Posted on: www.dailyguideghana.com
By William Yaw Owusu
Saturday, April 22, 2017
Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia has expressed surprise at the way in which the minority National Democratic Congress (NDC) is tackling issues regarding the recent $2.2 billion bond issued by the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government on the international market.
He said the minority’s position on the matter clearly shows that they lack understanding and had never understood the dynamics of the economy.
Since the turn of the week, the NDC has been taking issues with the Akufo-Addo-led government and has been pointing fingers, particularly at Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta, over how the deal was struck.
The NDC claimed the rate at which the bonds were issued was relatively high because the Finance Minister has private interests in it, alleging that a fund manager called Franklin Templeton - an American global investment firm - that participated in the transaction had ‘direct’ and ‘indirect’ links to the minister’s private business.
Strangely, the same company participated in the previous bonds issued by the erstwhile NDC administration.
Dr. Bawumia has hit back at the NDC from Washington DC, United States, where he is currently participating in the IMF/World Bank Spring Meeting, accusing the opposition of being ignorant about the whole issue.
“This shows a lack of understanding. The minority has never understood this economy and it is just amazing that people on their side who were actually in-charge of managing the economy would be making such statements. It shows ignorance. It really shows ignorance and I am so sad when I hear that from people who should know better,” he told journalists, who are covering the meeting in the United States.
“They need to understand. Maybe they should read a little,” Dr. Bawumia said, adding, “This is what politics has been reduced to - trying to say things which really have no basis and basically wrapped in ignorance. So I am a bit sad for Ghana and for them, because they are really demonstrating a lot of ignorance in the process of managing this economy.”
The NDC agitation is being led by a former Deputy Finance Minister, Cassiel Ato Forson.
The government on Monday, April 3, 2017, announced it was successful in the auction of a total of $2.25 billion in four bonds and the first two bonds, totaling $1.13 billion, were issued at 15 and 7 years periods with the same coupon of 19.75%, while in addition, the Ministry of Finance raised the cedi equivalent of $1.12 billion in 5 and 10-year bonds via a tap-in arrangement.
Town Hall Encounter
Dr. Bawumia at a town hall meeting on Monday to brief the public on achievements within the 100 days of the Akufo-Addo government had described the $2.25 billion move as the "deal of the year," and said it was essentially part of a strategy to re-profile the country's debt.
"Many people didn’t understand the transaction and thought that we have gone to borrow $2 billion to add to Ghana’s debt. No! We are actually replacing more expensive debt with less expensive debt and elongating it and making it better for this country," he explained.
The minority has been incensed by the vice president’s purported remark, describing it as ‘unpresidential.’
Mr Cassiel Ato Forson, who is said to be leading the ‘conflict of interest charge’ against the government, according to Joy FM, said he was ‘shocked’ that such comments would come from the vice president.
His colleague in parliament, Richard Quarshigah, has taken strong exception and demanded an unqualified apology from Dr Bawumia.
Mr Quarshigah, NDC MP for Keta, who is the deputy minority ranking member on the Employment Committee of Parliament, has rubbished Dr Bawumia’s description of the minority as “ignorant.”
In a statement titled, ‘Bawumia must apologise to Ghanaians and Minority in Parliament,’ Mr. Quashigah said, “If indeed those were his words, then it is not only unfortunate, but a very jaundiced conclusion to have been made by him. If indeed the reportage as put out by the media is accurate, then he is advised to learn to speak with diplomacy and dignity expected of a vice president or else before long he could cause this nation an incalculable international embarrassment.
“Assuming without admitting that the minority got it wrong, couldn't he have clarified without insults? Dr Bawumia, the current Vice President of Ghana, must do the excellent thing by withdrawing and must apologise to the good people of Ghana. The use of intemperate language is unbecoming of the vice president.”