A near exchange of blows in the presence of President Mahama at the Flagstaff House between Finance Minister Seth Terkper and the President’s Economic Advisory Team led to the exclusion of the government’s most competent economic brains from contributing to the mid-year review budget presented to the august House of Parliament last week.
A high-level source yesterday told the Enquirer that the story, leaked by a certain Laryea Mohammed, “is largely true.”
This tragedy comes at a time when the President has been working round the clock to bring all hands on deck to fix the ailing economy.
Insiders say the feud reached a boiling point a few weeks ago when the President, in response to the Occupy Flagstaff House demo, called an emergency economic meeting to address the concerns of the demonstrators.
The President insisted he was not going to allow the petition of the demonstrators to gather dust and that the petition needed to be reviewed based on its merit, and the appropriate action taken to remedy the concerns of the citizens.
At that meetings, the minister of finance was said to have asked cabinet to approve a mid-year review budget he recently put before the house and indicated that the solution to the problems of the demonstrators and the nation are in the budget.
However, in the debate that ensued, Dr. Nii Moi Thompson, the President’s economic advisor, was said to have described the policies in the review as doing more harm than good.
He was said to have opposed the imposition of additional taxes on a weak economy by Mr. Terkper while adding that besides budget and trade deficits, the finance minister was also guilty of a credibility deficit,” which was why donors were withholding funds from Ghana and Ghana was being downgraded.
The finance minister, a former technocrat at the International Monetary Fund (IMF), was said not to have taken lightly to the description, leading to an exchange of words between the two gentlemen and the near trading of blows.
It took the genteel President, reportedly, to cool tempers during which time Dr. Omane Boamah, (Coming Up) Minister of Communications, suggested that in view of Dr. Thompson’s critique, a committee be set up to review Minister “Terkper stein” proposals, a position said to have been supported by both the Vice President and the President.
The angry Mr. Terkper is said to have not taken too kindly to the outcome of that meeting.
In retaliation, he decided to exclude the economic management team from the reconsideration of his policies.
A day before he appeared before the august House of Parliament, he hurriedly convened a meeting at a one-star hotel in Accra, involving some few ministers not blessed with the expertise in economics, the president’s communication advisor, and Dr. Kpessa Whyte, a presidential staffer and political scientist.
The economic management team, headed by no less a person than the respected Vice President, was not involved.
Sources say a hard copy of the mid-term review was reluctantly sent by Mr. Terkper to the Veeps house mid-night, when he was almost retiring to bed, in a strategic move to limit any input from the Vice President, who is a former deputy finance minister and governor of the Bank of Ghana and a respected consultant to the World Bank.
Deep throat sources say, as far as Vice President Amissah-Arthur, who is chairman of the economic management team is concerned, there is a long-running confidence deficit hanging on the neck of finance minister Seth Terkper.
The recent impasse between Mr. Terkper and the President’s economic advisor, Dr. Nii Moi Thompson, is said to be raising tempers in the Mahama administration and giving the President more headache.
The one-man budget submitted by Terkper attracted criticism from both home and abroad as an inadequate response to the economic problems.
Meanwhile, the economic arms of two of Ghana’s strategic development partners have been reviewing the mid-year review budget and the report emanating from the analysis compelled an “okro mouth” staff to almost cause a blunder.
MPs in particular say Mr. Terkper is making their jobs difficult. Other pronouncements of his confidence in the finance minister has compelled reports of two diplomatic missions from coming out as it would be deemed to be an attack on the President.