Civil society group to engage public on IMF bail-out

A group of civil society organizations has come together to engage citizens on IMF bail-out negotiations and raise queries with government on areas of concern to the public.

The Civil Society Organisations (CSO) Platform on the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Bail-out to Ghana was launched in Accra on Tuesday.

Mr Joe Winful, Chairman of the CSO Platform, said the ultimate agreement would be binding on the citizens of Ghana and there was therefore need for broad consultation with them during the course of the negotiations.

He said in the past when such programmes have been worked out with the IMF, there were virtually no discussions with civil society organisations and therefore no input from them and other non-state actors, and that lack of transparency must be avoided this time round.

The Platform is made up of several institutions including Penplusbytes, Ghana Anti-corruption Coalition, Centre for Democratic Development, Send, Ghana, Ghana Institute for Public Policy, Occupy Ghana, African Centre for Parliamentary Affairs, Institute for Chartered Accountants, IMANI Ghana, Oxfam Ghana, Financial Accountability and Transparency-Africa, and Ghana Integrity Initiative.

“A transparent process and the ability for Civil Society and non-State Actors to conclude the negotiations will facilitate the process to sell the programme to Ghanaians,” Mr Winful said.

He added that it is of concern to Ghanaians that negotiations are underway without any prior conversation with the people represented by civil society and other non-state actors, including Members of Parliament.

The Chairman said in view of these lapses, the Platform was formed to advocate the views of citizens to be taken into account in the agreement.

He said the CSO Platform on IMF Bail-out’s aim is not to bash the Government or criticise the IMF, but to ensure that citizen’s voices and key stakeholders inputs are harness constructively.

He said the platform expects that through their actions they would be able to increase public interest and discourse on major issues on the IMF bail-out; promote public awareness and inclusiveness in the bail-out discussions and the fiscal programme; give needed guidance and advice to Government’s negotiating team, and obtain a programme that would meet the best interests of Ghanaians.

This, he said, could be achieved through SMS, social media and online platforms.

The Platform will also engage the media, academia and faith-based organisations, among others, to embark on a sustained campaign to educate Ghanaians on the bail-out, and agree on mechanisms to monitor the implementation of the final agreement.

In August, the Government requested a three-year IMF support package to deal with the country’s financial challenges. Negotiations have already commenced with Dr Kwesi Botchway, a former Finance Minister leading the Ghana team.

The IMF programme is expected to begin from January 2015.

Source: GNA