Deputy Majority Leader Alexander Afenyo-Markin has fought against the motion of censure filed by the minority caucus in an attempt to remove Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta from office.
All the 137 members of thr caucus are signatories to the motion.
Speaking on the floor of Parliament on Thursday, 27 October 2022, however, Mr Afenyo-Markin argued: “If you go through our order paper in this House, clearly committees bring reports, we submit applications and motions are advertised on their own. So, a motion for a censure against the Finance Minister…Mr Speaker, we should not forget that we are in a political space. The Minister has been condemned long before he is heard. The respondent in this application has been condemned with allegations, not facts. We all want a fair hearing.”
Meanwhile, the majority caucus of parliament has made a U-turn, saying it fully supports Mr Ofori-Atta to continue his job until President Nana Akufo-Addo decides to take action on the caucus’ earlier demand for the minister’s removal from office.
Deputy Majority Whip Habib Iddrisu told journalists on Thursday, 27 October 2022: “At the end of the day, we all came to a conclusion that we have agreed to the request of the president” for the caucus to allow Mr Ofori-Atta to finish his negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and also present the 2023 budget in November this year and finally move the motion for the approval of the appropriation bill
“So, the entire majority caucus agreed to the request of the president to allow the finance minister to continue with the negotiation with the IMF and also the request of the president to make the finance minister present the 2023 budget”, he said.
Mr Iddrisu added: “So, because of that the leadership, led by the majority leader, Hon Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, led a delegation yesterday – I was part of it – and we communicated to the president that his request has been accepted by the majority caucus and that we allow that the finance minister should continue with the negotiations with the IMF, the finance minister should come and present the 2023 economic statement and budget of the president of the Republic of Ghana and also, to move the motion for the appropriation bill”.
“So, at the moment, the entire majority caucus, the 138 of us, are all behind the finance minister to continue with the negotiations with the IMF, to come and read the budget statement to us and also move the motion for the approval of the appropriation bill for the 2023 budget. So, that is the stand now”, he indicated.
“The statement has been made clear that: ‘Yes, we do respect our president, we have heard the request and appeal of the president and the majority caucus is fully behind the finance minister”, he stressed.
The majority caucus gave the president the ultimatum to dismiss not only Mr Ofori-Atta but also the Minister of State at the Ministry of Finance, Mr Charles Adu Boahen, or they will boycott the 2023 budget hearing and other government businesses on the floor of parliament.
The caucus, led by spokesperson Andy Appiah Kubi, MP for Asante Akyem North, issued the ultimatum within the precincts of parliament on Tuesday, 25 October 2022 when the house resumed sitting after a long recess.
He told the parliamentary press corps: “We are members of the majority caucus of the parliament of Ghana and we, here so, present; represent a greater number of the said caucus”.
“My name is Andy Appiah Kubi and I am only here as the spokesperson for the majority group – without more”, he caveated.
Mr Appiah-Kubi continued: “We have had occasions to defend allegations of conflict of interest, lack of confidence [and] trust against the leadership of our finance ministry”, however, “the recent developments within our economy are of great concern to the greater majority of the members of our caucus and our constituents”.
“We have made our grave concerns [known] to the president through the parliamentary leadership and the leadership of the party without any positive response”, he revealed.
“We are, by this medium, communicating our strong desire that the president change the minister of finance and the minister of state at the finance ministry, without further delay, to restore hope to the financial sector and reverse the downward trend in the growth of the economy”, the group demanded.
“The summary of our concerns lead to a plea that the Minister of Finance, Mr Ken OfoRI-Atta and the Minister of State at the Ministry of Finance, Mr Charles Adu-Boahen, be removed from office. We pray that this prayer would be carried to the presidency”.
The caucus then threatened: “Meanwhile, we want to serve notice, and notice is hereby served that until such persons, as aforementioned, are made to resign or removed from office, we, members of the majority caucus here in parliament, will not participate in any business of the government by or for the president by any other minister”.
“We hope that those of us at the backbench and members of the majority caucus will abide by this prayer”, the group added.
“We are saying that if our request is not responded to positively, we will not be present for the budget hearing nor will we participate in the debate”, Mr Appiah-Kubi stressed.
Also, the Alliance for Accountable Governance (AFAG) had demanded that President Akufo-Addo reassign Mr Ofori-Atta and Mr Adu Boahen if he cannot dismiss them.
The pro-government pressure group said in a press statement that the two ministers are to blame for the poor performance of the Ghana cedi in relation to other international trade currencies.
“The Minister of Finance and the Minister of State at the Ministry, Ken Ofori Atta and Charles Adu Boahen, must be reassigned,” the group demanded. AFAG’s demand came a few days after media personality and comic Kwaku Sintim-Misa, alias KSM, asked Mr Ofori-Atta to resign.
He said this in a tweet where he claimed to be giving advice to Mr Ofori-Atta.
The award-winning comic posited that President Nana Akufo-Addo, who is cousins with Ken Ofori-Atta, has no desire to sack him from office for a more competent person to assume it, even though it is the best for Ghana’s ailing economy.
“Advice to Ken Ofori-Atta. Bra [brother] Ken, it is obvious the President cannot and will not fire you,” Mr Sintim-Misa began. “Please do him and Ghana a favour and respectfully resign for a competent financial manager to take charge,” he advised.
According to the TV show host, the resignation of the Finance Minister will be followed by restored confidence in Ghana’s economic recovery.
“I am sure that the financial markets will react positively to the news,” is how he put it.
Also, another entertainment personality, Lydia Forson, recently said: “It makes absolutely no sense that Ken Ofori-Atta is still the finance minister,” and queried: “How?” “He’s lost the confidence of the people!” she argued.
The clamour for Mr Ofori-Atta’s head come on the back of the cedi’s very poor performance against the US dollar.
Bloomberg has named the Ghana cedi as the worst-performing currency in the world.
At the time of KSM and Lydia Forson’s tweets, one needed more than 15 cedis to obtain a dollarin Accra, the capital of Ghana. Recently, the United Kingdom’s Finance Minister Kwasi Kwarteng was sacked and subsequently their Prime Minister, Liz Truss, also resigned.
A section of the Ghanaian public have asked why this is not common in Ghana.
President Nana Akufo-Addo, last week, said Mr Ofori-Atta has been an excellent handler of the Ghanaian economy and, thus, sees no reason to sack him as being clamoured for by his critics.
Speaking to OTEC FM in the Ashanti Region on the first day of his four-day official working tour of that part of Ghana, Mr Akufo-Addo parried criticisms that his cousin is to blame for Ghana’s return to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for help since he mismanaged the economy. The president said he takes full responsibility for Ghana’s return to the IMF since he took the decision as the head of state.
He argued that the same Ofori-Atta was able to manage an IMF-programmed economy that the New Patriotic Party (NPP) inherited in 2017 to become one of the fastest-growing economies in the world with an average annual growth rate of 7%.
The president, thus, wondered, how he could cut ties with Mr Ofori-Atta as finance minister.
The president said he has a lot of difficulty understanding the clamour for Mr Ofori-Atta’s exit, since, he noted, even the IMF confirmed that the causes of the current economic situation in Ghana are global in nature rather than a result of internal mismanagement: “It is very easy for people to say we went back to the IMF due to mismanagement of the economy. I do not accept that criticism because the reasons why we got into the situation we find ourselves has very little to do with us. In fact, the IMF confirmed this.”