The financial impropriety that has rocked the government could have far-reaching consequences for the National Democratic Congress (NDC) in the December elections, the Economic Intelligence Unit (EIU) has indicated.
In its February 2012 political outlook on Ghana, the EIU noted that while President John Evans Atta Mills had struggled to maintain party unity, the emergence of evidence of financial impropriety was tarnishing some government ministers.
It noted that the judgement debt payment scandal had not only implicated some members of Cabinet but also “damaged the reputation of the President”.
According to the EIU, given that the event had happened less than 12 months before legislative and presidential elections likely to be won by the slimmest of margins, the scandal could have far-reaching consequences.
“This is hurting the NDC’s reputation, given that it came to power promising accountability and transparency. All of this will play into the hands of the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) in the run-up to the 2012 presidential and legislative elections,” it said.
While indicating that President Mills was a slight favourite in the December presidential election, the report said the NDC looked set to suffer from its internal rivalries and corruption allegations but it should benefit from “the favourable economic picture of high growth and relatively low inflation”.
It said after the presidential election, the winner would face a challenging policy environment as he attempted to manage the revenue and high expectations stemming from the start of oil production at the Jubilee oilfield.
On the emerging oil and gas industry, the report said oil revenue could represent a boon for Ghana but it needed to be managed properly, adding that whoever took power after the next elections would be faced with weighing up the merits of competing demands on revenue, while also combating corruption.
“It is an opportunity for Ghana to make great strides in reducing poverty and speeding up the development agenda. However, political bickering and intra-party tensions have hindered this development in the past and could do so again,” it added
On international relations, it said the government would maintain good relations with Ghana’s major trading partners and donors throughout the forecast period, especially the United States of America and the United Kingdom, both of which had a large Ghanaian diaspora.
It, however, said the recent development of links with China, backed by Chinese funding for infrastructure projects, had led to a shift in emphasis in Ghana’s international relations.
In the West African sub-region, the EIU said Ghana’s traditionally strong relationship with Nigeria would continue, with Nigerian firms having a growing presence in Ghana, although frictions over the large and increasing number of Nigerians working in the country might intensify.
According to the EIU, the maritime border dispute with Cote d’Ivoire could be a source of tension between the two countries, although it said the most likely solution was for a joint exploration zone to be agreed on.
Source: Albert K. Salia/Daily Graphic
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