Kwesi Bekoe Amissah-Arthur, an economist, academician and politician, has been Vice-President of Ghana since 2012. Prior to that, he was Governor of the Bank of Ghana from 2009 to 2012. Mahamudu Bawumia is also a Ghanaian economist and banker. He was a Deputy Governor of the Bank of Ghana until his nomination as the vice presidential candidate of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) in 2008, standing alongside presidential candidate Nana Akufo-Addo.
Based solely on their respective professional titles, Bawumia should ordinarily be running from Amissah-Arthur when it comes to matching wits and knowledge. So why is Vice President Amissah-Arthur the one always running for cover when he hears the name Bawumia? The truth of the matter is, while the latter actually studied economics, and continues to learn and put it into practice, the former is more interested in holding titles without lifting a finger to do the work associated with those titles.
Amissah-Arthur's tenure as Governor of the Bank of Ghana saw the cedi's value plummet from GHC1.21 to one US dollar in January of 2009, to GHC1.90 as at September of 2012 when then new President John Dramani Mahama picked him as his running mate. By the NDC's standards, Amissah-Arthur's performance at the Bank of Ghana was so "successful" that Mahama placed him squarely in charge of the economy. Bad move.
Since then, the cedi has attained the dubious distinction of being the worst performing currency in Africa, now exchanging at GHC3.95 to one US dollar. Along the way, Ghana's debt has ballooned from the GHC9.5 billion that represented the total accumulated debt since our nation's independence in 1957, to a whopping GHC111 billion. In addition to the decline of the cedi's value and the ballooning of Ghana's debt stock, just about every economic indicator has worsened since President Mahama placed Vice President Amissah-Arthur in charge of the economic management team.
Ghana's real GDP growth has steadily declined from the oil-influenced high of 14% in 2011, to 3.9% in 2015. The size of Ghana's economy, which grew by 459% during the eight NPP years without the benefit of oil, has grown only by 40% under Mahama's NDC with the benefit of oil. Despite having the most resources of any administration in Ghana's history, the Mahama-Amissah-Arthur government always finds a way to spend more than the country has. In 2012, 2013 and 2014, Ghana's fiscal deficit as a percentage of GDP (on a commitment basis) has been 12.2%, 11.7%, and 11.9% respectively. For the first time in our nation's history, double-digit fiscal deficits were recorded for three consecutive years.
With all those resources at their disposal plus uncontrolled borrowing, this administration should be liquid. Yet government contractors remain unpaid, ECG is owed hundreds of millions of cedis by the government, NHIS is collapsing, government workers are not being paid consistently, 'dumsor' remains an albatross because the government has no money to purchase fuel for the power plants the NPP built, etc, etc. Some say VP Amissah-Arthur has a good excuse. In fact, members of the underground Fante-Confederacy are privately whispering that their son could have done better had he not been reduced to a mere puppet in the Mahama administration.
When Mahama became president, he was bent on rolling back the gains that the Fantes had made in NDC. It did not help matters that when Mahama was vice president, the Atta Mills team made him completely irrelevant, thus causing him to take solace in engineering crooked deals , such as the Embraer aircraft deal with the Brazilians. According to a reliable source at the presidency, it has been Mahama's objective to deliver a similar ordeal to a vice president who happens to originate from that Fante camp.
With Amissah_Arthur out of the way cutting ribbons to open toilets in rural Ghana, Mahama and his henchmen embarked on the most massive thieving spree in our nation's history. In fact, no president on the entire continent of Africa has gotten richer in a shorter period of time than John Dramani Mahama. From massively inflated contracts to his brother and other NDC cronies, to outright thievery, Mahama and his street-boys-turned-government-officials have so destroyed Ghana's fiscal numbers that going toe to toe with Dr. Bawumia to defend the rot is something no sane person would look forward to.
This explains why Vice President Amissah-Arthur has been experiencing an uptick in his blood pressure whenever he hears Dr. Bawumia's name. He may be inept like his boss, but one thing an economist knows – even if he is not a good one – is that numbers do not lie. Thus the easier thing to do is to jump on a stage situated very far from Bawumia, and peddle lies in a one-way communication format.
But if Vice President Amissah-Arthur does not know what is going on in the Mahama administration; indeed, if like Seth Terkper the finance minister and Mahama himself, the vice president has no clue as to the truth about the deterioration in our economy, then the gentlemanly thing to do is to own up to that fact. After all, as Dr. Bawumia put it, these people do not even know how much we owe – they just keep on borrowing.
If they do not know how much Ghana owes, how can they know how to manage the economy? If Amissah-Arthur does not know how really bad the economy that he is supposedly managing is, how can he respond to Dr. Bawumia's factual assertions? Therefore, in keeping with the propagandist that he is, he has resorted to empty rhetoric. But guess what is just around the corner?
The debates are coming!
Source: NPP-USA Public Relations Committee/ghanaweb
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