The Government says it will incorporate part of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan support programme into the 2023 Budget Statement and Economic Policy.
The budget is expected to be read to Parliament on November 15, with a 10-day discussion presently ongoing between the Government and the IMF on the country’s debt sustainability pathway for the Fund’s support programme.
Indicating that the discussion was “advancing smoothly,” Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, the Finance Minister, said efforts had been made to accelerate the process so that part of the programme would be added to the 2023 annual budget.
“In line with the President’s dialogue with the IMF Managing Director, Kristalina Georgieva, negotiations will be fast-tracked to ensure that key aspects of the programme are reflected in the 2023 Annual Budget Statement in November 2022,” Mr Ofori-Atta said.
The Finance Minister said this at the fourth press briefing for the year on the Ghanaian economy in Accra on Wednesday.
He said: “The Government is committed to ensuring that a comprehensive package is negotiated with the aim of restoring and sustaining macroeconomic stability, ensuring durable and inclusive growth and promoting social protection.”
“I am extremely confident about where we will land on this journey. We as a country have survived a 142 per cent inflation, yellow-corn hysteria, mass exodus from our country and more recently, a successful exit from the 2015 Extended Credit Facility,” he noted.
The Finance Minister said in a few months to come, the robust policy approach response of the Government would help to “considerably ease the challenges with inflation and the exchange rate pressures.”
He, therefore, called on the citizenry, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), Academia to work together with the Government in its drive to restore confidence in the economy.
Mr Ofori-Atta said: “I remind each one that Ghana is the only place we have. Its progress and prosperity is our collective duty. We have overcome many challenges and risen to the occasion many times. This is another challenge, which we must overcome. This too shall pass if we remain united and purposeful.”
Dr. Cassiel Ato Baah Forson
Meanwhile, Dr Cassiel Ato Baah Forson, Ranking Member of Parliament’s Finance Committee, in a media discussion, monitored by the GNA on Thursday, asked the Government to pause incorporating the IMF programme in the budget.
“The IMF team would go back to Washington and obviously the Government would also have to move to Washington to continue the negotiation and probably come back to address them before the final decision, and that would not happen by November 15,” he said.
Dr Forson, therefore, urged the Government to engage further to have the backing of Ghanaians, saying: “Some decisions will be a bitter medicine we need to take and enjoy the gains later, but that would require a complete buy-in from the ordinary Ghanaian, CSOs, Academia and the political divide.”
The Bretton Wood institution (IMF) has promised to protect vulnerable and poor Ghanaians as the country looks for a support programme from the Fund amid the current economic challenges.
The Fund said it would focus on helping Ghana to improve its “fiscal balance in a sustainable way while protecting the vulnerable and poor… and design reforms to enhance growth, create jobs, and strengthen governance.”
“We reaffirm our commitment to support Ghana at this difficult time, consistent with the IMF’s policies,” Mr Carlo Sdralevich, who led the IMF team to Ghana for the first discussions in July, said.
Currently, the Government is finalising its medium-term post-COVID-19 economic programme to serve as the domestic blueprint to engage with the IMF.
The programme, which has a set of time-bound structural reforms and fiscal consolidation measures, is to place Ghana’s debt levels and fiscal accounts on a sustainable path.
It is anchored on seven pillars – debt sustainability, fiscal consolidation, strengthening monetary and exchange rate policies, building strong financial institutions, macro-critical structural reforms, maintaining peace and security, and economic growth and transformation.