If you are Ghanaian, you have cause to rejoice today. Ghanaians have received the best Independence Day gift ever as they celebrate the country’s emancipation from British colonial rule 58 years ago. This commemoration is taking place only a week after government signed an agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to submit itself to the yoke of fiscal discipline in exchange for less than $1 billion from the Fund.
Speaking in parliament yesterday, the Finance Minister, Seth Tekper, said this was ‘the best gift imaginable’ from government on this historic day. Waxing biblical, he said that government’s recourse to the IMF was akin to Esau’s act of selling his birth-right to Jacob for pottage, but he insisted that, unlike Esau’s, this was for a good cause.
Government is supposed to submit to austerity conditions as part of the conditions for receiving the almost $1 billion from the IMF, a fact which has been condemned by some as an indication of the illusion of independence.
But the Finance Minister said that this was a deliberate attempt by the government to give Ghanaians, especially the youth, a taste of life when the country was not free. ‘This is just to simulate a sense of colonialism for younger Ghanaians,’ he said, adding ‘not to worry; this will last for only three years.’
He said that this Independence Day gift is in fulfilment of the Better Ghana Agenda. When the minority leader, Osei Kyei Mensah-Bonsu, objected that this was a flimsy basis to go for a bail-out from the IMF, the minister responded angrily, ‘This is not a bail-out! It’s a programme!’ pointing out that the $1 billion dollar was a puny sum if indeed the government needed money: ‘Government could easily have raised this money if it wanted to; after all, don’t you remember how much has been budgeted for Hope City?’ he said, reemphasising that the only reason government went to the IMF was because of the need to ‘let Ghanaians know what unfreedom tasted like.’
Editor’s note: The ‘Inside the News by Mpakoo’ column which appears every Monday exclusively on ghanabusinessnews.com is satire.