The government’s maiden town hall
meeting addressed by the Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia and other members
of the Economic Management Team (EMT) on Wednesday has drawn diverse reactions
from economists and associations.
Reacting to the meeting in an interview
with the Ghanaian Times yesterday, Professor John Gatsi, an economist and Head
of Finance Department at the University of Cape Coast said it was not out of place
for the government to engage the people on developments in the economy but the
discussion needed to be put in proper context.
For instance, he said the Vice President’s
analysis did not take into consideration the rebasing of the economy which
reduced the country’s debt to GDP ratio.
He also discounted Dr Bawumia’s
assertion that the recent cedi depreciation, was not due to weak fundamentals
but external factors, saying the same external factors should have been
considered in his analysis while the ruling government was in opposition.
According to him, the policy being
considered to check the black market was already in existence and that it was
the responsibility of the Bank of Ghana to check their activities.
He welcomed the slashing of the benchmark
value for imports but hoped that it would not be a repetition of the
announcements in the 2017 budget when the decreases announced did not reflect reality.
He doubted if the reduction
would take immediate effect as it would have to go through processes including parliamentary
Professor Godfred Alufar Bokpin, Finance
Department, University of Ghana, observed that the government could
do more despite its enviable macroeconomic indicators compared to its processor.
He said preferred standard of measuring
economic performance should be the Human Development Indicator, Social
Progression Index and Happiness Index, among others.
“Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth is
not enough. Way back in the 1930s where the whole concept of GDP growth came
into being a measure of economic growth, it came with its own weaknesses but we
have lived with it up to this time and that is why other indicators have been
“Let us look at where we could be, and
compare ourselves to our proper peers with the middle-income regime, that will
be very helpful,” he said.
He said, “Admittedly, we have made some
progress in the last two years but we could have done better.”
He urged the government to exploit
fully the potentials of the economy to the development of the people.
Citing shortfalls in revenue
mobilisation as a case in point, he lamented how “revenue envelope has remained
dwarfed from the previous government up until now. We have more than six
million people in tax paying positions but just 1.5millin people pay tax in the
country”, he said.
The lecturer opined further that “debt
sustainability analysis made on Ghana suggests that the country had not made
Chief Executive Officer of the Association
of Ghana Industries, Seth Twum Akwaboah said the benchmark duty reduction does
not mean a reduction in duties.
He said that the benchmark values do not
“add much” because they become inapplicable if importers are
declaring the right values.
He admitted, however, that a total invoice value reduction in import rates would have grave effects on Ghanaian industries, suggesting that would have opened the flood gates for imports.
By Kingsley Asare & Jonathan Donkor
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