Ghana’s public debt stock hits GH₵214.9 billion

Ghana’s public debt stock reached GH₵214.9 billion at the end of November last year, representing 62.1 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), according to the Bank of Ghana (BoG).

Domestic debt constituted GH₵102.9 billion while external debt was G₵111.9 billion representing 52 .1 per cent of the total figure.

Dr Ernest Addison told journalists at the maiden Monetary Policy Committee press conference for the year, in Accra on Friday, that at the end of November 2018, the debt stock was Gh₵172.9 billion, representing 57 .9 per cent of GDP.

This means that the country borrowed Gh₵42 billion within the one year period.

However, the governor indicated that  GDP growth outturn for the first three quarters of 2019 averaged 6.0 per cent with a percentage difference when compared to same time in 2018 whereas non-oil GDP growth of averagely 5.0 per cent against 5.9 per cent.

Coupled with 3.1 per cent  year-on-year  growth  recorded by  Composite Index of Economic Activity(CIEA), compared with 4.8 per cent same period in 2018, he said  economic growth  continued to be “robust and broad-based” although at a moderated pace relative to 2018.

According to Dr Addison, provisional budget estimates from January to December 2019 indicated that total revenue and grants amounted to GH¢52.97 billion (15.3 per cent of GDP) compared with the projected target of GH¢54.56 billion (15.8 per cent of GDP).

Total expenditures, including arrears clearance, he said was GH¢67.67 billion (19.6 per cent of GDP), below the target of GH¢70.19 billion (20.3 per cent of GDP).

“These developments resulted in an overall fiscal deficit (on a cash basis) of 4.8 per cent of GDP, slightly above the target of 4.7 per cent of GDP but below the 5.0 per cent fiscal rule,” he said.

According to Dr Addison, Gross International Reserves at the end of December 2019 was US$8.4 billion, providing cover for 4.0 months of imports of goods and services, saying, “The reserve level compares with a position of US$7.0 billion, equivalent to 3.6 months of import cover recorded at the end of December 2018.”

A year after the completion of the clean-up and recapitalisation exercise, he said performance of the banking sector has improved markedly, signifying positive dividends from the reform programme.

He said total assets of the banking sector  increased to GH¢129.06 billion at the end of December 2019, representing a 22.8 per cent year-on-year growth while the increased total assets was on account of significant growth of 22.2 per cent year-on-year in deposits to GH¢83.46 billion underscoring renewed confidence in the banking sector.

On suggestions that the BoG should print more money to pay depositors, he said it was not a prudent option due to inflation and currency disability implications adding that the BoG would find better means to do so,

For instance, he said the receivers had received about GH¢1.4 billion out of about GH¢16 billion and through efforts such as auctioning of properties.  

BY JONATHAN DONKOR

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