The employment of Databank, a business co-founded by Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta, as transactional consultants for the international loans Ghana receives has been criticized by cultural and tourist icon Kwasi Kyei Darkwah (KKD) as being absurd and senseless.
“I read a report yesterday that broke my heart. I saw how much Ghana owes but I also found that apparently, the minister of finance’s company or former company, is the transaction advisor to the monies we borrow. So, as Ghana gets poorer, the minister of finance’s company or former company, gets richer”, he pointed out on state broadcaster GTV’s breakfast show hosted by Kafui Dey.
“Is this what we want to continue in this country? Do we want to elect people into office, give them their pay and perks and then allow them and their friends and their companies or their former companies to be the very beneficiaries of the woes of our country?” he questioned.
Data from the Bank of Ghana show that as of March 2022, Ghana’s overall debt stock was GH391.9 billion.
The nation’s total debt stock, according to the central bank, was US$ 55.1 billion.
Despite falling by $3 billion in the first quarter of 2022 from $55.1 billion in March to $58.4 billion in January, it rose in cedi terms as a result of the depreciation of the currency.
The cedi increase was 40 billion Ghana cedis.
In January 2022, the entire debt stock was GH351.7 billion.
The ratio of Ghana’s debt to GDP has increased to 78% as a result of the increase in the stock of debt in cedis.
The debt stock increased by almost 30% year over year between March 2021 and March 2022, from GH304.6 billion to GH391.9 billion.
From GH 181.9 billion in January to GH 189.9 billion in March, the domestic component of debt increased by GH 8 billion, or nearly 38% of the 2022 GDP projection.
In the first three months of 2022, the external component of the debt dramatically grew, rising from GH169.8 billion in January to GH201.9 billion in March, an increase of nearly GH32 billion.
In Mr Darkwah’s view, it was important for parliament to stop the plunder by passing laws that proscribe the finance minister from using his private company as a transaction advisor for state loans.
“This is not only about the minister of finance; this is about parliament; parliament, you must be ashamed of yourself. You have failed the people of Ghana, because I don’t think from the time of Nkrumah to date, whoever is the minister of finance should be benefitting every time our country goes to borrow money”, he complained.
“Is that what happened under everybody in this country? What precedent are we setting? Yesterday, when I read the report, I was so broken and I was like: ‘Do people know this?’ So, I called four different people; some in civil society, some in government, some in the former government, and they said: ‘Oh, but this is general knowledge’, and I’m like: ‘It’s general knowledge and parliament thinks it’s OK?’”, Mr Darkwah wondered.
“So, whoever wins the next election will also set up their own companies and be the transaction advisors when we go and take a loan? What is wrong with us as a people? So, the person’s motive for even going for a loan, for me, now, is not clear because every time we take a loan, their company makes money. Does this make sense to us as a people?” Mr Darkwah complained.
He said: “We have leaders of industry, some, who have been deprived of their finances and, in the meantime, the people who are sitting in power, are stealing us blind and all people can tell me is: ‘Oh, but this is general knowledge’. What sort of foolishness and nonsense is going on in this country? What a shame! What a damn shame!”
“When they are out of power, will they want whoever comes into power, to repeat what they are doing? This is not NDC, NPP. Parliamentarians, you are supposed to help us protect the public purse. You can’t just go and sit there and vote: ‘I am NPP, I am NDC’. Vote your conscience and vote your constituency”, he charged.
“You cannot become the transaction advisor for going to take loans when you are the minister of finance. How is that possible?” he stressed.
Mr Darkwah said parliament must not sit aloof and watch the status quo continue. “…Why are we doing this to ourselves? So, those of you in government want to be the only people who make all the money; everybody else should be in a fix. What kind of nonsense is that? Conflict of interest is where it starts”.
He wondered why the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) has also not intervened.
“Now water is going up, electricity is going up and some people that we have put into positions of authority, are raping the country. Why? How much of the money will you spend? You are leaving it for your children and your children know you are doing this? And your children will come and tell other children: ‘Your father didn’t work hard enough’ because you were stealing from the people. So, those children whose parents did not steal from the people, will be suffering and your foolish children will come and tell those children: ‘Your father didn’t work hard enough’. No. Their father didn’t steal state money”.
“What is this? And nobody wants to talk about it because if you talk about it, they will impoverish you. Hey, if nobody kills you, you’ll die your won natural death”, he said.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this publication do not in anyway reflect the opinions of State News Ghana