Ghana and the IMF
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The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has approved a three-year loan for Ghana under the Enhanced Structural Adjustment Facility (ESAF),1 equivalent to SDR 155 million (about US$209.4 million) to support the government’s economic reform program for 1999–2001. The loan will be disbursed in seven installments, the first equivalent to SDR 22.16 million (about US$29.9 million) and will be available immediately.
Ghana has made significant progress in reducing macroeconomic imbalances since 1997 while implementing structural reforms. In 1998, real GDP growth increased from 4.2 percent in 1997 to 4.6 percent despite the drought related energy crisis, and inflation fell to 16 percent from 21 percent at end-1997. Real interest rates dropped sharply, the overall budget deficit declined, and the external current account improved. The value-added tax was introduced at the end of 1998, and the separate governing boards of the tax agencies were replaced by a central revenue board. While progress was made on structural reforms, key measures in the energy and cocoa sectors were delayed.
Medium-Term Strategy and the 1999 Program
The main objectives of the 1999–2001 program are to consolidate the achievements already made in macroeconomic stability and accelerate the pace of structural reform. Real GDP growth is projected to increase to 6 percent. The government intends to bring inflation down to 5 percent or less, reduce the current account deficit, including grants, to 2.5 percent of GDP, and bring gross official reserves to the equivalent of three months of imports.
The objectives of the 1999 program are to obtain real GDP growth of 5.5 percent, end-of-period inflation of 9 percent, an external current account deficit, including grants, of about 2.5 percent of GDP, and gross official reserves equivalent to three months of imports. To achieve these objectives, domestic budget financing will be limited to about 2.8 percent of GDP and the primary domestic balance is expected to show a surplus of about 3.5 percent of GDP. Monetary growth in 1999 will support the inflation and balance of payments objectives.
Ghana intends to take significant steps to liberalize the cocoa and energy sectors, accelerate the divestiture of state enterprises, and strengthen the banking system. Public sector reforms will be carried out to limit the scope of government to core areas, in particular,agriculture, the social sectors, and basic infrastructure. The medium-term cocoa strategy aims to ensure that Ghana remains a leading cocoa producer in the next decade and raise incomes in the rural sector. Further trade liberalization will help increase the efficiency of the economy. As private sector activity is boosted by rising confidence and expanding business opportunities, such as in nontraditional exports, the share of private investment in GDP is expected to rise by more than 3 percentage points over 1999–2001.
Addressing Social Needs
Ghana’s economic program emphasizes education and health, since the government believes the levels of growth required to reduce poverty will be difficult to achieve without significant increases in labor productivity. Expenditure programs have been designed for education and health, and are being implemented with donor support. An important element is the development of a monitoring system to ensure that increased expenditures accomplish better results. Improvements in agriculture and rural development are crucial for reducing poverty in the rural sector. A national poverty-reduction plan for 1999–2001 is being prepared in collaboration with donors.
The Challenge Ahead
Strong macroeconomic performance will depend on further fiscal consolidation and public sector reforms. Limits on government borrowing, both domestically and externally, particularly on nonconcessional terms, will also be important to ensure that interest costs and government debt remain sustainable. While macroeconomic stability is an important element of the government’s medium-term program, the objective of making Ghana a middle-income country within one generation cannot be attained without decisive structural transformation. Implementation of reforms in the cocoa sector, strengthening of the financial sector, and divestiture of large enterprises are essential to the success of its economic program.
Ghana joined the IMF on September 20, 1957. Its quota2 is SDR 369.0 million (about US$498.6 million) and its outstanding use of IMF resources currently totals SDR 230.1 million (about US$310.9 million) at end-February 1999.
1 The ESAF is a concessional IMF facility for assisting eligible members that are undertaking economic reform programs to strengthen their balance of payments and improve their growth prospects. ESAF loans carry an interest rate of 0.5 percent a year and are repayable over 10 years with a 5 ½ year grace period.
2 A member’s quota in the IMF determines, in particular, the amount of its subscription, its voting weight, its access to IMF financing, and its share in the allocation of SDRs.
IMF EXTERNAL RELATIONS DEPARTMENT