Prof. Gatsi said Ghana beyond aid’ initiative lacks clarity

Prof. John Gartchie Gatsi 

A renowned economist, Prof. John Gartchie Gatsi, has said any government initiative intended to bring a major transformation in the country should have enough clarity for the people to buy into it.

With particular reference to the President’s initiative of lifting Ghana beyond aid, he said to achieve that, the initiative must have well spelt out intention covering each sector of the economy because that will offer the people the opportunity to participate in the process.

In an interview with the GRAPHIC BUSINESS on the Ghana Beyond Aid, Prof. Gatsi, who is also the Head of the Department of Finance at the School of Business, University of Cape Coast, indicated that the initiative as it is now, sounds only as a slogan without a blueprint.

“What are the policy disaggregation that should lead us to that destination of a Ghana Beyond Aid?; It is not clear how many years we have given ourselves to get there; It is not clear what our education institutions, the agric, energy, health, tourism, aviation and transport sectors should be doing to contribute to that effort to help get there,” he said.

He said Ghana’s first President, Dr Kwame Nkrumah, for instance, championed a seven-year development plan with a clear direction as to how to achieve that.

As a result, Prof Gatsi said although the intention of the Ghana Beyond Aid was good, it remained a rhetoric or a slogan without any foundation to stand on.

Ghana beyond aid

According to Prof. Gatsi, it is not out of place for a government to set an agenda for itself because already, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank (WB) have put Ghana on the path to be thinking of developing the country beyond aid.

He explained that the rebasing of the economy in 2010 statistically pushes the country into a lower middle-income status – the implication being that it will not get access to aid, grants and concessionary loans as was the case in the past.

“Therefore, we should rather be thinking of how we will grow and develop without such support. So, in this light, if a government thinks that it wants to make it a major policy instrument, it’s not bad,” he said.

The contradiction 

He said it was ironic that at the time of touting the Ghana Beyond Aid, the country continued to receive aid in its basic form and mentioned support from donor sources to fund HIV programmes, fight mosquitoes and conduct elections.

“So what are we actually talking about? What are we doing from now up to a certain point in time? There is no policy clarity that. What is very clear to all of us is that it is a slogan that the President is saying from time to time but we are not seeing any action supporting how we are driving this agenda,” he said.

Budget themes

Prof. Gatsi questioned why themes to drive the economy were given through the budget statement, yet the government still comes out with different policies.

“Mind you some of the things in the budget are not actually one year; Some are taking us to 2019 and 2020 etc. What has changed so significantly that after reading the 2018 budget we are saying Ghana Beyond Aid? The government must be consistent,” he said.

Avoiding dependency

“As we are speaking about Ghana Beyond Aid, we are still under an IMF programme and we are doing everything possible – tightening expenditure so that we meet the conditionalities of the IMF. We forget that while squeezing expenditure in such a manner, there are people who need basic necessities of life such as access to potable water, access to places of convenience and school infrastructure,” he said.

He added, “That is what has led us to where we were, and we have not done anything significant to change it.” GB

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