The Government has been urged to take a critical look at the new phenomenon of private investors financing elections, also known as monetisation.
The Executive Director of the Institute for Democratic Governance (IDEG), Dr Emmanuel Akwetey, said the country had to deal with this new phenomenon aside the huge budget deficits that are recorded in election years, and which created fiscal instability that often led the country to seek a bail out from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
“We are now dealing with private investors in elections. Nobody has control over that. There is no transparency about that and it is huge.
They control the parties, they are seeking to control the government and they are seeking through Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs) elections to even control local government,” he stated during the Graphic Business / Stanbic Bank breakfast meeting in Accra on October 7, 2019.
He said the country had focused on elections, which was becoming increasingly expensive, so much so that, it seemed that without elections the system could not function.
The breakfast meeting was on the theme, “Election Cycles, Democratic Governance and Fiscal Stability: Lessons for Ghana.”
Dr Akwetey deduced that budget overruns can be deliberate.
“I do not think that the invisible force here are the private financiers of our elections and our parties. What do they demand in turn? How are they paid back?, he quizzed.
He proposed a review of the legal framework within which political parties are operating in the country because there was no effective financial monitoring of those who financed elections.
“The framework doesn’t. Simply because when they were first introduced the idea was not so much to ensure that people with money come in to capture our politics and development.
“Rather, it was more to discourage opposition parties from being financed by foreigners. We need to look at all these laws because there is no country where financing of parties is as free as we have here,” he emphasised.
Local economic dev.
Dr Akwetey noted that the local government machinery existed for the implementation of government policies and programmes but had not been able to do so.
He said local economic development had not been successful in Ghana over the last 27 years; the machinery to use whatever little resources efficiently was not there and because politics also came in the way.
“So when we talk about increasing domestic revenue mobilisation, more taxes, what is that economy at the local level that we have grown and therefore expect to maximise taxation and so on?’’, he quizzed.
He said development was local and so if the country could not develop local economies, then it was not going to develop central economies.
Also, he said the resources to the district assemblies did not get there on time, the little that came was used unpredictably and the districts had to pay for central government cost (e.g. when the president goes on a tour).
“We need to devolve more power and the Constitution is every explicit on this. Fiscal decentralisation must be matched with administrative decentralisation. The institutions are not developed. We have not invested in development there,” he said.
The GRAPHIC BUSINESS/Stanbic Bank breakfast meeting brought together economists, captains of industry, experts and policymakers to discuss how the nation could learn from lessons from the past to ensure fiscal stability in 2020, which is an election year.
The Senior Advisor to the Minister of Planning, Dr Kojo Mensa Abrampah, also speaking at the forum said although revenue collection was important, revenue development was a key thing that must be initiated.
“We have talked about the local authorities collecting their own taxes for development but it should not just be about the collection. We must create the environment for people to create their businesses,” he said.