDP prophecy

The Public Financial Management Act (2016) requires every finance minister to present a fiscal review (of the budget and the economy) to Parliament every July. The current finance minister, however, has steadily degraded the exercise into a comical display of incoherent biblical quotations, completely disregarding the ‘koko’ and ‘koosey’ issues that matter most to Ghanaians. He was at it again on 31st July 2023 when he appeared in the People’s House.

He began in the 6th paragraph after the usual parliamentary niceties by hailing “the Psalmist” (Psalm 118:23) for saving Ghana from “empty shop shelves” and other calamities after Covid. He then went secular (and circular) and somehow attributed the Psalmist’s heavenly work to “investments we have collectively made during this difficult period since March 2020.”

He soon reverted to the spiritual and reminded us that “This can only be the doing of the Lord and it’s marvellous in our sight”. By the 10th paragraph, he was waffling again, suggesting that, despite all the great works of the Psalmist and the Lord, by July 2022 Ghanaians had become “despondent and the future was uncertain”.

The government thus begged the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for our 17th bailout in 56 years.

And then he said, with a straight face, that thanks to the IMF (not the Psalmist or the Lord), “our steps are more grounded, the vision is clearer, we are confident about the future, and we can all sense the recovery.”

He seemed oblivious to the warning in Exodus 20:7 that “Thou shall not take the name of thy God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.”

After more double-talk and dubious analyses, he ended his fiscal sermon with a doomsday prophecy of GDP growth of only 1.5% in 2023, down from the 2.8% he had prophesied earlier in the year, and about half the 3.1% recorded in 2022. In effect, Ghanaians will be moving forward in reverse in 2023. He’s playing ‘chaskele’ with our lives.

To recover from this childish and confusing sermon, I turned to a favourite reggae song, “The Shepherd,” by Culture, in which they quote Jeremiah 23 and warn ominously: “Woe to the careless shepherd that lead Jah righteous sheep astray.” God doesn’t like being mocked, especially by people who talk from both corners of their mouths (Galatians 6:7).

But we still must ask how 33 million Ghanaians could allow themselves to be held hostage by one hopelessly incompetent man, a fake preacher whose mismanagement has wrecked the economy and led Jah’s righteous children astray. (There are now Ghanaians on the Mexico-US border seeking asylum in the USA).

He’s the very embodiment of not just incompetence but also rank hypocrisy.

In 2019, he lambasted his predecessors for going on a “borrowing spree” after the economy was re-calculated (rebased) in 2010 and found to be bigger than previously thought.

But he did even worse following the 2018 rebasing under his watch.

He borrowed $2 billion in Eurobonds in 2018 alone, and by 2021 he had racked up $11 billion in Eurobonds over a four-year period, compared to the $4.5 billion issued by his predecessor in five years. He accounts for over 74% of all Eurobonds since the first issue in 2007.

Read More