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Making oil a blessing and not a curse for ghana



MAKING OIL A BLESSING AND NOT A CURSE FOR GHANA  The international experience of resource-rich  good macroeconomic management – particularly  good economic governance – through the are necessary to make oil a blessing rather than  Additionally, Ghana must boost the international price competitiveness of the relevant tradable subsectors in agriculture and manufacturing by bringing down the cost of doing business; through investments in human capital — education, skills, knowledge and health of the workforce; and by reducing the deficiencies in physical infrastructure.  Protection of the non-oil tradable sector by way of subsidies and/or import tariffs perpetuates uncompetitiveness of the sector and must be avoided. A healthy, growing and integrated economy would always have demand for imports – technology and raw materials – for productive use. As such, the efficiency gains from trade would always be much higher than the savings on foreign exchange that can  Excessive spending often characterizes the economic mismanagement that tends to take root in the wake of a natural resource find. This is both because the natural resource generates additional income that adds to government revenue and because government develops an increased appetite for debt that can be secured with the natural resource.  Greater fiscal discipline, therefore, is what is needed if the effects of the Dutch Disease are to be mitigated and oil is to become a blessing for Ghana.  This calls for the efficient collection and  the overall fiscal deficit is reduced;  the primary balance is at least zero – ensuring that government does not borrow to service its debt; and  value for money is derived from public expenditures – by investing in projects that generate a growth rate higher than the interest on government debt.  The need for fiscal discipline is particularly important now that Ghana has attained middle-income status and is being gradually weaned off donor support.  Although not sufficient, the debt-to-GDP ratio is the means by which foreign investors assess the credit worthiness, and hence the likelihood of default, of borrowing countries.  Thus, by reducing the size of the deficit government can reduce the perception of risk that investors have about Ghana; thereby lowering the cost of credit and improving our access to credit.  Fiscal discipline is also important for enhancing the effectiveness of monetary policy in macroeconomic  Fiscal indiscipline, by way of excessive government spending of oil revenues would increase the amount of reserves in the system, thus, requiring the Bank of Ghana (BoG) to mop-up the excess or risk higher  The increased foreign exchange inflows from the export of oil could also pose liquidity challenges for the BoG if it decides to use the foreign exchange to build its gross international reserves (GIR) – the BoG would supply cedis in exchange for the foreign exchange thereby increasing the amount of currency  If left unsterilized, the excess liquidity in the system – resulting from either the increase in government spending or the decision by the BoG to build its international reserves – would raise fears of rising inflation and, hence, necessitate a rise in the MPR. This, consequently, would cause a rise in market FISCAL DISCIPLINE  Per the Petroleum Revenue Management Law a Heritage Fund has been established into which 30 percent of the annual oil revenues would be put and invested outside Ghana. This is to cater for the  Where there is fiscal discipline and the insistence on value for money in investment, however, the windfall revenues from oil can be invested domestically in growth-enhancing projects that would yield greater benefits for future generations to come.  With the large infrastructural deficit in Ghana, the large savings-investment gap we face, and the high cost of credit, investing our oil revenue at home could yield higher future benefits than the alternative Heritage Fund. In other words a prosperous, high growth economy could be bequeathed rather than the yield from investments of the Heritage Fund.  Three key institutions have been identified as important for ensuring that our oil find proves a blessing and not a curse. These are  institutions for macroeconomic stabilization;  institutions for social insurance; and  institutions for conflict management INSTITUTIONS FOR MACROECONOMIC STABILITY  Private sector led market-oriented economies are not necessarily self-stabilizing. Shortfalls in aggregate demand can result in unemployment; and inherent instability of financial markets can be transmitted to the real sector. Fiscal and monetary institutions, therefore, are needed to  Where these institutions follow pro-cyclical rather than counter-cyclical policies, however, they could add to macroeconomic instability. These considerations have spurred the trend toward central bank independence, and have also helped open the debate on designing more robust  Social arrangements for equalizing the distribution of resources in traditional societies lose much of their social insurance functions.  As markets spread, the risks that have to be insured against become much less manageable in the traditional manner. Indeed one of the most remarkable features of the evolution of advanced market economies during the twentieth century has been the huge expansion of publicly provided social insurance program – social security, unemployment compensation, public works,  Social insurance legitimizes a market economy by rendering it compatible with social stability and social cohesion.  At the same time it must be noted that the existing welfare states engender substantial economic and social costs – mounting fiscal outlays an entitlement culture/mentally and long-term unemployment which become increasingly burdensome. Partly because some developing countries have been encouraged by the IMF, the World Bank and their development partners to adopt the market-oriented model without paying sufficient attention to creating institutions of social insurance. The upshot has been however economic insecurity and a backlash against the  In the search for an answer we will have to develop our own vision and institutional innovations that would bridge the tension between market force – the market takes no prisoners who must be fed, clothed and homed – and the legitimate yearning for economic security. The often neglected fact is indeed that the institutions needed by a country cannot be independent of its culture and history.  Societies differ in their cleavages.  In the oil era, the pertinent example here is Nigeria, “characterized” by deep cleavages along ethnic, religious, and income lines.  These divisions, when not adequately bridged, can hamper social cooperation and prevent the undertaking of mutually beneficial projects.  Social conflict is harmful. It diverts resources from economically productive activities and also discourages such activities by the uncertainty it generates.  Models of social conflict shed light on questions  Why the government might delay stabilizations when  Why in spite of the discovery of oil our economic performance in the oil era could be worse than in the preceding non-oil era,  Why external shocks – commodity terms of trade or harvest failure – could lead to protracted economic crises that are out of proportion to the divert costs of the shocks themselves.  All these situations can be thought of as due to the inability by groups in society to co-ordinate on outcomes that would be of mutual benefit.  They bring home the critical need to build and strengthen institutions that would make such distortions co-ordination failure less likely.  In the specific context of the oil era, these institutions are required to ensure that the discovery and production of oil would be a blessing and not a curse. This is what the international experience suggests for countries at our level of development.  Oil can be a blessing for Ghana. But this requires good economic management and governance.  Ghana must remain committed to building strong and sound institutions of economic management and  In addition Ghana must persevere with reaching and maintaining a stable macroeconomic environment particularly, in respect of fiscal and debt  When this is done, we can look forward with confidence to the oil and gas find being a blessing for Ghana; and Ghanaians can have legitimate hope that the oil wealth will be translated into growth, jobs, and



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