The recent State of the Nation Address by the President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has received criticism from economist and Professor of Finance at the University of Ghana – Godfred Bokpin, who has debunked the claims of prudent financial management by his administration.
According to the Professor, the government’s reckless borrowing and spending is evident in the economic challenges facing the country today.
In a speech read by the President during the state of the nation’s address (SONA), His Excellency Akufo-Addo acknowledged the legitimate questions being raised about the country’s debt situation, but defended his government’s borrowing and spending, citing the urgent need for infrastructure development such as roads, bridges, and schools.
The President further argued that the debts being serviced were not only contracted during his administration, and that there are projects to show for the borrowings made.
“Mr. Speaker, we have spent money on things that are urgent, to build roads and bridges and schools, to train our young people and equip them to face a competitive world. Considering the amount of work that still needs to be done on the state of our roads, the bridges that have to be built, considering the number of towns and villages that still do not have access to potable water, I daresay no one can suggest we have over borrowed or spent recklessly.
“Yes, I have been in a hurry to get things done, and this includes massive developments in agriculture, education, health, irrigation, roads, rails, ports, airports, sea defense, digitization, social protection programmes, industrialization and tourism. We can be justifiably proud of the many things we have managed to do in the past six (6) years” he said.
However, Professor Bokpin has countered the President’s claims by stating available facts that indicate that the government has been reckless in its borrowing and spending.
The Professor pointed out that Ghana is struggling for the first time to secure an IMF bailout, and that the government had to give a haircut to people’s bonds and investments. These actions, according to Prof. Bokpin, are indicative of the government’s financial mismanagement.
Furthermore, Prof. Bokpin criticized the government’s lack of transparency and accountability in its COVID-19 expenditure. He noted that it took the IMF to compel the government to account for its COVID-19 expenditure, which suggests that the government was not ready to be accountable and responsible.
The criticisms made by Bokpin highlight the need for governments to be transparent and accountable in their financial management. The COVID-19 pandemic has placed a strain on the finances of many countries, and the need for prudent financial management is more important now than ever.
The IMF and other international organizations have provided financial assistance to many countries, but this assistance should not be seen as a solution to financial mismanagement.