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Business News of Monday, 16 September 2019


External debt stock is $20.671bn, gov’t not borrowing recklessly – Gabby

Gabby Asare Otchere-Darko, Legal practitioner Gabby Asare Otchere-Darko, Legal practitioner

Ghana’s external debt stock per 2018 records stands at $20.671bn, Gabby Asare Otchere-Darko, a leading member of the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP), has said.

According to him, records on Ghana’s debt stock starting from 2014 to 2018 show that the Akufo-Addo administration isn’t borrowing recklessly.

In a Facebook post, he said : “Ghana’s external debt stock: 2014 – $18.370bn; 2015 – $20.633bn; 2016 – $21.372; 2017 – $21.369bn; 2018 – $20.671bn. Expected to move up in 2019. It tells you NPP isn’t borrowing by heart.”

It is recalled that the Minority in Parliament criticized the Akufo-Addo led administration for excessive borrowing which they claimed has bloated the national debt.

According to them, the latest report of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the Bank of Ghana places the current national debt at almost GH200 billion as at the end of the first quarter of 2019.

Mr Cassiel Ato Forson, Ranking Member on Finance, speaking at a press conference stated that, despite this insatiable appetite for borrowing, President Akufo-Addo’s government does not have any significant capital investments to show unlike his predecessor, former President John Mahama, who invested borrowed funds in major capital projects across all sectors of the economy, from education, health, housing, roads, energy, communications, aviation and transport, among others.

Mr Forson also said the GH200 billion national debt represents an increase of about GH80 billion in the last two and half years alone, raising the debt to GDP ratio from 56 per cent in 2016 to almost 58 percent.

“We drew attention to the change since 2016 for three reasons related to the Mahama era. First, there was the promise not to borrow. Second, the NPP has benefited from a 25 per cent bonus or increase in GDP, due to the rebasing exercise. Third, the NPP inherited two additional oil fields (Sankofa and TEN) that has almost tripled output and at an average 60 per cent price increase” he added.

According to Mr Forson at the current exchange rate levels, borrowing alone has given President Akufo-Addo government a staggering $16 billion over the period, which excludes GH5.7 billion borrowed under the ESLA Bonds last year.

Mr Forson also noted that the current NPP administration has benefited more in terms of oil revenues received than any other government.

He said the total oil revenues received between 2017 and 2018 and those expected to be received in 2019 currently stands at GH 12, 328, 703, 024.81.

He said President Akufo-Addo’s government has had more money at their disposal than all other governments and should have done far more than is being done presently.

Mr Forson further stated that the current spate of borrowing threatens to erode the fiscal space provided by the rebasing of the economy started in 2016 and which was concluded in September 2018.

According to him it is obvious that the President views rebasing as an opportunity to engage in unbridled borrowing aimed at consumption related expenditure.

He said President Akufo-Addo in spite of all the resources available to him has not been able to fulfill most his campaign promises to the people.