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Ofori Atta showing prudence

Ken Ofori Atta, on his appointment as finance minister, was faced with questions that are always posed by doubters. Many analysts or panelists actually exaggerated the difficulties he will face as a finance minister because they expressed been a successful banker won't guarantee smooth progress in his new position

Optimist also were of the view that his incredible success at Data Bank will help him win over the economy. Ofori Atta's acumen turned Data Bank's initial start - up in one room at Kantamanto into a huge brand with over $200 million investment under its management

But the tumbled economy really is the defining issue now. Ofori Atta is a disciple of those who abhor leakages. He revealed at his vetting before parliament that, leakages in Ghana's financial sector alone amounts to five percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP)

The latest news of clearing 50,000 ghost names from the public payroll and pension payout data base is the showdown of his combative ideas. "The giant step is a move by the NPP government to stop all leakages of money and also reduce Ghana's wage bill," Ofori Atta said,

A report in 2015 by the Ghana National Anti - Corruption Action Plan depicted that an estimated GH300 million is lost annually by government through 'ghost names.' This scenario places Ofori Atta in the unique position of a finance minister on rampage to eliminate the mounting corruption that is undoubtedly plaguing the country's fragile economy

Ofori Atta is by miles proving to be a financial minister endowed in helping President Nana Addo protect the public purse: theoretically and in policy terms, he seems to be on top so far. He has entered into the finance ministry with great gusto to push to repair the economic downturn

He wants to revitalize the economy but that lofty ambition, whatever it means, will be difficult to realize if the watchful eye stops at a point. It is because in 2011, the ministry of finance and economic planning expunged 34,000 ghost names from pensioners pay roll in seven regions.

We were told in 2011 that, a new technology with some high - tech professionals and entrepreneurs are in line to combat illegal names in the public sector so, the recent news of 50,000 names been cleared again is baffling?

The public sector pay roll has consistently flirted with fraudulent employee records. The public sector is mostly mismanaged by successive governments with those at the helms of affairs making a fool out of citizens by introducing fake names to cause severe financial leakages

The explosive boom of technology in Ghana has failed to easily detect 'ghost names.' Interventions of curbing such leakage would certainly increase public trust in the public sector.

Illegal names on the payroll prevents good economic management. Hopefully, the clearance this time will lessen the numbers to save government some money because if the economy start to be challenged by external shocks there might be trouble.

The economy has been so much dependent on oil that when the global prices plunged the old government had to survive the economy on the oxygen of borrowings with impunity

The unpalatable truth is that the slowdown was because we ignored diversification over a long time. Ofori Atta securing $125 million from the Canadian government to support agricultural campaign of 'planting for food and jobs' is good for diversifying. We have failed to see that agriculture can also be the main engine for growth.

It is possible that any external shock can exacerbate the economy and create financial difficulties for Ofori Atta. But building a solid foundation would show signs of economy recovering from a prolong low growth

Certainly, Ken Ofori Atta is by in many ways not a lucky minister by inheriting such debt entangled economy. However, he has persistently been over - optimistic in his budgetary forecast. Hopefully, his more winning personality and 'Big Hairy Audacious Goals' as he termed it at Data Bank will show more prudence



Source: B&FT