The Bank of Ghana has said it could not confirm whether or not Ghana paid for the first consignment oil under the Gold-for-Oil programme with cash.
This comes on the back of revelations by a Deputy Minister of Energy, Andrew Egyapa Mercer, that Ghana paid for the 40,000 metric tonnes of the commodity which arrived in the country a few weeks ago with cash.
Under the programme, Ghana is to barter trade its gold for oil with the United Arab Emirates’ National Oil Company.
“Starting October (2022), all our oil-product needs would be swapped for gold,” Dr Kabiru Mahama, Economic Adviser to Vice President Mahamudu Bawumia, had earlier told Bloomberg.
Speaking at the 74th annual New Year School of the University of Ghana on Tuesday, January 17, Dr Bawumia further expatiated on the policy that would see the Bank of Ghana purchase the gold from local mining firms for the execution of the policy.
“The cost of oil import is about $ 3 billion a year. So we ask the simple question, why don’t we, since we have always got pressure in finding US dollars to buy oil, rather reach an agreement to change our gold for oil and then, sell the oil in cedis and then, use the cedis to buy more gold, use that gold to pay for oil, sell the oil in cedis and then you don’t need to look for the scarce foreign exchange to buy oil, which always leads to depreciation on the currency,” Dr Bawumia stated.
But speaking on Accra based Citi FM on Thursday; Mr Mercer said Ghana paid for the first consignment under the programme with cash.
“We developed the policy such that we were operating two streams, one was direct barter and the second was monetising the gold, so we can pay for IOTs that were not other commodity focused but solely petroleum products…so the test run that we did was actually paid through the second route,” Egyapa Mercer, MP, Sekondi said.
Answering questions before the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament, however, in Accra yesterday, the first Deputy Governor of the Bank of Ghana, Dr Maxwell Opoku-Afari, said his outfit was more involved in the purchase of gold.
“I do not have the full details of that leg of the transaction. What I know is that the gold for oil deal has two legs; the gold purchase leg and the oil leg.
“The Bank of Ghana is fully involved on the gold purchase side which then translates into oil. I may have to go and check how the oil side was transacted.
“What we know is that we have fully paid and bought gold that is enough to support the oil transaction,” Dr Opoku-Afari stated.
On how many tonnes of gold was swapped or sold for the commodity and at what price, Dr Opoku-Afari could not confirm but assured to provide the details later.
“The gold purchase by the Bank of Ghana is not new. We introduced the gold purchase programme as part of building our reserves and we are using a component of that programme to support the gold for oil. The metric tonnes of gold purchased by the bank, I can share the details with the Committee later.
“What I can confirm is that the gold is being purchased in cedis. It is a conversion of our domestic asset into foreign asset and purchased at the world market price. We use the Reuters and Bloomberg market price to purchase the gold,” he said.
BY JULIUS YAO PETETSI