Ghana’s Growth Rate Slips (but Not the President’s Wealth?)

Recently, the statistics office released the official 2015 gross domestic product (GDP) figures – and sadly, the growth rate declined over the previous year. Sure, it only slipped from 4 percent to 3.9 percent, but it’s not what anyone wants to hear. According to the governmental department, this decline can be attributed to a reduction in key exports such as gold, cocoa, and oil.

Now, the loss of sales in these items is not something that Ghana or its people could count for on its own; trade and exports, after all, are a two-way street. But, there are other elements that Ghana might be able to put into play to help ease economic burdens – perhaps the control of interest rates?

The Bank of Ghana offers the third highest interest rate in the world and the second highest in Africa. Falling only after Argentina (35.43 percent) and Malawi (27 percent), Ghanaians can expect repayment interest rates of 26 percent. These high rates make it difficult on the people to grow their own economy or work on GDP problems.

But, there may be bigger problems afoot. If you’ve heard of the Panama Papers, you know exactly what we mean. These “papers” are the biggest leak of financial secrets ever seen. In short, these secrets relate to the people holding tax-free off-shore accounts in Panama. It’s a name, shame, and blame game for the rich that avoid paying taxes.

Is President John Mahama an investor? Well, we don’t know yet. John Addo Kufuor, son of the former president, has however been named. And, there are rumours surrounding Mahama’s money. But, at this moment, we don’t know.

What we do know is that it’s tough to live with high interest and falling GDP rates when tax money that’s desperately needed in Ghana and on the African continent isn’t paid. One look around is really all you need to see how desperately the government needs funds to develop this country.

There are four operating theatres at Koforidua Regional Hospital, but only two surgeons. And, since there is only one anaesthetist, only one surgeon can work at any one time. While dumsor’s effect on the hours when operations has mercifully subsided, so much more work needs to be done to ensure all the operating theatres are staffed and helping the public as much as possible.

And that’s not to mention the education of Ghanaians, the protection of civilians from terrorist threats, and all the other public works that need to be done to make this country, once again, Africa’s shining light. Then again, since we don’t have any proof about the amount of Ghanaian profits held off-shore tax-free, we really need to concentrate on increasing the GDP, reducing the interest rates, and training more doctors instead.

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