A Senior Research Fellow and Head of Economics Division of the Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER), Dr Charles Ackah, has cautioned policymakers to avert their minds to the social implications of Ghana’s under-performing economy.
He says the consequences, particularly of poverty, rising inequality and joblessness are dire for an economy whose growth is tottering from the year 2011 high of 14 percent to the 2016 growth of 3.6 percent.
He said the 3.6 percent rate is the lowest for over two decades but is also a continuation of the downward trend since 2011.
Dr. Charles Ackah was speaking at the launch in Accra Wednesday, of the State of the Ghanaian Economy 2016 Report, produced by the Institute.
He said the Report is the product of a very detailed academic and expert view of all the sectors of the Ghanaian economy.
“We consider the economy of Ghana very difficult to understand. It is an economy blessed with all the natural resources, very good weather and good people yet we see inequality indices and poverty still high.”
According to Dr. Ackah, the report indicates that about a quarter of the population are poor as they are unable to afford GHS3.6 per day, an amount he said that cannot foot the trotro fare from Accra to Kasoa or buy anyone waakye and fish in Accra.
“If you even look at extreme poverty, the extreme poverty line is just under GHS800 per year per person. That is just GHS2.20 to be able to give you 2,900 calories of food per day, we still have 2.2 million Ghanaians unable to afford GHS2.20 to buy Hausa Koko and koose or Kofi brokeman or a bunch of banana”, he said.
Sharing insights of the Report, the Director of ISSER, Prof. Felix Ankomah Asante said Ghana’s economic performance mimicked the global and sub-Saharan Africa economic output, with a marked nosediving since 2014.
He said oil prices rose about 80% in 2016, from US$30 per barrel in January 2016 to US$54 by January 2017, impacted by demand weaknesses and low prices. Also, weak economic recovery increased unemployment with unemployment rates among the youth (15-24 year group) pegged at twice as high as that of any cohort of the labour force.
Prof. Felix Ankomah however, expressed the hope that this year would see a turnaround, with the services sector leading the push.
The projected growth, he said, is expected to be driven by strong performance in information and communication, trade and repair of vehicles sub-sectors, adding that with the creation of the Aviation and Railway Development ministries, the government expects to facilitate transportation and ensure greater productivity in these sectors.
He said to ensure that medium-term growth targets are met there is the need for massive investment in productive infrastructure and for prioritizing non-traditional exports, while on the fiscal side there is an urgent need for prudent management of government resources.
Dr Yaw Baah, General Secretary of the Trades Union Congress who launched the Report, said the usefulness of the report over the years to academics, students and policymakers is not grounded only in the availability of the statistics, it so also for the quality of the publication, its objectivity in a country where everything is reduced to NDC and NPP, and also for its consistency since 1992.
“You cannot write any recent economic history about Ghana without referring to ISSER’s flagship publication”, he said.