Majority MPs agree on Ofori-Atta’s stay in office

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Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta

The Majority Caucus in Parliament has acceded to President Akufo-Addo’s appeal to allow the Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, and the Minister of State at the Finance Ministry, Charles Adu Boahen, stay in office till after the IMF negotiation is done.

A press statement released by the Majority Leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, said the Minister of Finance would stay “until the conclusion of the round of negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).”

He also added that Mr Ofori-Atta would remain in office till “the presentation of the Budget Statement and Economic Policy in November 2022, and the subsequent passage of the Appropriation Bill after which time the demand will be acted upon”.

The Majority Leader disclosed that after deliberations among the Majority Caucus on Wednesday, October 26, 2022, it was agreed to accede to the President’ appeal.

Appeal

At a meeting with the aggrieved MPs at the Jubilee House, the President was said to have indicated that terminating the appointment of Mr. Ofori-Atta, as demanded by some Majority MPs, would disrupt the negotiations towards the IMF programme.

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The President was said to have appealed for calm, while calling on the MPs to allow “Ken Ofori-Atta to be given three more weeks to conclude the IMF negotiations”.

Mr Ofori-Atta has come under immense pressure to resign from his post, with the most recent coming from a section of the governing New Patriotic Party’s MPs.

The lawmakers, numbering about 80, had called for his dismissal, claiming that would boost government’s chances of restoring confidence in the economy.

According to them, the continuous stay of Mr Ofori-Atta in office was also delaying the IMF bailout.

They had thus petitioned the President to either remove him or face a boycott in Parliament.

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“If our request is not responded to positively, we will not be present for the budget hearing, neither will we participate in the debate,” Mr Andy Appiah-Kubi, spokesperson for the Majority caucus and MP for Asante-Akim North, indicated

In Ken’s defence

Meanwhile, a development economist, George Domfe, has rejected the calls to sack the Finance Minister, insisting that there is no basis for President Nana Akufo-Addo to relieve him of his duties.

According to him, Mr Ofori-Atta cannot be blamed for the current economic woes Ghana is facing.

In an interview on Accra-based Peace FM, he said the Minister had discharged his duties excellently and cannot be blamed for the current economic struggles fueled by external factors.

“When you look at Ghana’s growth trajectory prior to 2020, it is clear that the Finance Minister did an excellent job in managing the economy. However, the influx of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war has eroded the gains,” Mr Domfe said.

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“Cast your mind back to 2017 when he took over as Finance Minister…He managed to stabilise the dollar for a very long time. The dollar, until this year, was selling at GHC6. This shows the kind of work he did to stabilise it.

“Unfortunately, the US decided to hike their prime rates which is forcing our cedi to fall rapidly. So, I don’t understand the call for his dismissal,” he added.

He also cited the instrumental role Mr Ofori-Atta played in steering the country towards sound economic footing prior to 2020.

Notably, he said, the Minister was able to keep the country’s inflation at a single digit, supervised the implementation of the Fiscal Responsibility Act, and managed to achieve a 7% economic growth in 2019.

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