Challenges that triggered IMF bailout persist – Danish Ambassador warns gov’t

Danish Ambassador to Ghana, Tove Degnbol, wants the new Nana Akufo-Addo-led administration to focus on clearing waste in the public sector. 

High public sector wage has become an albatross on the country’s coffers and is one of the key reasons the country sought assistance from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Delivering a speech at IMANI Ghana’s 6th Public Sector Awards, the Danish Ambassador said fiscal challenges facing Ghana’s economy make a lean government critical.

“Any government should constantly consider whether better service to the public can be delivered for the same resources, and the current fiscal constraints facing the Ghanaian economy are a further incentive for the Government to address waste, be more efficient, support productivity improvements – in short – to aim at a leaner government,” she said.

The immediate past John Mahama-led administration signed a deal with the Bretton Woods institution in 2015 aimed at improving processes such as fiscal consolidation, revenue administration and public financial management.

Although the IMF’s assessment of the economy under the 3-year programme has scored Ghana good marks, the Fund has warned against complacency.

Tove Degnbol’s address at IMANI Ghana’s programme cautioned that the challenges, among them a ballooning public sector wage bill and increasing debt-to-GDP ratio persist.

“Ghana has a growing and a very young population, the demand for more and better services is increasing, and with the attainment of Middle-Income status, the population has higher expectations. There is a widespread demand for changing the way the public sector does business and interacts with its clients.

The new government, she said, should strive to achieve “improvements in the form of streamlining complex procedures, revisiting processes and seeing how redundant procedures can be scrapped and necessary ones improved for more efficiency.”

Although Tove Degnbol’s speech was delivered last month, recent events make it relevant.

There are fears the current administration will set a new record for the number of ministerial portfolios under one government since 1992.

Nana Akufo-Addo has named some 36 ministerial appointees for his government, however, with the introduction of six new ministerial portfolios, many doubt that he is pursuing a lean government agenda.

The novel ministerial portfolios – National Security, Inner City and Zongo Development, Monitoring and Evaluation, Water and Sanitation, Railways Development and Regional Re-orientation and Development – have been criticised as redundant.

For instance, it has been argued that the Railways Development Ministry, which would be headed by Joe Ghartey, could have been subsumed under the Transport Ministry.

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