Former Minister of Finance, Seth Terkper has disagreed that the country has ‘turned the corner’ in its race to overcome the economic challenges faced over the last few years.
Reacting to comments by the Minister of Finance Ken Ofori-Atta that the economy had turned a corner in the face of the ongoing economic difficulties, Mr. Terkper noted that though some modest progress has been made due to the International Monetary Fund bailout programme and some interventions, major concerns, including hold out in the debt exchange programme, still remain and that much more needs to be done to ease the challenges.
“Because of the Fund, you will definitely make some progress but I am afraid you have not turned the corner. We have not completed even our domestic debt exchange programme, there is still a hold out. We are yet to complete the domestic debt exchange and the minister indicated that we could finish with the external debt exchange in December.
“So, the progress he mentioned, yes, it is progress, in that, thanks to international intervention, we were able to go to the board. He has indicated December, which means that we have not wrapped the future of our debt, the status of it. We continue to accumulate interest because we have defaulted and we have not paid,” he said.
During his presentation of the mid-year fiscal policy review of the 2023 Budget Statement and Economic Policy in parliament in Accra, Mr. Ofori-Atta indicated that the country has ‘turned the corner’, signifying that after facing significant hardship in 2022, the economy is making progress and an end to the challenges is within sight.
“We have turned the corner and, more importantly, we are determined to continue down that path. Soon, we expect the measures taken resulting in economic activity greater than anything experienced in the history of the Fourth Republic. It is no exaggeration to say we cannot find another period in our history where so many different headwinds hit our economy at the same time with unrelenting speed and scale. Thankfully, as the numbers are beginning to show and as many Members of Parliament have indicated to me in our engagements, we have, together as a nation, turned the corner,” he said.
He added that: “We have avoided the unimaginable, but what could have been so easily possible under different leadership circumstances. With a lot of effort, we have managed to avoid empty shop shelves for medicines and other essentials; we have seen no shortages of food; we have been spared the frustrating spectre of long queues for fuel at our filling stations; and, we have managed, despite all the challenges, to keep the lights on”.
However, Mr. Terkper disagreed with the minister’s assertion, saying: “If we look at the task ahead of us in terms of an IMF programme that will open the door even for government expenditure beyond financing it with almost exclusively Treasury bills and multilateral and bilateral flows, we are looking far into the corner; we have not gotten there yet”.