The former Speaker of Parliament, Professor Aaron Mike Oquaye, has issued a stark warning that Ghana may find itself seeking relief from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) within the next six years if the nation does not address its current import dependency and inefficient utilization of mineral resources.
During the 2nd R. S. Blay Memorial lectures, delivered under the theme “Consolidating Democracy and the Rule of Law in Contemporary Ghana: If Justice R.S. Blay were with us using the Law as An Instrument of Social, political and economic engineering,” Prof. Oquaye stressed the urgent need for a comprehensive and technocratic discussion on Ghana’s approach to harnessing its natural resources.
Drawing attention to the recent Ukraine-Russia war crises and their impact on global economies, Prof. Oquaye emphasized the significance of this geopolitical event as it relates to Ghana’s economic stability.
He expressed concern that unless the country takes immediate steps to reduce its import dependency and effectively utilize its mineral resources, it will continue to be susceptible to the IMF’s intervention.
“We must be re-examining our natural resources. We should be looking at ourselves as less import dependent. If we need Ukraine’s wheat for our bread, then we will suffer but that’s unfortunately the lot of our nation today. Every day, we are all trooping to the Tema or Takoradi Ports in order to get what to wear and eat, therefore import dependency must be tackled from today. Otherwise, we will go to the IMF every six years.
“Now we are at the 17th time to the IMF, what would men like R. S. Blay think about Ghana beyond the 17th time to the IMF? I believe that we would need a new approach to a national orientation. What is happening to our Gold, Diamond, and Bauxite? If we have got Oil, are we maximizing the use of the oil? What are our oil contracts like? Who makes the contracts? Do they really know what they are doing? Who approves of the contracts?”.
He further called for an expert enquiry into the allotment of public lands for the exploitation of Ghana’s resources like gold and petroleum.
“There must be what they call in England, Public Enquiry at the local level. Do we have public enquiries enshrined in our constitution? So that before you will touch the Ghana oil, it doesn’t matter which party is in office, the oil commission which is fully technocratic with experts who know the business, what have they said in advance about it? Unless we provide these checks and balances in our legal and constitutional framework, which I believe men like Justice R.S. Blay would have been good at acting upon and suggesting.
“This is necessary because what we have, we are not able to manage it and if we are not able to maximize our oil and other resources, then what do we intend to depend on for our national development? These are very serious issues that academics, technocrats, lawyers, and others must re-examine if we should be worthy of our call, especially as students of contemporary national development”, he reemphasized.
The former Speaker of Parliament added that the current national development model is tragic and therefore expressed the need for sustained national development with a neutral National Development Planning Commission membership.
“It cannot be overemphasized that a National Development Planning Institution is necessary in this country. The present state of a pendulum in development whereby governments introduce new policies during their tenure only for such policies and attendant projects abandoned immediately after those governments leave office is very tragic. Article 35(7), actually provides that, as far as practicable, a government shall continue and execute projects and programmes commenced by the previous governments.
“Nevertheless, the politicization of the NDPC and the abandonment of various projects started by previous regimes are greatly hurting this nation and we need to revisit this challenge and suggest remedies”, he called.