Economy not in distress… Finance Ministry denies Bloomberg report

Ghana’s economic fundamentals remain strong with improvement in its debt and liability management, the Ministry of Finance has assured the country’s investors.

It said in spite of the global challenges occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic, the country does not face any imminent external imbalances or reserves shortfall, contrary to media reports.

A statement issued by the Public Relations Unit of the Ministry, yesterday described the Bloomberg article captioned – “Ghana Debt Moves Deeper into Distress as Investors lose Patience” as misleading.

“Despite the global challenges that exists on the back of the covid-19 pandemic and especially in emerging markets, with risks such as financial stress and sluggish progress on vaccination as recently cited by the World Bank, the Ministry would like to reassure all its investors that Ghana’s fundamentals remain strong.

“[It is] attested to by: our growth in Q3-2021; the Ghana Revenue Authority exceeding its target in 2021; and our strong reserves position. Ghana will continue to show leadership in these difficult post-Covid era to build a sustainable, entrepreneurial nation while ensuring that growth, job creation and fiscal consolidation are not compromised, in line with the President’s vision of a Ghana Beyond Aid”, it said.

Correcting the “serious factual errors” in the article, it said contrary  the 81.5 per cent mentioned as the country’s end of year debt to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ratio, the provisional nominal debt to GDP, as at the end of November 2021 was 78.4 per cent , which is the latest data available.

He said the Ghana’s debt to GDP figures a decade ago were 39.67 per cent and 47.80 per cent for 2011 and 2012, respectively, and not 31.4 per as stated in the Bloomberg publication.

For the period prior to the COVID-19 global pandemic, it said Ghana experienced an average debt-to-GDP ratio of 56.4 per cent from 2015 to 2019 while in 2020, Ghana’s GDP grew by 0.4 per cent because of the impact of the Covid-19 Pandemic on the economy.

It explained that financing of the additional Covid-19 related expenditures, in addition to revised revenue targets, due to the impact of the pandemic, led to an increase in debt-to-GDP from 62.4 per cent in 2019 to 76.1 per cent in 2020.

“The current 78.4 per cent debt-to-GDP ratio as at the end of November 2021 indicates rather a reduction in the rate of debt accumulation (i.e. declined by a half to 18 per cent as at November 2021 from 34% per cent in 2020).

“This attests to an improvement in our debt and liability management, contrary to what the article seeks to suggest. Furthermore, with the positive Primary balance target for 2022 – one of the key fiscal anchors in 2022 – Ghana should see improved stability and reduction in the debt to GDP ratio in 2022 and through the medium term”, it said.

The statement said it was unfortunate that foreign investors and market participants were on edge following the impasse in Parliament, in relation to the passage of the E-levy Bill.

“The market seems to now be pricing into our bonds the perceived risks of having a slim majority in Parliament and the consequences thereof. The markets also seem to be concerned that this might impact the government’s ability to successfully pass and implement some of its major revenue policy measures as presented in the 2022 Budget.

“ The Ministry would like to state that a healthy debate in a vibrant Parliament is a critical part of Ghana’s growing democratic credentials and by no means should it be deemed to be a fiscal risk”, it said.

The statement expressed the government’s confident that when Parliament resumes sitting this month, the E-Levy Bill, which has already been discussed and approved by the Finance Committee of Parliament, would be passed.

BY TIMES REPORTER

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