The World Bank Country Director, Mr Mats Karlsson, has stated that Ghana has no reason to complain about difficulties in managing its economy because it has all the resources for accelerated development at its disposal.
“I think we are at a stage where there are no excuses for Ghana. You’ve got your debt relief, you’ve got HIPC and you’ve got a double of development partner inflows over the past three years,” he made this statement in an interview in Accra yesterday .
He said the macroeconomic and political stability enjoyed in the country were now achievements that had been taken for granted and that the focus should now shift to the real value of resources deployed into the system for various projects under different sectors.
Mr Karlsson said money had to be managed well and accountably and the country and the people should now move away from how much money came in and be more concerned with how efficiently the funds were being used.
“It is part of the corruption issue and I don’t want to mince words on this: it is still a real issue,” Mr Karlsson stated.
He said the development partner inflows steeply increased from more than $600 million in 2002 and were projected to hit $1.2 billion by the end of next year. Mr Karlsson said the bank could not say it was satisfied with results and impacts of the various interventions because of the country’s potential and also because as a human institution it had an insatiable expectation. However, he observed that the issue was actually an efficiency issue, raising questions such as whether the projects for which the monies were being released were actually being seen on the ground.
“If every school is supposed to have a set of textbooks, go to the schools and check whether they have the textbooks. What could be the answer?” he asked.
He said the same questions could go for the other sectors such as roads, health and agriculture, adding that even when the investments had been well implemented, “are they being maintained and managed?”
He said the past 10 to 20 years had serious intense partnership between the government and development partners, but “are we doing what we said we will do?” he questioned.
Mr Karlsson noted that the government, individuals and institutions were all to take responsibility for achieving targets.
He said results matrix under the Ghana Partnership Strategy showed progress towards achieving the targets, but said everyone expected accelerated movement.
He said development partners could not go beyond making financial resources available since the responsibility of strategising, implementing and monitoring were functions of the country receiving the funds, else the bank and other development partners would be seen as stepping beyond bounds.
“We have to look at things from the user and customer point of view not the donor,” he stated.The World Bank Country Director, who also has responsibility for Liberia and Sierra Leone, said the country needed a well-functioning statistical service and other institutions with the function of monitoring and evaluating so as to track the real use of financial resources.
Mr Karlsson said what the country needed to do effectively for accelerated growth was harnessing its natural resources, particularly agriculture, services and mining.
In agriculture, he said, the country could still pursue an aggressive export drive based on unprocessed commodities in the non-traditional export sector and still make it, saying that “it is the quality, reliability and volume that is going to make you rich.”
He identified vegetables, pineapples and others as products that could be exported in huge quantities from Ghana and that could give a lot of foreign exchange inflow to the country.
He said processing the commodities also posed a marketing challenge, which was more difficult to do in the developed countries.
On services, Mr Karlsson said Ghana could develop its economy to become a financial hub for West Africa through proper regulatory framework, anti-money laundering laws, clear and well-functioning regulated markets and a strong banking sector.
He said the current macroeconomic and political stability were the right ingredients for doing that. Mr Karlsson was also enthused about Ghana’s human resource base, which he termed “human gold”.
He praised the professionalism of Ghanaians and their excellent hospitality and human-relations interface, which he said was unequalled in the world.
Those qualities, he said, were the reasons for the exodus of human capital elsewhere and said the combination of the “human gold and agriculture” could give Ghana that accelerated growth necessary for poverty reduction.
He said Ghana’s health sector was also not giving the expected results matched against the investments, adding that it was one that could serve the entire African region, after South Africa, to take care of post-operation care, stress and rehabilitation centres that were now multi-billion dollar industries in the advanced world.
Mr Karlsson also lamented the under utilisation of tourism potential in the country, which, he said countries in the Caribbean and Southern Europe had depended on to grow.
The problems that we identify today such as land tenure and the need to improve agriculture had for long been identified but the problem had been with implementation”he said.
The World Bank Country Director said what the country needed to do was to support infrastructure, energy, transport, water, telecommunications and human resource development. He said the gains attained under the Ghana Poverty Reduction Strategy 1 could be consolidated if targeted actions were actually implemented and monitored.
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