Ghana Election: John Mahama overtakes Akufo-Addo in early vote counting
London, Dec. 8, 2020 (AltAfrica)-John Dramani Mahama, a former Ghanaian president and flagbearer of the main opposition party in Ghana the National Democratic Congress has dramatically shot into lead as votes counting continue in the just concluded national election in the West African country
Despite the election being largely calm, heavy security is surveying the count in the capital Accra’s Jamestown neighbourhood, where Ghanaians are already celebrating the victory of their candidate.
As at the time of going to press, provisional results showed the incumbent president, Nana Akufo-Addo has garnered 1,711,549 votes representing 47.75 percent of the total counted ballots so far while his challenger former president John Mahama leads with 1,842,082 votes representing 51. 39 percent according live result tally from Ghanaweb
Whoever wins the ongoing Presidential and parliamentary elections there are immediate macro-economic challenges they will have to confront.
On the upside both of the two leading political parties – the incumbent New Patriotic Party and the opposition National Democratic Congress – know exactly what those challenges are and what needs to be done to resolve them.
The downside however is that the state’s purse lacks adequate fiscal space; neither party has the needed fiscal discipline; and all too often political exigencies are considered over economic realities.
Indeed it is instructive that neither party has been able to quite achieve the macro-economic performance they so confidently promise during the election campaign cycles every four years.
To be sure, Ghana’s economic growth and development over the next four years will be determined largely by the policies drawn up in the productive sectors and how well they are implemented.
However for growth and development to be sustained over the long run macroeconomic stability is requisite. This means low inflation – preferably in single digits – which could allow for low interest rates.
Achieving such low inflation in turn requires exchange rate stability and achieving both of them also requires a low fiscal deficit. None of these things can wait, even as the next government is put together (even if the incumbent is re-elected for a second term he can be expected to make several changes among his ministers and chief executives of government agencies).
The most immediate task will be starting to bring down the fiscal deficit to sustainable levels. The outbreak of COVID-19 forced a suspension of the five percent of Gross Domestic Product ceiling on the fiscal deficit imposed by the Fiscal Responsibility Act as government’s revenues fell well below target even as its expenditure rose significantly. This being an election year, government has used this as an excuse to step up its politically motivated spending too, with spending to woo voters being passed off as social interventions to ameliorate the economic effects of the viral outbreak.
The result is a more than doubling of the fiscal deficit from the original target of 4.7percent to a revised one of 11.8 percent and government will be hard put to even keep within it, going by the deficit data as at September.
The incumbent government now plans to bring it back to within 5.0 percent over the three years up to 2023, beginning with an 8.6 percent deficit for 2021.
The opposition has not provided any quantitative targets for macro-economic targets if it takes over government but its tax policy proposals imply unsustainable deficits onto the coming years.