For a man tasked to keep the financial purse of a country of 30million, Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta says he barely sleeps.
“I don’t think I can sleep more than four hours” he replied. “So, if I make a mistake to sleep at 12am I am up at 4 am so 1 am or 2 am is better then you wake up at 6 am like everybody.”
It was in response to a question by Asaase FM show host, Kwaku Saky-Addo, who wanted to know whether Ghana’s financial challenges kept the Finance Minister awake at night staring at the ceiling of his bedroom racking his brains for answers.
Doctors advise that the body must enjoy at least seven-hour sleep every day. But it appears the coronavirus pandemic is re-writing sleep rules for some finance ministers all over the world.
The budget reading in parliament last week Thursday was delayed for some two hours as the finance minister was reportedly making some last-minute changes.
He went to parliament to ask legislators to approve GHC.11.8bn in additional expenditures.
This would raise Ghana’s projected expenditure to GH 109.9billion for 2020, one of the highest in recent years as COVID-19 is expected to swallow up to GHC 30 billion.
Ghana missed its revenue shortfall for the first quarter and as the GHC 98 billion sanctioned by parliament in 2019 also proved inadequate.
Mr Ofori-Atta believes Ghanaians are “God’s people” and Ghana’s problems are “God’s problem” and he is just “a vehicle for resolution so you can’t bear that burden”.
The handling of COVID-19, banking clean-up requiring GHC 21million, and a myriad of other issues have triggered criticism from the opposition, clergy, and some analysts.
But Mr. Ofori-Atta suggests that he cannot please everyone but to pursue an objective that best suits the country.
He recalled previous discussions with now-former Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Christine Lagarde, who told him that if everyone loves him as Finance Minister then he must be doing something wrong.
“So, you go there and you do what you have to do to protect the economic purse and create economic freedom,” he added.
For him, it was an honour to serve in government as Finance Minister after a successful career in the financial sector.
Mr. Ofori-Atta, a relative of President Nana Akufo-Addo, is following the legacy of his ancestors William Ofori Atta, Joseph Boakye Danquah, and Edward Akufo-Addo.
The trio were founding members of the United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC) and also members of the Big Six who were jailed in 1948 following disturbances that led to the killing of three World War II veterans.
The UGCC was pursuing freedom from the shackles of Ghana’s colonial masters at the time.
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