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Business News of Monday, 18 May 2020

Source: Class FM

GH¢236.1bn debt stock: Each Ghanaian owes GH¢7,800 – Ato Forson

A former Deputy Finance Minister, Cassiel Ato Forson, has said each Ghanaian owes GH¢7,836 if the country’s public debt of GH¢236.1 billion is shared among all 30 million citizens.

According to Mr Forson, data from the Bank of Ghana (BoG) reveals that Ghana’s debt increased from GH¢120.3 billion in December 2016 to GH¢236.1 billion by 31 March 2020.

“Despite his vociferous public debt politics in opposition, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has added some GH¢116 billion to our public debt in just three years and a few months,” the Member of Parliament for Ajumako Enyan Essiam constituency wrote in a statement posted on Facebook.

The lawmaker is further accusing the Bank of Ghana of conspiring with the government to deceive Ghanaians.

Sourcing the BoG’s summary of economic and financial data, he said the central bank is using December 2020 projected nominal GDP of GHS398,048 billion instead of the official projected nominal GDP of GHS385,251 billion which the government shared with the IMF in April 2020.

“In effect, the Bank of Ghana is deliberately using a higher Nominal GDP to create the false impression that the government's nominal debt as percentage of GDP is low. This is intellectual dishonesty and dangerous not only to Ghanaians but to the investor community. This is not only shameful but goes a long way to damage the otherwise reputable image of the BoG,” he stated.

He further accused the central bank of financing government operations without recourse to the laws of the country.

Below is Mr Forson’s full statement:

I have been looking at the Summary of Economic and Financial Data for May 2020 put out by the Bank of Ghana. It is intriguing to observe that Ghana's total debt stock as of March 2020 stood at GH¢236.1 billion. The data further reveals that Ghana’s debt increased from GH¢120.3 billion in December 2016 to GH¢236.1 billion by 31st March 2020. Despite his vociferous public debt politics in opposition, President Akufo-Addo has added some GH¢116 billion to our public debt in just 3 years and a few months.



Indeed, we have to #KickNanaOut

Analyzed closely, President Akufo-Addo's debt accumulation is almost akin to Ghana's entire public debt since independence. It is even more troubling to note that if the public debt is shared among all Ghanaians, each of us owe a whopping GH¢7,836.00.

There are other observations I must proceed to highlight:

First, it is wrong for the Bank of Ghana to express the actual public debt as at 31st March 2020 as a percentage of the projected GDP for end of the year, that is December 2020 which creates an obvious erroneous impression.

Secondly, BoG is using December 2020 projected nominal GDP of G¢H398,048 billion instead of the official projected nominal GDP of GH¢385,251 billion which the government shared with the IMF in April 2020.

In effect, the Bank of Ghana is deliberately using a higher Nominal GDP to create the false impression that government's nominal debt as percentage of GDP is low. This is intellectual dishonesty and dangerous not only to Ghanaians but to the investor community. This is not only shameful but goes a long way to damage the otherwise reputable image of the BoG.

Bank of Ghana should be reminded that it is not a political institution but an important technical and professional institution of State whose reputation is very crucial to Ghana's economic progress.

I therefore call on the BoG to as a matter of urgency come clean and rectify what is now an exposed plot to deceive Ghanaians and the investor community.

Thirdly, I wish to draw the attention of the Governor and the Minister of Finance to Section 30 of the Bank of Ghana Act, 2002 (Act 612) as amended by the Bank of Ghana (Amendment) Act, 2016 (Act 918) regarding the breach of the ceiling for central bank financing that has occurred.

The 2019 Domestic Revenue was GH¢51,988.01m and 5 per cent of this is about GH¢2,599.40m

Regrettably, the Bank of Ghana has already disbursed GH¢5.5bn to finance Government of Ghana's operations without recourse to the laws of Ghana.

In clear terms, the Bank of Ghana has printed GH¢5.5bn to finance GoG’s operations and is planning to print even more. This is a flagrant breach of the Bank of Ghana Act.

The Minority in Parliament, therefore, cautions the Governor of the Bank of Ghana, that there are consequences for his actions.

In any case, why has the Bank of Ghana become an extension of the Ministry of Finance? Instead of government aggressively embarking on fiscally austere measures such as pruning down the size of government by cutting down the number of government appointees to make savings, government is rather stampeding the resources of the Bank of Ghana at will.

It is time to end the financial recklessness and give way to prudent and credible management of the economy to avoid this #TotalFailure