Key Questions on Ghana

Last Updated: July 13, 2022

Read the key questions regarding Ghana and the IMF

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Has Ghana requested IMF for support for an economic program?

On July 1, 2022, Ghana started discussions with the IMF to support a homegrown economic program through a Fund arrangement. The IMF stands ready to assist Ghana to restore macroeconomic stability; anchor debt sustainability; promote inclusive and sustainable growth; and address the impact of the war in Ukraine and the lingering Covid-19 pandemic.

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Can the IMF confirm reports that Ghana is seeking a three-year Extended Credit Facility program of about $3 billion?

The Extended Credit Facility (ECF) for low-income countries is the Fund’s main tool for medium-term support to countries facing protracted balance of payments problems, similar to Ghana’s. The duration of such arrangement is between 3 to 4 years and extendable to 5 years. Ghana requested a similar arrangement in 2014 and which lasted 4 years. However, the level of access and the final program design is ultimately decided by the IMF Executive Board. Since negotiations for the program are starting now, it’s is too early to comment on the final form the program will take.

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What was the conclusion of the first mission? And what are the next steps and possible timing for an IMF program?

An IMF team visited Accra from July 6 – 13 to begin initial discussions with the Ghanaian authorities about a possible IMF-supported program.

Even though we are still at an early stage in the process, the mission was constructive and kick-started the process, laying the ground for our continued engagement.

 

IMF staff will continue to monitor the economic and social situation very closely and engage with the authorities to formulate a homegrown reform plan that could be supported by an IMF arrangement and validated through a broader stakeholders’ consultation.

 

To this end, the Fund and MOF and BOG teams will continue their work virtually in the coming weeks, while IMF experts will travel to Accra to provide technical assistance, including in tax policy and administration, and public financial management.

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Why is Ghana requesting an IMF program?

Ghana’s fiscal and debt vulnerabilities are worsening fast amid an increasingly difficult external environment. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Ghana’s public debt increased from 65 percent to 80 percent of GDP. At the same time, the government’s fiscal efforts to preserve debt sustainability were not seen as sufficient by investors, leading to credit rating downgrades, non-resident investors exit from domestic bond market and loss of access to international capital markets. These adverse developments, further exacerbated by the price and supply-chain shocks from the war in Ukraine, have led to a large exchange rate depreciation, a surge in inflation (29.8 percent year-on-year inflation in June) and pressure on foreign exchange reserves in the past months. In this context, the government has requested assistance from the IMF, and we have kick-started the initial discussions on how to best address Ghana’s challenges.

 

An IMF-supported program aims to provide space for Ghana to implement policies which will restore macroeconomics stability and anchor debt sustainability while protecting the most vulnerable parts of the population. It should help create the conditions for inclusive and sustainable growth and job creation. This will help strengthen policy credibility, alleviate exchange rate pressures, and provide catalytic effect on financing.

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What type of program is Ghana eligible for?

The IMF’s various lending instruments are tailored to different types of balance of payments need as well as the specific circumstances of a member country. See the IMF Lending webpage for different types of BOP need and the available instruments.

 

We are discussing with the ministry of finance and the central bank about the type of facility that would best fit Ghana’s needs.

 

By way of background, the previous arrangement in Ghana was a three-year ECF in 2015-2018, which was extended by a year to April 2019.

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Is a program the result of the spillover from the war in Ukraine?

The war in Ukraine has triggered a global economic shock that is hitting Ghana at a time when the government’s room for maneuver is already greatly limited. The shock compounds other pressing policy challenges, including debt vulnerabilities, the COVID-19 pandemic’s social and economic legacy, and the ongoing tightening of global monetary policy conditions which increases the cost of international borrowing.

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What will be the objectives of an IMF program with Ghana?

The goal of the government’s home-grown program, which would be supported by IMF financing, is to restore macroeconomic stability and anchor debt sustainability, support the credibility of government policies, restore confidence in the central bank’s ability to manage inflation and accumulate foreign exchange reserves to help the currency withstand headwinds. Specifically on the fiscal sector, an important policy objective would be to increase revenues, critical for debt sustainability while safeguarding spending on health, education, and social protection.

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Is the request for a program coming too late, given concerns about Ghana’s economy and debt situation over the last two years?

The economic situation is certainly challenging but there is still scope for the government to take the right steps towards restoring macroeconomic stability and preventing a deeper crisis.

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Will the program result in cut in the free senior high school program, or other flagship social programs and infrastructure projects?

We are still at an early stage in the discussions, but we believe that the free Senior High School (SHS) is an innovative policy that needs to be protected. In general, IMF-supported programs seek to boost social spending while encouraging both efficiency and sustainability.

 

As discussed above, the IMF-supported program would aim at protecting the vulnerable and creating conditions for an inclusive growth.