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Opinions of Monday, 11 May 2020

Columnist: John Jinapor

IMF data discrepancies: Ken Ofori-Atta scores own goal - John Jinapor

One of the most famous sayings attributed to Abraham Lincoln is about deception: "You can fool all the people some of the time and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time". It is obvious that the Minister of Finance and his government think they can fool all Ghanaians all the time, which is why they are engaged in this grand deception each time they get the opportunity.

In the Rejoinder issued by the Ministry of Finance, it is obvious the Finance Minister admits there are discrepancies between their figures contained in the Budget Statement and that of the IMF.

For the avoidance of doubt, I have reproduced relevant portions from the Ministry's statement confirming that there are indeed "Differences" between the two sets of figures.

The statement amongst other states that;

"It is important to note that the reasons for these differences have been duly acknowledged by the IMF in the footnotes under each table in the IMF Staff Report on the Rapid Credit Facility (IMF Country Report No.20/110) from which the Media Foundation drew their claims"

"It is worthy of note that, just as Ghana did in our full year reports, the IMF in their Ghana Country Report (No.20/110), from which the Media Foundation quoted, both the “Overall balance” and “Overall balance excluding financial and energy sector related costs” have been reported. It is disingenuous for anybody to pick different variables for comparison. The Media Foundation should not do that"

The question is, why would the Ministry of Finance report the actual overall balance (Fiscal Deficit) for the 2018 and 2019 fiscal years (which are above 7%) to the IMF but choose to hide same from the Budget as presented to Ghanaians through the Parliament of Ghana?

Why under-report the Total deficits to Ghanaian but report the actual full year figures to the IMF? What's the motive behind such deception?

"On Gross International Reserves, differences could emanate from the treatment of petroleum funds (Ghana Stabilization Funds & Ghana Heritage Funds) in Gross International Reserves; whilst the IMF data excludes petroleum funds, the Bank of Ghana data includes petroleum funds"

From the above, the ministry acknowledges there are differences between what is contained in the Budget Statement as compared to what was published by the IMF using Ghana’s own data.

How can one country (Ghana) have different Gross and Net Reserve figures? This is strange, unusual and unacceptable.

For the records, no country is allowed to have different figures for a particular line item.

"With respect to the Current Account Balance and the Gross International Reserves, the data published by the Bank of Ghana (Summary of Economic and Financial Data) and the IMF (IMF Country Report No.20/110) are as follows:"

"The data shows practically no discrepancy between the BoG and IMF on current account balance for 2018 and 2019".

What is the meaning of "no Significant Difference"? The question is simple: are there differences between the IMF and Government of Ghana figures?

The answer is a big yes!! The Minister must desist from the use if semantics to deceive us.

Obviously, the Minister of Finance, Mr. Ken Ofori-Atta, under-reported the figures to Parliament but obviously could not do same with the IMF, because there is a world standard of reporting and that ought to be adhered both home and Internationally.

With this grand deception, the current Managers of the Economy under Dr. Bawumiah cannot be trusted. The Akufo-Addo led Government must apologize to the people of Ghana for this grand deception or face the wrath of the Citizenry.

Thank you.

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