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Last updateSam, 31 Jan 2015 7pm


Economic challenges, Rawlings’ call for cabinet reshuffle in the press

Press/Ghana - President John Mahama’s defence of measures to stabilise the economy, especially the local currency, and a call by former President Jerry John Rawlings, who is the Founder of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC), were some of the stories reported in the media this week.

On Tuesday, the state-owned Ghanaian Times reported under the headline “Cabinet endorses Bog's anti-dollarisation measures” that Cabinet had approved measures taken by the central bank to end the dollarisation of the economy and ultimately restore the stability of the Ghana cedi, the local currency.

It accordingly directed state agencies to fully support efforts by the Bank of Ghana (BoG) in the implementation of the measures.

It said Cabinet on Monday met with the Governor of BoG at the Flagstaff House, the seat of government, to clarify a number concerns arising from measures announced by the central bank last week to address the depreciation of the cedi.

“The meeting took note of recent developments in the global economy, especially exchange rate adjustments in emerging and frontier economies, and observed that some emerging economies had fared far worse than Ghana,” the newspaper reported.

The newspaper also reported President Mahama’s support for the stringent economic measures under the headline “Let’s have confidence in the cedi – President.”

It said President Mahama, who attended a press briefing for a select group of journalists by the Minister of Finance, Seth Terkper and Minister of Trade and Industry, Haruna Iddrisu on Wednesday, called on Ghanaians, especially the business community, to have confidence in the cedi since that was the only way to protect it against depreciation.

He said the clamour for foreign currencies, particularly the dollar and the pound sterling, by Ghanaians for domestic financial transactions, would not help in enhancing the integrity and stability of the economy.

“If all of us don’t have faith in the cedi when is the cedi going to be strong?” he asked.

He said business operators needed to consider the implementation of recent measures by the Bank of Ghana to halt the dollarisation of the economy, as a joint responsibility in protecting the local currency.

The state-owned Graphic, under the headline “Measures to save the cedi painful but necessary – President declares”, said President Mahama said that the measures might be painful, but were necessary to ensure the stability of the economy.

“These are difficult decisions to take, but they are meant to protect the integrity of the economy and show good results down the line,” he said.

The Graphic said President Mahama likened the measures to a bitter pill that must be swallowed and which would eventually inure to the benefit of the economy as a whole.

President Mahama said the Attorney-General was working on the review of the stability agreement between the government and oil producing companies.

He said to further curb the growing import bill, the government would include a provision in the review of the Procurement Law that would require companies to justify the importation of items for public projects for which substitutes were available locally.

He noted that about US$1 billion was spent on the importation of seven items per annum, although they could be sourced or produced locally.

They include rice, vegetable oil, sugar and frozen foods, whose import amounted to about half of the foreign exchange the country earned from its chief export, cocoa.

“Rawlings calls for cabinet reshuffle,” was the headline of the Graphic on Friday on the former President’s call for an immediate ministerial reshuffle by President Mahama to drop those he called 'non-performing ministers' and replace them with experienced and competent ones.

According to him, the performance of the government so far indicated that a number of government appointees were simply not up to the task.

Rawlings said the changes should have taken place towards the end of last year “when Ghanaians had actually reached their saturation point with what they perceived as the incompetence or non-performance of some of the appointees, but it didn’t happen”.

“Of course, a sizeable percentage of them I don’t think were good enough and they demonstrated it with their time in office. I don’t think this is a matter of opinion really. I think we can all see the result of their work. If they had performed better, things would have been different,” he said.

He disagreed that the young appointees should be given time to find their grip, saying, “There are a lot of personalities in the National Democratic Congress (NDC) with a lot of experience. This is not the time to be a learning in government. No, no, no. We have people with a lot of experience, a lot of integrity who could have helped and provided wise counsel.”

But government issued a statement on Friday dismissing 'rumours' of an impending cabinet reshuffle.

'Cabinet reshuffle: Government says it's rumour,' was the headline of the story carried by the Ghanaian Times on Saturday.

It said the government had debunked assertions that it was on the verge of reshuffling ministers, saying President Mahama did not intend doing so.

It explained that the issue of an impending reshuffle was a mere rumour and that the President would not be railroaded into doing so at the behest of rumour mongers.

'Government will like to state that the reports are an elementary political tactic designed to stay the hand of the president, assuming he plans to undertake a reshuffle, or to stampede His Excellency into carrying out a reshuffle if he intends otherwise,' the statement said.

Pana 16/02/2014