Some 25 years ago, The Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) opened its doors to pave the way for research and advocacy on pertinent governance and economic issues.
Since then, the IEA has worked tirelessly to advance the economic and democratic landscape of Ghana. On the occasion of our Silver Jubilee this year, we pause to reflect on our work, salute our partners and stakeholders who have travelled this journey with us, and draw inspiration to advance the frontiers of development for the years ahead.
Influencing the Reform Agenda in Ghana through Research and Advocacy
Our evidence-based research, backed by persistent advocacy, has resulted in several key reforms that have helped consolidate Ghanaï¿½s democracy and promoted sustainable economic development. These reforms include:
ï¿½ Passage of the Serious Fraud Office Act, 1993 (Act 466)
Through our groundbreaking research and advocacy, we raised public awareness on the unconstitutionality of the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) Bill. Following persistent advocacy, 23 clauses were expunged from the Bill before it was passed as the Serious Fraud Office Act (Act 466) in 1993.
ï¿½ Repeal of the Criminal Libel and Sedition Laws, 2001
The IEA won the campaign to repeal the Criminal Libel and Sedition Laws in 2001 following research and advocacy, thereby creating an enabling environment for press freedom in Ghana. Today, the fruits of press freedom are enjoyed by all Ghanaians.
ï¿½ Passage of the Whistleblower Act, 2006 (Act 720)
In 2006, an IEA-led initiative, the Whistleblower Bill, was passed into law as the Whistle Blower Act (Act 720). This Act seeks to regulate the manner in which individuals may, in the public interest, disclose information that relate to unlawful or other illegal conduct or corrupt practices of public officials; and provides for the protection against victimization of persons who make these disclosures.
ï¿½ Contribution to the Petroleum Revenue Management Act, 2011 (Act 815)
Following the discovery of oil in commercial quantities in 2010, The IEA undertook research and tabled proposals with the view to ensuring that Ghana would not have a reoccurrence of the deficiencies that had characterized the management of other resources, such as gold and diamond. Among the proposals made was the need to establish a Heritage Fund to ensure that future generations also benefitted from the revenues. The IEA further proposed the establishment of a Stabilization Fund to cushion the economy from future shocks. We further proposed the establishment of a public oversight body to guarantee transparency and accountability in the use of oil revenues. It is gratifying to note that these and other proposals of The IEA were incorporated into what in 2011 became the Petroleum Revenue Management Act (Act 815).
ï¿½ Passage of the Presidential (Transition) Act, 2012 (Act 845)
In furtherance of our mission of consolidating Ghanaï¿½s democracy, The IEA in 2007 drafted the Presidential (Transition) Bill. The Bill was passed into law as the Presidential (Transition) Act (Act 845) in 2012. This piece of legislation provides a framework for managing the political transfer of power from an out-going democratically elected President to an incoming President. The lawï¿½s benefits also transcend regime change. Its strong attributes in the areas of accountability and institutional reform are valuable mechanism regardless of the election cycle, as the Act also aims to ensure the effective functioning of government machinery.
ï¿½ Key Bills in the Pipeline
In addition to the above key reforms, The IEA has initiated several Bills which are yet to be passed into law. These include:
- The Right to Information Bill (1996),
- Public Funding of Political Parties Bill (2007), and
- Revised Political Parties Bill (2007).
ï¿½ Contribution to 1992 Constitution Review Process
Another significant contribution to the deepening of Ghanaï¿½s democracy is our research and advocacy that led to the review of the 1992 Constitution. Following research and nationwide public consultations, the IEA put forward over 25 proposals for the reform of the 1992 Constitution in a study dubbed the Democracy Consolidation Strategy Paper. Several of our proposals were considered as part of Ghanaï¿½s Constitutional Review process and a number were accepted and are contained in both the Constitution Review Commissionï¿½s (CRC) report and the Government White Paper. Some of the accepted proposals include the need to have a ceiling on the number of Supreme Court judges that may be appointed and the recommendation that chiefs should remain under the constitutional injunction that bans them from active partisan politics.
Current Research Initiatives
Our current research initiatives have included:
ï¿½ Review of the Winner-Takes-All Practice of Governance
Recognizing that Winner-Takes-All (WTA) politics polarizes the body politic and stifles development, The IEA has initiated research and advocacy on the practice with the view to proposing practical recommendations for reform. To date, The IEA has undertaken nation-wide public consultations and met with identifiable groups to discuss the findings of its research on the phenomenon. The IEA has provoked public debate on the issue. It is our expectation that our recommendations will lead to a reform of the practice.
ï¿½ Review of Ghanaï¿½s Electoral System
In line with our commitment to consolidate multiparty democracy and promote acceptable elections, The IEA in 2013 initiated the process of reforming Ghanaï¿½s electoral system. To date, The IEA has produced extensive research detailing over twenty proposals for electoral reform. Notable among these proposals include the need to amend section 46 of Act 284, Representation of Peoples Act which requires the written consent of the Attorney-General before election-related crimes could be prosecuted, to allow the Police to carry out prosecution of all electoral offences. Our research and persistent advocacy has encouraged public awareness and discourse on the issue. It is our expectation that our proposals would inform the review of our electoral system.
The IEA continues to undertake studies on wide-ranging areas that respond to the dynamics of the economy.
ï¿½ Macroeconomic Stability and Debt Sustainability
Over the past few years, macroeconomic stability and debt sustainability have constituted key components of IEA research, given their importance for sustained growth. Among others, The IEAï¿½s research has focused on Monetary Policy and Inflation Dynamics, the Macroeconomic Implications of High Fiscal Deficits, Exchange Rate Policy and Dynamics, Debt Profile and Sustainability, and Budget Preparation, Implementation and Oversight. Based on the results of its research, The IEA continues to call for further strengthening of inflation management, strengthening of budget controls and oversight to reduce budgetary overruns, entrenchment of fiscal discipline, including through passage of a Fiscal Responsibility Law, and ensuring transformation of the economy to underpin exchange rate stability.
ï¿½ Financial Intermediation
Our research and advocacy have drawn attention to the low financial intermediation and the high cost of credit in Ghana, which have adversely affected investment and economic growth. In a recent research paper in this area we recommended better regulation of the financial sector, a call that led to the Governor of the Central Bank, at the instance of the late President Mills, instituting guidelines for setting the banksï¿½ base lending rates. Subsequently in 2014, The IEA also called for measures to deepen financial intermediation and to make credit affordable to the private sector and SMEs in particular, recommendations that were well received, especially among the business community.
ï¿½ Oil and Gas Sector
With the advent of oil and gas in Ghana, we undertook significant research and advocacy so as to promote good governance in the sector through transparent, accountable and efficient management of revenues. Our research in this area concentrated on developing and applying an index for tracking transparency and accountability in the oil and gas sector. This index, the Petroleum Transparency and Accountability (P-TRAC) Index, has been applied to Ghana. Our recommendations include the following:
a. Bills Proposed
- The Ghana Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative Bill-Passed
- Right to Information Bill ï¿½ Pending
- The Local Content and Local Participation Bill ï¿½ Passed
- The Petroleum Exploration and Production Bill ï¿½ Pending
b. The Auditor General should publish audited reports of Ghana Petroleum Funds ï¿½ Implemented.
c. Relevant Parliamentary Committees and the Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC) should be resourced to enable them carry out their mandates effectively ï¿½ Not Implemented.
ï¿½ Other Natural Resources
The IEA has led sustained advocacy to ensure fair taxation of the mining sector in the light of the sectorï¿½s limited contribution to government revenue. This advocacy culminated in The Instituteï¿½s drafting of a paper on Windfall Profit Tax in 2011 for consideration by government and key stakeholders. The then Minister of Finance, Dr. Kwabena Duffuor, mentioned these recommendations in his budget statement to Parliament. Unfortunately, these recommendations have not been implemented.
ï¿½ Economic Transformation and Self-sufficiency
Recognizing the importance of transforming the Ghanaian economy so as to achieve self-sufficiency as a means to sustaining Ghanaï¿½s development and poverty alleviation, The IEA focused its research on issues relating to mitigating the adverse effects of economic liberalization, reducing aid dependency by exploring alternative resources, transforming the Ghanaian economy from its ï¿½colonial structure,ï¿½ and improving Ghanaï¿½s socio-economic conditions commensurate with its new middle- income status. These studies have helped influence the thinking of politicians and policymakers on the need to diversify the colonial primary raw material-based economy to a more industrialized and competitive one.
ï¿½ Contribution to the Work of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the Bank of Ghana and the Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC) of the Oil and Gas Sector
In the last two years, The IEA has had the unique privilege of being represented on the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) and the Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC) of the Oil and Gas Sector. The IEA has used its membership of these Committees to espouse and advocate for policies in oil and gas governance and general economic management backed by The Instituteï¿½s research work.
Creating Platforms for Bi-partisan Political Discourse
Since its founding, The Institute has served to create an independent platform where pertinent policy issues are discussed in a non-partisan manner. This has helped broker consensus among key stakeholders and has led to key policy reforms in Ghana.
To crystallize the benefits emanating from that approach, The IEA in 2003 commenced the IEA/Ghana Political Parties Programme (GPPP) which brings together leaders of parliamentary political parties to identify policy issues confronting the country and to discuss and reach consensus on these issues.
It is important to note that the Presidential Transition Act (Act 845) is an outcome of this initiative. Likewise the Revised Political Parties Bill (2007) and the Public Funding of Political Parties Bill (2007) are outcomes of the IEA/Ghana Political Parties Programme.
Another key outcome of this initiative is the Political Parties Code of Conduct, 2004, 2008 and 2012 that guides the conduct of party officials and their apparatchiks before, during and after elections. Indeed, the Code has contributed immensely to Ghanaï¿½s electoral peace. The Programme has not only sought to facilitate consensus among different parties but also minimized the political polarization and acrimony that existed among party leaders in the country.
Promoting Political Accountability and Issues-based Elections
No electoral cycle in Ghana is complete without the Presidential Debates (begun in 2000) and the Vice Presidential Debates and Evening Encounters (begun in 2008). The IEA has worked tirelessly to provide an independent, neutral platform for the healthy contestation of ideas. This is in line with its belief that those who wish to govern must subject themselves to probing questions by the people to ensure that they understand the concerns of the electorate, and have the capacity to address them. The platforms have enabled the candidates to sell their visions and demonstrate their capacity to solve national problems. The debates have helped focus the elections on issues rather than on personalities, leading to the defusing political tension. It is worth noting that history was made when in 2012 the sitting president of Ghana participated in the debate for the first time.
Building and Strengthening the Capacity of Key Institutions of State and Civil Society
Recognizing that strong credible institutions would serve as a vehicle for good governance and economic development, The IEA designed programmes to provide technical assistance to key institutions of state, particularly Parliament:
ï¿½ Orientation Programme
Since the first Parliament under the 4th Republican Constitution (the Justice D.F. Annan Parliament) The IEA designed orientation programmes to introduce MPs to the workings of Parliament to help them understand their role as parliamentarians. To date new MPs continue to receive orientation along the lines originally proposed by The IEA.
ï¿½ Technical Workshops
Together with the leadership of Parliament, The IEA identified critical documents to be discussed and reviewed during each session of the House, and provided technical support to MPs by organizing weekend schools and workshops. This was geared towards equipping them with the requisite knowledge, skills and tools and enabled MPs to contribute meaningfully when the document was being discussed on the floor of the House. To date, this has become a standard procedure where Parliament holds retreats and workshops on critical documents for MPs.
ï¿½ Legislative Research Assistants Programme
Fully aware that research is a vital ingredient for policy formulation, The IEA in 1994 recruited and trained young university graduates in the rudiments of research and policy analysis. These assistants were attached to the Committees of the House to assist Parliamentarians with research. Today a number of Legislative Research Assistants have become permanent clerks of the House.
ï¿½ The Speakers Breakfast Forum
As part of our efforts to demystify Parliament and enhance its engagement with the public, The IEA initiated the Speakers Breakfast Forum in1996. The objective of the Speakers Breakfast Forum was to ensure that issues of national importance were discussed in Parliament. Through this forum, The IEA succeeded in having burning issues discussed by the highest levels of Parliament with opinion leaders, academia, civil society and the business community. This not only allowed the public to learn about Palriamentï¿½s views on these issues, but also allowed Parliament to hear the peoplesï¿½ views on the issues. The results of this healthy collaboration opened the door for The IEA to submit and present its critique on the Serious Fraud Office Bill in Parliament which subsequently influenced the final Act. Ultimately, the Speakers Breakfast Forum served as an avenue to influence the reform agenda.
Bearing in mind the role of civil society in safeguarding our democracy, The IEA introduced into the Ghanaian political cycle the need for an independent election observation in 1996. In furtherance of this objective, The IEA established the National Association of Domestic Election Observers (NADEO) to monitor the elections of 1996. Since then, other observer groups have been formed along those same lines.
Serving as a Resource Centre for Public Education
Bridging the world of ideas and action, The IEA continues to translate academic research and analysis on policy issues into practical information, and recommendations for policy makers. Through its publications, The IEA makes important information available to the Ghanaian public thereby encouraging debate on numerous policy issues. To this end, we publish a wide array of research and scholarly material which are distributed to the benefit of a wide global audience. The Institute boasts of over 500 publications which range from short policy briefs i.e. 4-6 pages; namely Legislative Alerts, Governance Newsletters, Policy Analysis, Public Opinion; to the more voluminous documents; Monographs, the Economic Review and Outlook Series, Annual Ghana Policy Journal and the Petroleum Transparency and Accountability Index Report and the Occasional Papers series. These are made available at the doorstep of key stakeholders throughout the country. The repertoire of research products has in no small way provided knowledge and education on a variety of subjects and also shaped the national policy agenda.
International Recognition as a Thought Leader in Ghana and the Sub-region
From humble beginnings in 1989, the IEA has burgeoned into an internationally recognized thought leader in Ghana and West Africa. The Institute continues to play host to many influential leaders from around the world. These eminent visitors to The IEA seek an objective and analytical discussion on economic and governance issues and include sitting and former Presidents, Ministers of State, Members of Parliament, Kings and Queens and many other influential global leaders including: the King and Queen of the Netherlands, King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima; President de Klerk of South Africa; President Sir Ketumile Masire of Botswana; President Kaspar Villiger of Switzerland, Sir Paul Collier, a renowned world-class Economist; Henry Bellingham, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, UK; Morgan Tsvangirai, former Prime Minister of Zimbabwe; President Chissano of Mozambique; Bono of U2; and Villy Sovndal, Danish Foreign Minister, among others.
Exporting Democracy to the West African Sub Region
Desirous of spreading the gains made under the Ghana Political Parties Programme (GPPP) to countries in the sub reigion, The Institute in 2006 initiated the West Africa Regional Programme of Political Parties (WARPPP). The programme brings together the leaders of political parties in 7 West African countries including Liberia, Sierra Leone, Cote dï¿½Ivoire, Benin, Togo, Mali and Nigeria to share lessons, experiences and best practices with their Ghanaian counterparts for the purpose of promoting peace and stability in the sub-region. To date, some of the countries involved have replicated programmes similar to the IEA-GPPP.
It is worth noting that the current President of Sierra Leone, His Excellency Ernest Bai Koroma, having attended and benefitted from several meetings and exchanges with his Ghanaian counterparts when he was the Chairman of his party (the All Peoples Congress), invited the IEA/GPPP to Sierra Leone on his assumption of power in 2007. The visit was to enable the GPPP members share Ghanaï¿½s experiences on the transfer of power in 2001 with the leaders of political parties in Sierra Leone. The visit succeeded diffusing political tensions and ensured a smooth transfer of power in Sierra Leone.
Clearly, the establishment of the WARPPP is in direct fulfillment of the ultimate mission of The IEA, which is to promote good governance, multi party democracy and a fair market economy not only in Ghana, but also in West Africa and the entire continent of Africa.
On the occasion of our Silver Jubilee, we look back with gratitude and pride on our humble founding and modest beginnings, and the trail-blazing effort which has paved the way for the emergence of other independent policy centers and think tanks in Ghana and in Africa as a whole. We thank in particular, our pioneering fathers, and indeed all our partners and stakeholders, without whom we could not have chalked these profound milestones. We draw inspiration and look ahead with a keen sense of determination to live up to our mandate of creating a more prosperous and free society.
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