They focused on the cedi, inflation, interest rate and national debt
As expected, Mr Amissah-Arthur and Dr Bawumia took the centre-stage, as they attempted to rebuff each other’s assertions on issues.
But Mrs Helen Matervi of the People’s National Convention (PNC) and Nana Sarpong-Kumankuma of the Convention People’s Party (CPP), who gave good account of themselves, said whether single inflation or low inflation, the crucial issues were employment, food, women empowerment, housing, industrialisation and the need to reduce Ghana's over dependence on borrowing and imports.
The running mates of the four political parties with representation in Parliament also used the event to woo the Ghanaian electorate to vote for their respective parties.
As at 5:30pm, various pubs in the metropolis had mounted large screens to project proceedings for those who were not able to make it to the hall at the Akroma Plaza.
The Chairman of the IEA Presidential Debate Committee, Dr Mensah Otabil, in a short statement, said the focus of the event was to enhance democracy and good governance.
The moderators set the debate in motion when they fired questions to the debaters to share their views and visions on the economy.
Apart from the economic issues, the debaters answered questions on regional integration, housing and sanitation.
On how to halt the free fall of the cedi, the NPP running mate Dr Bawumia criticised the NDC’s economic policy, saying that within the four year period of the NDC government, the cedi had depreciated more than it did during the eight year period of the Kufour-led administration.
To address the problem he said, the next NPP administration would change the production mix of the country and avoid excessive borrowing as well as apply prudent measures.
Responding, Vice President Amissah-Arthur, who is the NDC running mate, patted the government on the back and said for the first time in the history of Ghana, the cedi had recorded sustained stability in an election year.
He atrributed the fall of the cedi to the movement of assets into foreign exchange, thus putting pressure on the currency.
He indicated that the government had put in place an incentive package for people to hold cedi assets to help halt the cedi decline.
But Dr Bawumia rebuffed the Vice President’s assertions, contending that an election year did not necessarily cause a decline of the cedi and rather blamed the situation on the mismanagement of the economy by the NDC government.
Dr Bawumia said the policy being implemented by the government was not sustainable, adding that the monetary policy rate of the Bank of Ghana was in limbo and ineffective. He described the single digit inflation regime as “artificial”.
On single digit inflation vis-a-vis high interest rates, Dr Bawumia said the erstwhile NPP administration managed to reduce inflation from 41 per cent to 18 per cent with a relatively low interest rate as against the current situation.
He indicated that an NPP government would resource the Ghana Statistical Service to carry out its mandate coupled with giving the institution the indepedence to do its work.
According to him the there was a total disconnect between the much touted single digit inflation and the current living condition.
Reacting, Mr Amissah-Arthur said the NDC administration had been working hard in the last three years to bring down interest rates and that borrowing was resulting in the slow reduction in interest rate.
Taking her turn, the CPP candidate, Nana Sarpong-Kumankuma, said the haggling over economic figures by the NDC and NPP candidates on the platform, was a reflection of their parties inability to better the lives of the people, having had the opportunity to govern the country.
She said a CPP administration would place premium on agriculture by cutting down on excessive imports and focus on economic growth.
Outlining her party’s solutions to the problem facing the country, the PNC candidate, Mrs Matervi said her party would increase education in all sectors of the national economy as well as reduce reliance on imported products.
The CPP running rate said, if her party was given the mandate to form the next government, it would return to the basics by ensuring self-reliance and food security.
On measures to facilitate regional integration, all the candidates underscored the need to improve regional infrastructure and remove all barriers that impede economic trade.
Dr Bawumia expressed the belief that with a strong political will, regional integration was possible and that the implementation of all relevant trade protocols was key to addressing the issue.
Vice President Amissah-Arthur, for his part, called for the deepening of a fiscal union to accelerate the process of having a single monetary currency.
Nana Sarpong-Kumankuma of the CPP said her party since independence had been a crusader of economic integration, asserting that the party would not depart from that principle if elected.