10 things we learned on Newsfile from Eurobond to Airbus
On February 8, 2019, Joy FM’s news and current affairs programme, Newsfile, took on some of the week’s most topical issues—Ghana’s oversubscribed Eurobond outing, the performance of the Economy and the banking sector and then the controversial Airbus scandal and the scandalous missing excavators seized from illegal miners.
TheGhanaReport.com monitored and brings you 10 things we learned.
Celebrating debt for the next generation
- For the first time in many years, Newsfile opened with a two-man banter one that lacked the counter-arguments viewers are used to—It was just the host, Samson Lady Anyenini and the soft-spoken Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta. Bloomberg reported that Ghana sold $750 million 41-year old bond, which became Africa’s longest-ever Eurobond. The fund-raising is part of a $3 billion deal that was almost five times oversubscribed. With an interest rate of 8.875 per cent, it is still an African record. Put a politician and a bragging right together without an opponent to counter the claims and you have a happy Minister of Finance on Newsfile. He believes it’s a cheap capital given the country’s image before its creditors before 2017 but gave all the credit to the present administration. “Be as it may, it is not perfect but when you bring inflation down to single-digit, it means something. When your growth moves from an anaemic three per cent to seven per cent, that is twice or double. It must mean something,” he says of the management of the economy.
The Finance Minister wants you to forget about the struggles of the local currency, which have been struggling with epileptic seizures (depreciation) against the dollar and other major trading currencies, and focus on how far the country has come in the last three years “resulting in a cost of capital drop for the nation.” Ghana’s debt to gross domestic product (GDP) is fodder on almost every discussion on the economy. The World Bank also warned of potential debt distress as the country’s coffers open wider to borrow as a means of closing its deficit. But Mr Ken Ofori-Atta who had no co-panellist to point out the effects of huge debts on an economy said even the United States and Japan owe.
“It is not that you should not borrow but you should borrow with care,” he said but that is no different from his predecessor, Seth Tekper, who touted smart borrowing but had to be saved by an IMF bailout in 2015.
It’s a record, only this time there will be no kenkey party.
The Peter and Paul economics
- Before going to the market, the government had budgeted for $ 3 billion to be borrowed. It is more like a man adding a yet- to be borrowed funds to his household income before going for the loan. So how does the government intend to spend the cash? A billion dollars is going into settling the bills of Independent Power Producers. The IPPs have been threatening to plunge the country into darkness for a while now. This is an election year. The people need to see the faces of government officials making the next round of promises to be kept and broken. Only electricity will help the illumination. Another billion is going into paying past debts— a move towards cutting down interest payments on the country’s mountain of debts. This is the strategy, If Peter is on your neck because of debt, just borrow from Paul to pay him. You will owe Paul not Peter for another generation. The last tranche of a billion dollars will support flagship programmes including Planting for Food and Jobs, rural development and roads—Yes! It is an election year and this is the ‘year of roads’—an important part of the campaign message.
Macroeconomics, not okro economics
- Macro stability, not the stability of prices of okro in Krobo-Odumase market, is the main focus of the finance minister. He has eyes on the bigger picture: keeping inflation down, lower interest rates and pin down the cedi. With the host of Newsfile Samson Lardy Anyenini , voicing the cries on the streets that the government economic achievements are not filing pockets with cash. The Finance Minister believes his host is parroting populists’ claims. But was quick to add that it is important the reason for which the removal of nuisance taxes and the implementation of free SHS, planting for food and jobs and other interventions will reflect in people’s pockets. The Minister of Finance fears to lose his job, after 2021, assuming the elephants stays in the Jubilee House. It is the reason he will stick to spending within the budget, and not out of it, in an election year, when budgets are thrown to the dogs and over-spending the order of the day. After all, elections must be won at a price.
The market woman’s share of the $ 3 billion
- Here are three things the okro seller in Krobo-Odumase should expect from the $ 3 billion borrowed on her behalf, according to the finance minister. It means that if your child is in SHS, he or she is guaranteed funding. if it is about the cedi being boxed out of shape by the dollar, it will be helpful for the local currency’s stability. The National Health Insurance Scheme will get better and hospitals won’t have the dubious reputation for giving only paracetamols and issuing prescriptions for patients to buy medications outside their walls.
Financial sector crisis: The taxpayer pays the taxpayer
- Anxious depositors are waiting in the shadows of banking halls to collect their locked-up funds. The government says it will pay every pesewa owed. The Finance Minister says GHc 3 billion will be needed to settle every one of them into happy folks. But guess how much is in the coffers $180 million. Poor Sampson didn’t have the faith of his biblical namesake and kept asking if all these payments will be done this year, to which Mr Ofori-Atta responds “it has to happen. We need to pack that behind us and move forward”
Image redemption for Special Prosecutor
- “One man’s meat is another man’s poison” that is the popular maxim which means someone’s misfortune is another’s blessings. It is so with Special Prosecutor, at least that is what public interest lawyer, Martin Kpebu says. He wants the ‘Citizen Vigilante’ who has become a ‘Citizen Observer’ ever since he was appointed as Special Prosecutor to use the investigations into the Airbus scandal to redeem his image and restore public confidence in him. Mr Amidu needs to be able to finish the investigation quickly “because people’s reputation is at stake and even apart from that, as Ghanaians, we are also curious”.
“So far we have been interested in the conspiracy theories far more than reaching out to Mr Amidu to find out what he is doing because you know, so far, Mr Amidu’s support and the euphoria we all had on his appointment has fast dwindled”.
“This one is a make or breaks for him,” he explains.
Martin Amidu owes Ghanaians a green book
- The Special Prosecutor owes Ghanaians a green book, or he could choose whichever colour for its cover. But he does owe us one says Martin Kpebu, who was less than impressed that two years after coming into office, the Special Prosecutor is yet to publish reports of his work. Such is the damning verdict on the Special Prosecutor that Mr Kpebu stifles a laugh talking about Mr Amidu’s abortive attempt to prosecute Bawku Central Member of Parliament, Mahama Ayariga.
Independent inquiry, not Special Prosecutor’s investigations
- A private legal practitioner, Bobby Branson, wants an independent committee to investigate the recent Airbus corruption saga and not a Martin Amidu-led Special Prosecutor’s Office. Mr Banson believes an opinion given on the purchase of the military aircraft by Mr Amidu, the then Attorney-General, even though he might not be privy to the detailed business aspect of the transaction, makes it more prudent to opt for the enquiry. “This is not something that should have been left to the Office of the Special Prosecutor [headed by Mr Amidu],” But the General Secretary of the Ghana Medical Association, Dr Justice Yankey, who dropped a surgeon’s knife, to trade legal opinions with his peers at Bar, disagrees saying a government white paper on the issue after an independent investigation will only fuel a political cacophony.
Chase Airbus for ‘kickback refund
9. Ghana does not need to chase the United State of America, the United Kingdom and France to have a bite of the 3 billion pound fine imposed on the aerospace giant, Airbus, for bribing its way to sell its wares to governments and airlines. Mr Kpebu, Mr Banson and Dr Yankey said the country could make a case at an international court for value for money since there was a possibility that the country loss money from the deal.
Galamsey fight loss sign was on the wall
10. There was a sign on the wall right from the beginning that galamsey fight had been lost the moment Mr Charles Bissue, the Secretary of the Inter-Ministerial Taskforce on Illegal Mining was caught on tape receiving money says Mr Banson. Then he profoundly says “galamsey is not an NDC or NPP fight. It’s a fight to save Ghana.” He stretches the argument to say that the seized excavators by law are to be used for the benefit of the state but their disappearance could mean causing financial law to the state.