Report by Farida Shaibu
Civil Society Organisation (CSO) have launched a platform in Accra to address the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Bailout to Ghana.
The platform seeks to engage citizens on issues concerning the bailout negotiations and pertinent areas that need government’s reaction to the benefit of all.
Mr Joe Winful, Chairman of the CSO Platform, said it is important that citizens participate in agreement to the programme by taking part in the negotiations. He said it was time for CSOs and other non-state actors to involve themselves in such discussions to make inputs to avoid the lack of transparency.
The platform made up of several institutions including Penplusbytes, Ghana anti-corruption Coalition, Centre for democratic Development, IMANI Ghana, Ghana Institute for Public Policy, Occupy Ghana, African Centre for parliamentary Affairs, Institute for Chartered Accountants, Oxfam Ghana, Financial Accountability and Transparency- Africa, and Ghana Integrity Initiative.
Mr Winful noted that even though the programme was negotiated by Government, its success would be influenced by the citizen’s acceptance of the programme.
“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,” he added.
He said it is worrying that the current negotiations are on-going without any prior conversation with the people represented by civil society and other non-state actors, including Members of Parliament.
He said the CSO Platform on IMF Bailout is not established to criticize Government or the IMF but to ensure that citizen’s voices and key stakeholders inputs are taken into consideration so that they would buy into the agreement and work towards a successful execution of any conditionality that would be imposed on the country.
This, he said would improve the final IMF deal that is beneficial to Ghana and minimise the possibility of Ghana going back to IMF in the near future.
He said the platform expects that through their actions they would be able to increase public interest and discourse on a major issues on the IMF bailout; promote public awareness and inclusiveness in the bailout discussions and the fiscal programme; give needed guidance and advice to Government’s negotiating team, and obtain a programme that would meet the best interest of the people.
This, he said, could be achieved through reaching as many citizens as possible to deploy relevant ICT tools and interventions, such as bulk SMS, Social Media and on-line Platform to make informed contributions and to moderate discussions via email.
Mr Winful explained that the Platform is a movement of committed Ghanaians who believe they could influence the IMF bailout to the greater benefit of the country- thus, it is non-partisan or non-religious.
“The CSO Platform will serve as a catalyst for a sustained citizen-based participatory national dialogue of each step of the IMF bailout for Ghana,” he added.
He also announced that the platform would be working with key pillars to initiate conversations to hold a national forum in Accra to discuss and agree on common positions on the key issues by civil society to inform both Government and IMF.
It would also engage the media, academia, faith-based organisations, among others to embark on a sustained campaign to educate Ghanaians on the bailout, agree on mechanisms to monitor the implementation of the final agreement that comes out of the negotiations.
The IMF programme is expected to begin from January 2015.