The Majority Caucus in Parliament, has agreed to stand down their demand for the immediate resignation of the Minister for Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta and Charles Adu Boahen, the Minister of State at the Finance Ministry, pending the completion of ongoing negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and presentation of the 2023 budget to Parliament.
The decision of the Majority Caucus is contained in a press release dated 26 October 2022, and signed by the Majority Leader and Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu.
“Following the Press Conference held on Tuesday, 25th October, 2022 by some Members of the Majority Caucus in Parliament demanding the removal of the Minister of Finance, Mr. Ken Ofori Atta, and the Minister of State at the Ministry of Finance, Mr. Charles Adu Boahen from office, the President engaged Members of the Caucus and requested that the issue be stood down until the conclusion of the round of negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the presentation of the Budget Statement and Economic Policy in November, 2022 and the subsequent passage of the Appropriation Bill after which time the demand shall be acted upon” the statement by the Majority Caucus read.
“After deliberations among the Majority Caucus today Wednesday, 26th October, 2022, it was agreed to accede to the President’s appeal” the statement further read.
President Akufo-Addo, at an emergency meeting with leaders and members of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Majority Caucus in Parliament on Tuesday (25 October 2022), expressed regret about the approach taken by about 80 of them in calling for the removal of Ken Ofori-Atta and Charles Adu Boahen as the Minister for Finance and minister of state in charge of finance, respectively.
At the meeting that was cordial but tense, both sides ended their discussions with a deeper understanding of each other’s standpoint, sources say, and with the common belief that the interests of the government, party and nation are paramount and need not be in conflict.
President Akufo-Addo, in a passionate, eloquent but sober manner, told the NPP MPs that he would have expected those among them calling for the removal of the two men to have come to him directly on the matter first.
There, he said, he could have also put his viewpoint and if they were not satisfied with his response then it would have been perfectly understandable for them to advise themselves accordingly.
He told them that Ghana is going through economic difficulties and the Office of the President is open to ideas from an important branch of the ruling party such as MPs on the best way forward. However, he said, the approach may matter as much as the message itself.
The President’s argument
President Akufo-Addo also made it clear to his MPs and the party delegation, led by National Chairman Stephen Ntim, during the meeting that his office has no record of any petition or request for a meeting on the subject matter by the MPs themselves, whether through the party leadership or the leadership of the Majority side in Parliament.
He indicated that he had been aware of murmurings, but the approach adopted took him by surprise and was not the best. An Asaase News source who attended the meeting, held also on Tuesday (25 October 2022) at Jubilee House, says the president described the resignation call as ill-timed.
There have been growing calls for the removal of the Finance Minister, in response to high levels of anxiety stemming from persistent economic challenges, exacerbated by the rapid depreciation of the cedi.
The timing of the dismissal call, President Akufo-Addo stressed, was suboptimal for the following reasons:
His government has 20 days more to present the 2023 Budget, which is intrinsically linked to the negotiations with the IMF. There is a need to reflect the priorities of the IMF negotiations appropriately in this critical Budget. The president called on his MPs to not lose sight of the importance of maintaining focus.
Ofori-Atta and Adu Boahen have been leading bilateral/multilateral negotiations to secure additional funding to support the Budget and Ghana’s development programme, in line with the NPP’s manifesto commitments.
The president was also clear that the ruling party could not afford any delay, either in concluding the recalibration of the country’s debt sustainability agenda or in securing the IMF package itself.
He was in no doubt about the duo’s determination to conclude the negotiations with the Fund, secure additional financing and finalise the 2023 Budget and appropriation to bring relief to Ghanaians. “You do not change a captain who is steering the ship out of a storm,” he stressed.
There is also concern about the likely negative reaction of the markets to new leaders who may not be privy to earlier discussions.
In spite of all the challenges, President Akufo-Addo asked for the two men, with their wealth of contacts and experience built up over the years and in their current jobs, to be allowed to conclude the Budget and IMF negotiations.
If, at the end of this, the vast number of MPs are still not happy, he said, he has no problem with listening to their concerns and taking appropriate steps to address these.
Majority press conference
At a press conference held in the foyer of Parliament on Tuesday (25 October), Andy Appiah-Kubi, the MP for Asante-Akim North and spokesman for the group, demanded the resignation of Ken Ofori-Atta and Charles Adu Boahen over their management of the economy.
According to the group of MPs, they will not assist in any government business that involves the Ministry of Finance, or have any dealings with the Finance Minister or the minister of state for finance, until both men leave the government.
“We have had occasion to defend allegations of conflict of interest, lack of confidence and trust against leadership of our Finance Ministry. The recent developments within our economy are of great concern to the greater majority of members of our caucus and our constituents,” Appiah-Kubi announced.
“The summary of our concern leads to the plea that the Minister for Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, and the minister of state at the Ministry of Finance, Charles Adu Boahen, should be removed from office.
“Meanwhile, we want to serve notice that until such persons as aforementioned are made to resign or removed from office, we members of the Majority Caucus here in Parliament will not participate in any business of government by or for the president or by any other minister,” Appiah-Kubi told reporters, in a direct statement to the press.
“If our request is not responded to positively, we’ll not be present for the Budget hearing, neither would we participate in the debate,” Appiah-Kubi said.