IMF Bailout U-Turn: 'I Don't Think It's About An Apology Or No Apology' – Oppong Nkrumah

Information Minister Kojo has said: “I don’t think it’s about an apology or no apology” in response to demands for an apology by the government to the people of Ghana for seeking a bailout from the International Monetary Fund despite the insistence of some government officials that the Akufo-Addo administration would never resort to the Bretton Woods institution for help in coming out of the ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic and the collateral damage caused by the Russia-Ukraine war.

In Mr Oppong Nkrumah’s view, “It’s about dealing with the realities of the situations in front of us”, adding: “The reality of the situation is that we have a twin crisis that has exacerbated our domestic challenges”.

Early this year, Mr Ofori-Atta said Ghana is a “proud” nation of “strong” people with the capability to find her own solutions to problems and, thus, will not run to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for help.

Speaking at the third in a series of town hall meetings in the Northern regional capital of Tamale in February, Mr Ofori-Atta said: “… I can tell you, as my colleague Deputy Minister said, we are not going to the IMF; whatever we do, we are not; the consequences are dire, we are a proud nation, we have the resources, we have the capacity”.

“Don’t let anybody tell you – like when Joshua, Caleb and the 10 others went to spy on the Promised Land and only two of them came to say that, ‘We can do it’, and the 10 went around the community murmuring, ‘You can’t; da da da da da da’; we are not people of short sight and we had to move on, so, let’s think of us as who we are: a proud, strong people, the shining star of Africa and we have the capacity to do what we want to do if only we can speak by one language and ensure that we burden-share in the issues ahead”.

However, upon the orders of President Akufo-Addo, Mr Ofori-Atta recently opened discussions with the IMF for a bailout.

Mr Oppong Nkrumah explained the reason for the U-turn in an interview with Accra-based Citi FM on Monday, 4 July 2022.

“The domestic programme, which would have enabled us to deal with it has had its own challenges. The president has asked that we open the IMF window and start engagement with the fund. Let’s give ourselves the opportunity to go through it,” he added.

According to Mr Oppong Nkrumah, Mr Ofori-Atta will be leading Ghana’s negotiation team.

He admitted the Fund may not hold all the answers to Ghana’s economic problems talking to.

“The Fund is not a single bullet to answer all the questions that we have but if they can come to support the programme that we have on the table. The President has made that decision, and we have started putting in place the mechanisms”, Mr Oppong Nkrumah added.

On calls for Mr Ofori-Atta’s resignation, Mr Oppong Nkrumah said the Finance Minister “is responsible for fiscal policy” and “had earlier expressed a view supported by the government that it is better to use domestic measures to deal with some of these challenges than to find yourself in a situation where you need external help of this nature”.

“Unfortunately, the domestic measures have been challenged. At the time they’ve been challenged, there’s a twin global crisis that is biting hard. Any president that is feeling the pain of his people, would explore what options work best. This is the window the president wants us to open and engage with to deal with the short-term problem but at the same time deal with the bigger economic problem.”

“People think the Finance Minister is responsible for the economy. The Minister of Finance is responsible for fiscal policy, and the Bank of Ghana is responsible for monetary policy. The real sector, and broader economic policy, sit with the president, he has an economic management team under him. The president was the one who spoke to the fund’s managing director on the phone.”