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The Open Letter To the President: The one Big Decision of Replacing Ken Ofori Atta

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OPEN LETTER TO H.E. THE PRESIDENT

Dear Mr. President,

THE ONE BIG DECISION – REPLACING KEN, IF AT ALL!

The past few weeks must have been among the most difficult for you. You have not only contended with your political opposition but, ironically, with members of your party over none other than, undoubtedly, one of your foremost confidants and trusted lieutenants. The ask for the head of Ken Ofori-Atta, in your case, may be akin to the ask for a part of your soul. We may love or hate you, but for sure, we can’t take this from you: You don’t take loyalty to your team lightly.

The demand of the 98 or so NPP MPs for the Finance Minister to go, despite the many overtures you have made to appease them, seems to suggest that the exit of Ken Ofori Atta (KOA) has become almost inevitable. Maintaining and superintending this deadlock will make the country ungovernable. History will not be kind to us if we have no lessons to learn from the executive-parliament impasse of the 3rd Republic. I hold nothing against KOA. I believe he has done his bit and run his race, but Ghana is bigger than us all. We must be humble about our reality if we can’t change its tide. Unsurprisingly, the political hawks in your party have lined up in pursuit of his position or to influence his replacement. I can understand the politics. Unfortunately, the dire situation we find ourselves in as an economy and to a material extent, as a country, transcends the party politicking characteristic of our time.

Mr. President, the value of our Euro bonds, for example, has fallen by over 60% in barely a year and same can be said of the value of our Cedi. Respectfully, this sudden drop for any financial market is catastrophic. It is inspired by a loss of confidence in government policy and information credibility on the local and international financial markets. In simple terms, the market does not trust what government says it has done or intends to do. We have simply lost fiscal credibility and it is tied to the political frame of the leadership of the financial sector. Any competent analyst will tell you that the market wants the head of KOA more than the politicians. The market holds him responsible (whether fairly or unfairly) for failing to hold the fiscal line and marshal the discipline required for our debt sustainability. Making E-levy so central to fiscal policy only for its forecasting to woefully fail as well as the debt ratios and his anti-IMF stubbornness did him and us no good.

To make matters worse, inflation and the depreciation of the currency have migrated macro-economic jargons from their obscure place of academic speak to the very present reality of the average Ghanaian. In other words, we can feel it in our pockets. Ghanaians describe this in three Akan words: “Kurom Ay3 Hye”. Unfortunately, in such times, it is the Finance Minister the people see and think of.

Mr. President, your appointment (if you will have to make one) of the next Finance Minister will easily be the most important decision you will be making on the economy as you wrap up your tenure in office. Your decision must be inspired by Ghana’s economic recovery and not your party’s electoral viability in 2024. Mr. President, it is time to think about the next generation and not the next election. It is time for patriotic leadership.

With fiscal credibility lost, the market does not just need an IMF. It needs credible fiscal leadership even more. Your appointment of the next Finance Minister must be purely hinged on competence and financial market credibility. Having said this, the out-and-out politician in your party and overt party sympathizer will not inspire the credibility the market seeks. To be blunt, none of your current MPs and Ministers can offer what this market needs. The market will not have tolerance for an appointee who is likely to sacrifice fiscal discipline for party political considerations in an election year when fiscal recklessness is often the name of the game.

Senyo K. Hosi

Finance and Economic Policy Analyst

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