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The Managing Directors of the Graphic Communications Group Ltd, Mr Kenneth Edem Ashigbey, and Stanbic Bank Ghana, Mr Alhassan Andani, have called for a concerted effort to find solutions to the country's perennial election year deficits so as to give confidence to the investor community in the economy. 
Speaking at the Graphic Business Stanbic Bank Breakfast Meeting in Accra, Mr Andani said fiscal deficits and throwing the macroeconomc environment out of gear due to upcoming elections had proven to be very costly to the economy, as investors would normally hold their investments awaiting the outcomes of elections, a situation that needed to be reversed.

He said having quite rightly chosen democracy as the way to govern, the associated elections had proven to be very expensive, not just the cost of putting it together but the anxiety it created, especially in this part of the world. 

Mr Andani revealed that those of them in the financial services sector who interacted with the domestic investors and external investors understood first-hand the real cost of elections, saying since January most of Stanbic Bank's conversations with external investors had been on how the December 7 elections would turn out, where they had to assure them that nothing would happen.

However, he said, what had continued to bedevil the democratic dispensation had been the way the economy was managed and the consequences of how to run a stable economy outside the rigours of elections.

"For example, we should be mindful the way government would run to ensure that everything we do in an election year is within our normal frame of running our economy. It should have very little bearing with the civil democratic choices we make," Mr Andani stressed.

Mr Andani believes that truly having democratic processes without destabilising the economy and therefore "removing the huge cost of everybody waiting till after elections, which takes a whole year to correct" was the way to assuring external investors especially to have faith in the economy.

For his part, Mr Ashigbey chronicled how since 1992 the economy had slipped into gaping deficits every four to eight years when there were national elections.

He said the fiscal indiscipline, which cut across ruling parties, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the New Patriotic Party (NPP), required leaders at all levels to come out with pragmatic solutions to end it perpetually.

The business leaders were leading discussions on the theme, Election year budget deficits: Implications for macroeconomic stability.

The 1992 elections saw the economy slip from a surplus equivalent to 1.9 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 1991 to a deficit of 4.9 per cent of GDP after the elections.

Then in 2008, another election year, a four per cent budget deficit target turned out to be 11.5 per cent, with the 2012 election year overspending settling at 11.8 per cent, instead of 6.7 per cent of GDP target.

"We have leaders in both categories, the politicians and the electorate. We need to come up with a Ghanaian solution to this canker that has bedeviled us for some time now," Mr Ashigbey stated.

The MD of the Graphic Group explained that collaboration with Stanbic Bank and Busy 4G was part of the quest by Graphic Business, the business news weekly of the Graphic Group, to offer tye platform to examine the challenge and propose solutions.

"As a newspaper, the Graphic Business is always looking for the best ways to help the business community to have relevant information for their day-to-day as well as strategic business decisions," Mr Ashigbey stated.
Source: Daily Graphic

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