Ben Ofosu-Appiah, Tokyo, JAPAN.
Only last week I wrote an article here on how we black folks sometimes allow our critical faculties, our ability to rationalize and think critically and have a pragmatic and scientific evaluation of facts and the evidence to be drown out by blind and unquestionable acceptance of things that defy reason and logic and are packaged and sold to us in the name of religion.
Everybody knows that the Ghana cedi has been in a free fall and the government has proven incapable so far in dealing with the situation. Investor confidence in the economy is low and business confidence in the country is reported to be at an all time low according to a recent report in the Daily Graphic.
The cedi has already depreciated by three per cent against the major international currencies this month. The US dollar, which sold at Ghc2.20 on the local foreign exchange market before Christmas last year, now sells at Ghc2.60. The British pound, which sold at Ghc3 now sells at Ghc4.20. The euro and CFA are also selling at Ghc3.50 and Ghc4.80 respectively. In 2013, the local currency suffered 17-per cent depreciation. The year-on-year depreciation shows a 21.96 per cent depreciation of the cedi against the dollar; 28.88 per cent against the pound sterling; 23.98 per cent against the euro and 25.54 per cent against the Swiss franc.
To be honest, the Bank of Ghana recently injected $20 million into critical areas of the economy as part of efforts to shore up the cedi but this will barely scratch the surface of the problem. The government has proven inefficient in its handling of the economy so when Archbishop Duncan -Williams had the President, the Finance Minister, the Governor of Bank of Ghana and other top leaders of the government in his audience at his church recently and he had advice to offer and some commands to give, I was expecting him to command the President and his team to put in policies that will make the falling cedi to rise and to restore investor confidence in the economy. I was expecting him to command the President to fight corruption in his government to restore people’s confidence in the governing process, I was expecting him to command the President to use judiciously the monies being borrowed to invest in the country’s infrastructure and its people so that the country will be better positioned to compete as a preferred destination for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) thus creating jobs for the teeming army of unemployed youth in the country. I and many rational thinking Ghanaians would have loved to see the Archbishop issue commands in the name of Jesus to the President and his team to address all these issues and many others crying for attention.
Instead he decided to do the unthinkable by according to the news report spiritually commanding the Ghana cedi to stop falling and start to rise in the name of Jesus. What? Command the cedi to stop falling? Has he gone nuts? Was it meant to be a prank or something? Have Ghanaian pastors lost it? Is this pastor serious? Read the relevant part of the news article below.
Archbishop Nicholas Duncan-Williams has spiritually “commanded” the falling cedi to “rise”.
Leading his followers, in Church today (Sunday), to pray for the recovery of the fast depreciating local currency, the Presiding Bishop and General Overseer of the Christian Action Faith Ministries (CAFM) headquartered in the national capital, Accra, said: “…I hold up the cedi with prayer and I command the cedi to recover and I declare the cedi will not fall; it will not fall any further. I command the cedi to climb. I command the resurrection of the cedi. I command and release a miracle for the economy”. Archbishop Duncan-Williams also led his church to pray for President John Mahama, Finance Minister Seth Tekper and Central Bank Governor Dr Henry Kofi Wampah, for divine help and guidance to salvage the cedi.
“In the name of Jesus, say Satan take your hands off the President; take your hands off the Central Bank and the Finance Minister. Say we release innovation for the President, my God, the Governor of the Bank of Ghana, Central Bank, in the name of Jesus Christ the son of God, the Finance Minister. Say we command new ideas, breakthroughs and a miracle for the economy. Let the cedi rise in Jesus name”, he led in prayer.
You see how the Reverend Minister let down his flock and all Ghanaians? He missed a window of opportunity to address the real issues and to be on the side of the many suffering Ghanaians by speaking the truth to power. He missed the chance or failed to seize the opportunity to make a difference. Jesus always spoke the truth to power. Jesus was always on the side of his flock but today’s ministers are self centered just like today’s politicians.
They are in bed together so they fail to speak the truth to power. Archbishop Duncan-Williams should have spoken to the people whose job it is to stabilize the cedi and prevent it from falling not to the cedi itself. The Ghana cedi has no ear to hear him, and it cannot fall or rise on its own. It is the policies of the government that can cause it to fall or rise. The Archbishop probably needs someone to remind him that, this is not a matter of spirituality, it is common sense, it is pragmatic policies that can arrest the fall of the cedi. No amount of prayers and fasting can cause the cedi to rise or fall.
Today, Government’s short-term borrowing costs are going up again as a disturbing combination of surging inflation, a tumbling currency and the prospect of the budget deficit exceeding the target drive down investor confidence. The cost of 91-day borrowing rose for a sixth straight week to 19.62 percent on January 24, when the last auction of the bills was held. The yield on the debt rose nearly one percentage point in the six-week period, reaching its highest since November 1. The yield on 182-day bills also increased for four straight weeks since December 27 to 19.44 percent on January 24.
The country’s public debt hit 46.1 billion Ghana cedis as at the end of September last year. It might have since increased again. It is important to note that in the last five years alone, close to $40 billion has been added to the public debt. the critical question is, do we have that amount of development in the country to show for that massive borrowing? What future are we building for our children and their children? Leaving them with massive debts and nothing to show for it?
The public debt constitutes about 54 percent of the total value of the economy and experts believe the trend is unsustainable. They argue the debt level is inching closer the critical 60 percent mark, the IMF and World Bank benchmark for classifying a country’s debt stock as dangerously high and unsustainable.
The writer is a senior socio-political and economic analyst based in Tokyo, Japan. He welcomes your comments. He can be reached at; firstname.lastname@example.org