Every Ghanaian citizen and foreigners alike living or doing business in Ghana, can testify to the fact that the economy is collapsing. Majority face harsh conditions as a result of the depreciation of the local currency, the cedis at the foreign exchange market.
The Finance Minister, Seth Terkper disclosed to the media that the situation is to be blamed on the foreign currencies, adding that with no sign of stability the depreciation of cedi is definitely affecting the economic situation in the country. He revealed that in the interbank market, the Ghana cedi recorded cummulative annual depreciation of 14.6 % against the US dollar, which made the Bank of Ghana inject 20 million dollars into the critical areas of the economy in an effort to save the cedi from further damage.
However, despite all the efforts being put in place by the President John Mahama led administration to save Ghanaians from the economic hardship and restore the currency to its former state, all seemed abortive as citizens in various walks of life all seem to be on the same page as per the hardship faced, especially by the lower income earners, business men and women, etc.
In this regard, ENCOMIUM Weekly interviewed individuals from various fields of life on how the economic situation and cedi depreciation has affected their business. Thess are the responses that we collated…
(TV host and real estate operator)
It has affected in me in a very drastic way. If you run a TV station for instance, and you don’t have electricity, you have to buy fuel to power the generator. And for production too, it’s the same, not to talk of shooting and editing in the studio. And the other thing is the increase of dollar rate. And for those of us that have fixed deposit, you lose unnecessarily which is wrong. If you change like 100 dollars into cedis and you put it in a fixed deposit, in another two to three weeks, the cedi depreciates and that 100 dollars depreciate to like 50 dollars. So these days, I don’t do fix deposit again, I just put the money back into something productive that can give you quick money or you save in dollars. But we thank God, we are still surviving.
MIKE ODEKA (Film producer)
Ghana, economy is very bad now due to the dumsor’s and the dollar not being stable. It doesn’t allow me to plan, because you don’t know what the dollar will turn to. And being a movie producer, we observed that people stopped buying movies during the time the electricity supply became bad because they didn’t have light to watch the movies. I mean, it’s affecting us in all ramifications, production wise and duplicating of the CD. Above all, the money we spend in making movies is so high now, that is, cost of production is so high now due to high exchange rate of dollar. So, I’ve stopped production of movies for now, because people stopped buying movies, due to the hardship in the country.
(Graphic designer and printer)
With regards to my business, I will say the economy is not doing well. It has affected my business, I’m into graphic design and printing. And basically looking at printing aspect of my work, most of the consumables that I need to print the work, like the toners, are all imported. So, obviously, with regards to cedi depreciation it affects it 100 percent because there are times when you are buying these consumables, and because of the nature of the business we have a lot of people that are also into the business and it becomes quite competitive. And when it happens that the cedi goes down, it becomes quite challenging to come down on the prizes or cost. Some other people are coming down and you will want to fit into that category and you end up losing. At the end of the day you find out that particular area of my work is badly affected by the instability of the economy. And if I am asked to advice the government on this issue, I will say some countries have already taken the pace, and we as Africans, particularly Ghanaians, can follow suit. There are so many things that are imported into the country which I believe we can produce here. Of course, the moment we depend on importation of all the things that most business people need, materials, tools, even food which I’m very sure you are much aware, we depend solely on importation, this affects the economy badly. So, I believe the government can instrument or structure the school in a way that we can also begin to learn to do things the country can benefit from. For instance, the paper we use in printing is imported; we can’t even produce paper in Ghana. At least these are basic things; the shoes that we wear most of them are imported. But if they empower the youths and pump money in that area, then we could at least move forward.
RUBY ELEGBE (Marketer)
I will say it’s affecting everyone’s pocket. I don’t think there is anybody in Ghana now who is not affected by this harsh economy. Because your plan and your budget are affected, there are moments you want to buy something and you have allocation already, but before you know it…there was a time I bought a laptop, at a particular dollar rate, but they made me understand that because of the rise and fall of the dollar, I should be ready because I was paying in installment. So, when I come next month to pay, the bill could have gone up. So I had to pay the dollar difference. Yeah, I did, because you could see clearly that it’s not the seller’s fault. And the problem is, we are all expecting the government to do something. I’m not an economist, so I won’t say the government should do this or that. In fact, when they came out to say they pumped some money into the economy, everybody thought that was a wrong move; I’m just following the story…so, I can’t recommend anything. They should just try and fix it because people are really suffering.
MRS. DELALI ATUPRA
(Private school proprietress)
You know the answer already. The situation is really telling on us. Of course, it’s affecting parents. Payment of fees has become a challenge and even buying of books for their wards. And the turnaround is that it’s also affecting the school, we buy the things we need and pay our workers, you understand. At the end of the month when the money is not available, you have to go into your own pocket and bring out money to pay your own workers and it’s really telling on us. The cedi has really depreciated, it’s difficult to increase school fees, but parents are already crying, and it’s a big challenge. This term, we could not increase at all even though we need to because things have gone up. And the damage is so bad they should stabilize the money. And personally, I think they are not telling us where the real damage is coming from. If they can just be open to us, because they are always covering things up and spending money on things that are not important, paying debts they are not supposed to pay at this time. So, I feel they should just be open to the public, so we can know the extent of the damage and we can all put our heads together to see how the problem can be solved.
NANA AMA (Business woman)
The current economic situation is not good for business at all. Based on the kind of commodities I deal with, it’s hard for even my regular customers to come around and shop. Because everyday prizes keep going up. Look at this sleek powder, last week it was 38 cedis, but this week it has been sold for 40 cedis, just because the dollar rate keeps going up. And in Ghana, the dollar is stronger than our own currency. I don’t know why the government can’t ban or restrict the use of dollar in the business sector. I tell you that some schools and hotels only accept dollars for payment. So, how do we expect the cedi to increase in value in such circumstance? The government needs to take some drastic measures, to bring things back to normal. But it’s like sometimes they are afraid they will be stepping on toes, if they take such actions, while majority of the citizens are left to suffer. I guess those in high positions can’t really feel the harshness, because most of them live and work in a comfort zone. But I know that, definitely a time will come when this suffering will come to an end in Ghana, if not totally, but almost. Right now, Nigeria is experiencing new governance, so with patience this harsh economic condition will become a thing of the past for us in Ghana.
MUMUNI MAHAMA (Business man)
For me, even though I’m a businessman, I wouldn’t advice anybody that is doing business or about to start one to depend on the government. They promised to deliver some set of barges to improve electricity and they have not been able to even deliver just two from January till date. I saw the report in the news. Electricity is better now thanks to the rain, at least, the Akosombo Dam can give us little to augment what we are getting now and that is a relief. And personally, I don’t have any advice to give them, because they know what they need to do, but pretend they don’t know. And I won’t blame them, because some of them are benefitting from the situation, so how will they want things to change. A lot of the less privileged are out there on the street trying to survive and gradually crime rate is increasing now, because people want quick money. Every day you turn on your TV and what you see or hear is that this or that person is missing due to money rituals. May God help us.
SETH AKWAVUA (Car dealer)
The situation is so bad that when you mention the prices for the cars, the buyers just run (laughs) It’s not funny. And all these are as a result of the exchange rate, because so many of the currencies depend on the dollar to survive, and it is really killing business for people like us. Selling cars is a big problem now in the country. It’s very bad…I’m even thinking of probably investing in another business soon if I’m able to sell the ones I have now.