Finance Minister Kenneth Ofori-Atta faced an investigation from lawmakers during Ghana’s worst economic crisis in a generation.
Ghana’s finance minister said on Friday he was “sincerely sorry” for the country’s economic hardship, but defended himself against allegations that he was unfit for the job.
Minister Kenneth Ofori-Atta faced an investigation from lawmakers into his financial management as the government came under increasing pressure and President Nana Akufo-Addo faced increasing criticism over what was Ghana’s worst economic crisis in a year. generation has become.
In the midst of the investigation and crisis, the government also negotiated a loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) of up to $3 billion to maintain public finances.
A top producer of cocoa and gold, Ghana also has oil and gas reserves, but debt payments are high and like the rest of the continent it has been hit hard by the effects of the global pandemic and the war in Ukraine.
Ghanaian cedi has plummeted more than 40 percent this year, putting pressure on importers of both raw and processed materials. Consumer inflation hit a 21-year high of 40.4 percent in October on rising import costs.
Against this backdrop, Ofori-Atta has faced disapproval from legislators from both major political parties calling for his resignation. Last week, parliament set up a committee to investigate allegations by the opposition that he has profited from Ghana’s economic woes, including through illegal payments and unethical contracts.
In his first public comments on the matter, the embattled minister said he was concerned about the misery in the West African country, but added that the allegations were baseless.
“I recognize that our economy is in trouble and the people of Ghana are struggling,” he said.
“As the person who put President Akufo-Addo in charge of this economy, I feel the pain personally, professionally and in my soul.”
He said that by the end of the hearing the “unfounded doubts about my motives, my ability and my character would have been dispelled”.
He also denied claims that he misreported economic data to parliament and that his policies were responsible for the cedi’s sharp decline. “The idea that the cedi’s depreciation is due to tax risk and recklessness is not supported by the available facts,” Ofori-Atta said.
The parliamentary committee will investigate the allegations against the minister before deciding to introduce a motion of censure in parliament, which is evenly split between the ruling NPP and the opposition NDC party. The president has the final say on the dismissal of the minister.
Earlier this week, Akufo-Addo laid off the government’s deputy finance minister, Charles Adu Boahen, on allegations of corruption after appearing in a statement. Earlier this month, protesters also called for the president’s resignation amid rising food and fuel costs.