Published on 15 Apr, 2021.
Parliament, as predicted, has been key to watch given its present “hang parliament” status. Though every Ministerial appointment made by the President was approved by parliament, it wasn’t without its fair share of drama; the integrity and efficiency of the minority parliamentary leadership has been questioned and even asked to be replaced by certain groups within the NDC, the resignation of MP Okudzeto Ablakwa from the Appointments Committee among others. The Speaker being a member of the government’s opposition, held the government hostage over their intention to reduce the legislative and judicial budgetary allocation. We continue to stand by our prediction that the nature of this parliament would hamper the “usual” effortlessness government has in pushing their way in parliament. Bear in mind that aside both NPP and NDC having the same number of seats in parliament as well as the Speaker coming from the NDC, individuals like Asiedu Nketia (NDC General Secretary), Kofi Ator (NDC Vice Chair) among others into key administrative parliamentary positions.
As predicted, the Agyapa deal is likely to come back to parliament as indicated by the President of the Republic in his State of the Nation Address in Parliament on Tuesday, March 9, 2021. We are however yet to see further discussions of the deal in parliament. The “culture of silence” was well highlighted in our annual outlook and in the first quarter, was a topical issue in the country with notable individuals like Sam Jonah acknowledging its presence. Journalists like Captain smart have been “sacked” by being critical of government with other CSOs and journalists receiving threats for voicing their opinions about the government. With the rising unpopularity of the government, following increased taxes, standard of living and the recent #fixthecountry and online demonstrations, we expect similar tactics by government to control the media space.
Again, we expected certain likely flagbearer candidates for both major parties to start showing up in an attempt to familiarize with the grassroots and solidify their popularity. The activities of these candidates have caused their parties, both NPP and NDC to take measures and stop/regulate them.
As forecasted, sporadic communal and ethnic clashes continue to occur in northern Ghana. Early this year, in the Upper East Region, the dispute between members of Doba and Kandiga escalated into violence though calm has prevailed now, a curfew remains imposed in the area. There have also been religious tensions among orthodox Muslims, land and chieftaincy disputes as predicted. Though we expect such incidences as the year progresses, we still stand by our prediction that this is very unlikely to translate into civil war. Incidences of piracy and other maritime security related threats continue within the Gulf of Guinea with terrorist threats levels still remaining medium. Our prediction for who the president chooses as Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) came to pass with former Chief of Naval Staff, Rear Admiral Seth Amoama getting the pick. Though the election petition was fairly peaceful, we believe political protests remain imminent though the observation of COVID protocols is currently used to prevent them.
On the economy, the country’s ballooning debt is a cause for worry. The debt to GDP ratio as of 2020 stood at 76.1%. We anticipate the country’s debt to GDP to cross 80% by end of 2021, considering a 9.5% financing gap. The power situation will continue to face some challenges. We indicated that the rise in debt owed to GRIDCo from power companies could translate negatively into maintenance challenges as experienced with “Dumsor” and its negative impact on the economy some few years ago. 5 months into 2021, we are back to “Dumsor” and the government has cited infrastructure maintenance as the cause. This is expected to continue into the third quarter. In all, the overall growth projection of the economy is expected to be above 4% due to a gradual easing of restrictions as a result of a better management of the covid crisis. The introduction of vaccines and the government’s ambitious “Obatanpa Cares Programme” is expected to positively impact individuals and businesses.
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