Nana Akomea

THE OPPOSITION New Patriotic Party (NPP) yesterday shot back at the Mills administration on its attempts to impugn the integrity of Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, the party’s presidential running mate, after he punched holes into government’s so-called enviable economic performance.

A recent lecture on the country’s state of the economy by the NPP vice-presidential candidate appeared to have unsettled the Mills administration as the Ministry of Finance issued scathing attacks on the one-time deputy governor of the Bank of Ghana.

A statement issued by NPP Communications Director, Nana Akomea, said Dr Bawumia’s lecture was considered a detailed analysis of the state of Ghana’s economy, based on official data.

According to the statement, the lecture left the Government’s claims of unprecedented achievements and its economic record in tatters and exposed.

“Not a single statistic can be or has been challenged. It was a lecture devoid of insults or personal attacks,” it noted.

The statement said the economy had been exposed by Dr Bawumia as being in a weak position, despite all the claims and attempts by the NDC to hoodwink Ghanaians.

Dr. Bawumia, it added, had woken Ghanaians up to the NDC’s mismanagement of the economy and it would be shown the exit come December 2012.

“It is clear that the only option left for the NDC is to attack Dr. Bawumia’s credibility but they have failed miserably and will continue to fail,” the statement noted.

President John Mills

It said while such exposure of the true facts relating to the state of the economy had no doubt caused discomfort to and incurred the displeasure of government, the response of the Ministry of Finance was unfortunately unbecoming of such an important state institution.

“Rather than sticking to the facts, the Ministry of Finance, on behalf of Government, has misrepresented the facts and continued to obfuscate and mislead rather than dealing with the substantive issues raised by Dr. Bawumia,” the statement added.

“It is important that we shield our hardworking civil servants from politics because they have to work with all governments,” it warned.

Government’s response sought to indicate that in examining the economy and the current inflation figures, the NPP vice-presidential candidate attacked the Ghana Statistical Service.

However, the NPP’s statement reproduced what Dr. Bawumia actually said during the Ferdinand Ayim Memorial lecture on Page 15 of the paper he presented which states that “The key question that is on the minds of many Ghanaians is: “Do we really have single-digit inflation in Ghana today?” While I do not want to argue with or question the integrity of our hard working officials at the Ghana Statistical Service who do a good job under very difficult circumstances, and should indeed be resourced (and given more independence) to do the work they do, I will like to state that the available evidence indicates that statistically reported single digit inflation is not consistent with the economic fundamentals and developments in some key economic indicators relating to the cost of living, interest rates and exchange rates. It could be a measurement issue, but the established relationships between inflation and key economic variables appear to have gone missing for now”.

The statement said that was by no means an attack on the Ghana Statistical Service, stating that Dr. Bawumia was pointing out that “what the Statistical Service is capturing or measuring is not being reflected in price developments in our shops and markets and most people in Ghana cannot relate to the talk about single digit inflation when they get to the market”.

According to the statement, Dr. Bawumia’s lecture went further to note that the developments in prices of some common items, even within the last year (e.g. maize prices in Bolgatanga market which have risen by 60% between 2011 and 2012) appeared inconsistent with single digit inflation.

With regard to the price changes of selected consumer items presented by Dr. Bawumia, the statement said, he was careful to note, “I should add that these price changes do not necessarily mean that single digit inflation is not possible. It would depend on what is being measured and over what period. What we see of price increases for basic commodities in our markets over the last year is that they are increasingly volatile and definitely at rates beyond single digits”.

The statement noted that somehow, the NDC conveniently forgot what Dr. Bawumia said in their attempt to distort the facts.

Dr. Bawumia, it noted, further pointed out that “when it comes to established relationships between the cost of living, interest rates and exchange rates, the single digit inflation in Ghana is not consistent with what we expect to see. If single digit inflation is meaningless for cost of living, interest rates, exchange rates, and jobs, what is it for? …I would however leave the judgment on whether we actually have single digit inflation to Ghanaians who shop in our markets every day.  Nevertheless I think it is time for Ghana to have a truly independent and well-resourced statistical service”.

The statement said, “The attempt by the Ministry of Finance to use the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) as a fig leaf to hide from its own embarrassment, following Dr. Bawumia’s revealing assessment of the true state of the economy is an attempt to court public sympathy by misleading Ghanaians.”

According to the statement, Dr. Bawumia was only calling for more resources and independence of the Statistical Service in the same way that NPP Government granted independence to the Bank of Ghana.

“Indeed, the very attempt by the Ministry of Finance to defend the GSS only buttresses Dr. Bawumia’s call for independence of the GSS. Is the GSS not able to defend itself if it feels under attack? Raising questions about data anomalies is normal.

“Were we all not in this country when after questioning our data, the IMF found out that in 2000 the Bank of Ghana deliberately misreported data to the International Monetary Fund for which the country was fined some $38 million dollars? Has the independence granted the Bank of Ghana in 2002 not helped?” the statement quizzed.

By Awudu Mahama

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