In America, they say: “Time is money”, but Ghana’s delegation to this year’s annual meeting of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Washington DC failed to realize this, as the Finance Minister, Dr. Kwabena Duffuor, was nowhere to be found when proceedings began.

Visibly Empty seats

While all the delegates to this year’s meeting were seated at the Constitutional Hall by 10am on Friday, as stated in the programme of the Bretton Woods Institutions, Dr. Duffuor and his deputy, Fifi Kwetey, representing Ghana, arrived at the venue 54 minutes late. Their empty seats ‘yawned’ glaringly in the hall while all other delegates were firmly seated and the programme had begun.

The opening ceremony, which lasted one-and-a-half hours, saw the Nigerian Finance Minister, Olusegun Aganga, delivering a very powerful speech, with most of the delegates giving him thumbs up.
Aganga did not only use the occasion to showcase the potential of his country, but also told the whole world that Nigeria would soon become the next country in the world to rival the Asian Tigers such as Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

As at the time of delivering his speech, Ghana’s Finance Minister and his deputy were visibly missing in action and this perhaps compelled the Director-General of the National Development Planning Commission, Regina Adutwumwaa, and two other subordinates to sit in for their bosses even though the programme was for central bank governors and ministers of finance.

“Your ministers might be somewhere drinking tea,” an all-knowing journalist from Nigeria teased his Ghanaian colleagues, stating that some African leaders are fond of doing that.

Ghana was allocated four seats and they were on the same roll with Germany. The German delegates, who knew very well that the plenary meeting was a platform for movers and shakers of the world’s economy, were on time and seated before 9:30am.

Sources close to DAILY GUIDE indicated that the Minister and his deputy were locked up in traffic but the adage says “the early bird catches the worm.”

Analysts say there are far-reaching implications for Ghana’s economy in the light of the lateness of the ministers. This is because their tickets and per diems were borne by the taxpayers in Ghana.

As keepers of the national purse, it is expected that in this era where austerity measures have become the order of the day, in addition to the “Better Ghana Agenda”, these ministers are expected to be mindful of the value of every second spent and its implication in lifting Ghana out of poverty.

This is because time is the only common denominator that God has endowed everyone on the face of the earth and this is why economic indicators are always measured against time.

The second deputy governor of the Bank of Ghana, Millisson Narh, who was also sponsored by the taxpayers’ money to represent Ghana, did not even show up at the opening session at all.

During the NPP era, the late Finance Minister, Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu always used the meeting to showcase Ghana’s exploits and at the same time made valuable contributions at consultative meetings in order to woo investors into the country.

This, no wonder, won him the Best Economic and Finance Minister in Africa and the Emerging Market for 2007.

Each year, the World Bank and IMF bring to Washington about 10,000 central bankers, ministers of finance, private sector executives, and academics to discuss issues of global concern, including the world economic outlook, poverty eradication, economic development, and aid effectiveness.

Most delegates use the event as a platform to showcase their potential and also woo investors to their countries.

One clear message that dominated the meeting was that Africa is expected to lead the global economy out of crisis.

The World Economic Outlook Report that was launched in Washington DC last Wednesday said Ghana and other emerging economies in the world were set to grow nearly three times faster than rich nations next year.

Analysts therefore say Ghana’s role in leading the global economy out of crisis could not be overlooked and that was why the lateness of the Finance Minister and his deputy should not to be countenanced. This is because leadership, they say, is by example.

From Felix Dela Klutse, Washington DC