Monday, November 03, 2014



Distinguished Members of the Media,
Colleague Members of the Platform
Invited Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I must thank all of you Ladies and Gentlemen of the Press and our
Distinguished Guests for responding to our invitation. My name is Joe
Winful. I am the Executive Chairman of the Financial Accountability &
Transparency-Africa and the Chairman of the Platform that we are launching


In August 2014 the government of Ghana (GOG) requested IMF's support to
deal with the country's financial crisis which will culminate in a three
year IMF package. Ghana will be going for a full blown three year IMF
programme and a GOG Team led by the former Minister of Finance, Dr. Kwesi
Botchway has commenced negotiations with the IMF to agree on the details
of the IMF bailout. This is in order and appropriate.

However, while conceding that the negotiations must necessarily be between
government and the IMF, we will want to stress that the ultimate Agreement
will be for the citizens of Ghana and hence the need for broad
consultation with citizens during the course of the negotiations.

In the past, when such programmes have been worked out with the IMF, there
have been virtually no discussions with Civil Society and therefore no
input from Civil Society and other non-state actors. We take the view that
this lack of transparency must be avoided this time round.

Although the programme is negotiated by Government, it is essentially a
programme between the IMF and the people of Ghana. The success of the
programme will be influenced by the extent to which the citizens of Ghana
buy into the programme. A transparent process and the ability for Civil
Society and Non- State Actors to contribute to the negotiations will
facilitate the process to sell the programme to Ghanaians.

This is important because, in the past, Ghanaians have been most
apprehensive about and suspicious of IMF programmes. This apparent
distrust stems from inadequate information dissemination resulting from a
general lack of participation. Citizens must be active participants in
such Public Financial Management issues. Transparency and a perceived
sense of inclusiveness in such an important programme will benefit both
the Government and IMF.

It must be a matter of grave concern to all Ghanaians that the current
negotiations are going on without any prior conversation with the people
of Ghana represented by civil society and other non-state actors. Not even
our representatives in Parliament have been consulted prior to the
negotiations to share with the government and the negotiators their views
on the key issues to be negotiated. And yet there would be no chance for
Parliament to debate and make any changes to the agreement once it is
agreed between GOG and the Fund. Clearly the inclusion of 2 or 4 members
of the Finance Committee from both sides of the divide on the negotiating
team would have been useful.

The Platform has been formed to advocate for the views of citizens to be
taken into account in this important agreement with the Fund so that the
citizens of Ghana will buy into the Agreement and work towards a
successful execution of whatever conditionalities the Agreement imposes on
us. In our opinion, it is the only way to make this bailout the last
bailout that we will seek as a country.

A National Forum on the IMF

We recognize that on the major issues that will constitute the Agreement
with the Fund, Civil Society and other non-state actors have divergent
views. For this reason we are negotiating to hire a renowned economist to
prepare a Discussion Paper to be discussed by Civil Society and other
non-state actors at a National Forum in Accra to agree on common positions
to be adopted by Civil Society. This Forum which we have dubbed the
National Conversation will take place at the Best Western Hotel in Accra
on November 18th.

We further believe that Civil Society should help to monitor the
implementation of the Agreement that will be signed by the government.
The Platform will therefore put in place a monitoring mechanism to
oversight the implementation.

Ladies and Gentlemen the Platform will be known as the Civil Society
Platform on the IMF Bailout. The initiative to advocate for civil society
inclusiveness in major public financial management issues and in
particular the IMF negotiation was mooted by the Financial Accountability
& Transparency-Africa, IMANI Center for Policy & Education and Africa
Centre for Energy Policy.

We have now been joined by several institutions to form the Platform.
These institutions include, Penplusbytes, Ghana Integrity Initiative,
Ghana Anti Corruption Coalition, CDD, SEND Ghana, Ghana Institute for
Public Policy, OccupyGhana, African Centre for Parliamentary Affairs,
Institute of Chartered Accountants, African Centre of Parliamentary
Affairs among others.

Expanded Expected Outcomes and Benefits

Our expectations are that through our efforts, we will be able to:

· Increase public interest and discourse on a major issue in the
country's public financial management, namely, the IMF bailout.

· Promote public awareness and inclusiveness in the bailout
discussions and the fiscal programme. Engage the media, academia, faith
based organisations to embark on a sustained campaign to educate Ghanaians
on the bailout
· Give needed guidance and advice to Government's negotiating
team, and

· Obtain a Programme the details of which meet the best interests
of the people of Ghana.

Use of ICT Tools and Interventions

To reach as many citizens as possible we intend to deploy relevant ICT
tools and interventions:
1. Bulk SMS: -All the necessary information about the IMF bailout
will be reduced to easy to comprehend messages that will seek to inform
citizens about the conditions of the bail out and how that will shape the
country's financial future. This SMS will be interactive such that
citizens, based on the information received, can send back their views and
opinions with regards to the bailout.

2. Social Media: - We shall also engage citizens particularly on
Facebook and Twitter where vibrant discussions will be undertaken and
relevant citizens' comments will be collated to inform the final
recommendations that will be sent to the Ministry of Finance. The forum
will also be carried on line through Google+ hangout where as many
citizens can participate in an online forum to raise their awareness about
the pertinent issues surrounding the IMF bailout and their views collated.
3. On-line Platform: -There will be an online platform to serve as a
one-stop-shop knowledge and resource centre where all information about
the bailout will be made available. It will also serve as a citizen based
advocacy platform where citizens can send all information pertaining to
the bailout via web-forms. It will be incorporated with emailing alerts
systems that will enable easy sharing of contents among citizens and CSOs
for a collective effort in getting citizens voices heard on the bailout
and for a greater impact of the recommendations made by these identified
groups and also for citizens and CSOs to make informed contributions to
moderated discussions via email.

Ladies and gentlemen of the press at this juncture I would like to share
with you our key public message which is premised on increasing the
likelihood that this current IMF bailout under negotiations becomes "the
bailout that ends all future bailouts," by focusing on three key

1. Make broad consultation with Ghanaian citizens an integral part of
the process. A 3-year package under discussion in the context of elections
coming up in 2016 should compel GOG and IMF to build broad consensus on
the measures being negotiated, and on how to fairly distribute their
economic and social impacts. Such process should allow for inputs and
discussions with citizens representatives, including: civil society
organizations, trade unions, faith based groups, academia, media and

2. Set transparency and accountability measures that address
underlying causes fueling undisciplined public spending. Off-budget and
over-budget spending (e.g. for political patronage during election times),
corruption and lack of transparency in the management of public finances
are the root causes of Ghana having to go for an IMF bailout once more.
Nevertheless, the bailout should be seen as an opportunity to strengthen
accountability systems of both horizontal (e.g. public finance
institutions such as the auditor general and parliament) as well as
vertical (e.g. through media and ordinary citizens as watchdogs)
institutions involved in public finance oversight.

3. Protect strategic pro-poor and pro-development spending. The
burden of a fiscal adjustment should not be placed over the shoulders of
the most vulnerable, and already underserved; nor should it be done at the
cost of strategic investments on long term development. Measures should
avoid further weakening Ghana's health sector (especially in the wake of
an Ebola crisis in West Africa); avoid reducing agriculture spending that
strengthens the food security and resiliency of rural populations; and
avoid diminishing investments in the education of their children, as a
pathway out of poverty.

Ladies and gentlemen of the press, it is important to note that the CSO
platform on IMF bailout is not established to bash the GOG or to criticize
the IMF. Our contribution is to ensure citizens voices and key
stakeholders inputs are harness constructively to improve the final IMF
deal that is beneficial to Ghana and will minimize the possibility of
Ghana going back to IMF in the near future.

The platform is nonpartisan, non-religious and it not a new organisation,
however, it is a movement of committed Ghanaians who believe we can
leverage the IMF bailout to greater benefit of the country as a whole. At
the CSO platform we believe our role is not to serve as marketing
department or the mouth piece for the government of Ghana nor the IMF
during this negotiation and subsequent negotiation of the bailout and its
subsequent implementation. We will serve as a catalyst for a sustained
citizen based participatory national dialogue of each step of the IMF
bailout for Ghana.

Working together these partners will co-ordinate activities and jointly
harness our collective strength to ensure project success. Let me take
advantage of this opportunity to call on other interested concerned
citizens, CSOs, media, professional bodies to sign up and join the
platform to ensure greater and deeper engagement.
The platform craves for your maximum support, especially the media, to
achieve its objectives and finally improve the living standard of the poor
at the end of the bailout programme.
I thank you for the opportunity and I thank you all for your attention.

Mr. Joseph Winful is the Executive Chairman of the Financial
Accountability & Transparency-Africa and the Chairman of the CSO Platform
on IMF. He is a Chartered Management Accountant by profession and recently
retired as Senior Partner/CEO of the Ghana Office and an Exco Member and
also Board Member of KPMG Africa. Joe was elected Senior Partner of the
Ghana firm in 2000 and has oversight responsibilities for Sierra Leone and

International Institute for ICT Journalism

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