GROWTH CUT SIGNIFICANTLY IN PUBLIC DEBT

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The growth of Ghana’s public debt stock has
been slashed by a chunk, Finance Minister Seth
Terkper has said.
“Public Debt stood at GH¢ 93,064.8 million as
of November 2015 mainly as a result of
exchange depreciation,” Mr. Terkper told
journalists at a press conference.
He said the reduction in the growth of the
debt stock could be put down to new debt
management strategies implemented with
regards to onlending/escrow, sinking fund,
refinancing, etc., as well as maturity
lengthening.
“Growth in public debt reduced significantly,”
he told journalists, adding that Public Debt to
GDP Ratio tapered in 2015.
He said there was a decline in public debt
stock between 2000 and 2006 due to HIPC/
MDRI reliefs.
The debt stock has always been a topic of
heated political argument. The current total
debt stock increased by GHS5 billion between
May and June 2015. As of September last year,
figures from the Bank of Ghana’s economic
and financial data showed the total debt stock
stood at GHS94.5 billion, representing 70.9%
of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
After its first review of Ghana’s implementation
of a three-year bailout programme, the
International Monetary Fund (IMF) said the
country’s performance under the Extended
Credit Facility programme exceeded pre-HIPC
levels.
Per the trend of the growing debt stock, the
Bretton Woods institution projected that
Ghana will end 2015 with a 75% debt-to-GDP
ratio.
Ghana’s total public debt in the first-half of
2015 increased consistently by about GHS15.1
billion, growing from GHS79.4 billion in
January, to GHS94.5 billion in June.
Late last year, the flagbearer of the main
opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), Nana
Akufo-Addo, said Ghana’s total debt stock will
hit GHS110 billion by the time President John
Mahama leaves office, a situation he believes
amounts to mortgaging the country’s future.
“The indebtedness of Ghana has gone from
GHS9.5 billion in a space of six years; a growth
of over a 1,000 percent.
“At the rate that it’s going, it’s going to be
close to GHS110 billion by the time Mahama
leaves office,” Mr. Akufo-Addo told an
audience in Canada.
He said: “The future of our nation is being
mortgaged and compromised, and that is why
it is vital that next year, we put a stop to it
and bring sanity to the administration of our
country.”
In September last year, he said Ghana’s total
debt stock will more than triple by 2020 if
President John Mahama’s mandate were
renewed at the polls in 2016.
“In 2009, when they [NDC] came into office,
Ghana’s debt was GhS9.5 billion; this was
Ghana’s debt from Nkrumah’s time to when
Kufuor left office.
“Four years later, by 2012 ending, it had gone
up more than three times to GhS33.5billion.
“The NDC got a second term in office, in 2012.
We are not even at the end of 2015, but
Ghana’s debt has shot up another three times
to GHS95 billion!” the three-time presidential
candidate observed.
Using that trend to compute his prediction, the
former Abuakwa South Member of Parliament
told party supporters at Shama, on the final
day of his ‘Rise and Build’ tour of the Western
Region on Thursday, September 24, that
Ghana’s debt stock will hit GHS300 billion if
the Mahama administration is given another
four-year term.
“What is the future of our youth? What future
can they have with these statistics? That is why
we have a huge responsibility to reverse the
trend of our future and bring Ghana back onto
the path of progress and prosperity,” he said.
President Mahama said late last year in the
Volta region that his government’s borrowing
accounted for only 17 percent of Ghana’s total
external debt stock. According to his
calculation, the Kufuor administration’s
borrowing accounted for 41 percent of the
total $14 billion external debt with which
Ghana is currently saddled.
“…Recently you’d have heard that this
government has borrowed so much money it
has put Ghana in debt. Government is a
continuum, and, so, governments leave debt
behind and other governments inherit them
and pay them off, but they also borrow in
order to be able to do infrastructural projects.
So, it’s a rolling thing.
“…Now let me do a little analysis here. Our
external debt amounts to $14 billion. If you
disaggregate the debt and you apportion it by
the different governments, then from 1980 –
that is part of Limann’s government through
Rawlings’ government from 1980 up to the
year 2000 – that is the NDC one…that period
is responsible for nine per cent of the debt.
“…Then if you take that same debt, and you
break it down, 41 percent of that debt is
attributable to the time between 2001 and
2008…now from Prof’s [John Mills’] time to my
time, if you take Prof’s time, it’s 33 percent of
the debt and [from] 2013 to 2015 is 17
percent of the debt…so from Prof’s time to my
time accounts for 50 percent of the debt. The
other 50 percent is debt that we have inherited
and that we are paying, and 41 percent of that
debt was borrowed by the NPP administration.
So, when you come and say NDC government
has borrowed $14 billion, 41 percent of the $
14 billion was borrowed by the NPP
administration.
“And, so, normally when they throw these
figures out, if you don’t analyse the figures,
they just throw them out in a Goebellian
fashion to confuse the electorate and just put
blame on some government, but we’ve taken
that debt. We are paying it. We’re servicing it
because I know that it was used for
development,” Mr. Mahama explained to a
crowd of NDC supporters to wrap up his
‘Changing Lives, Transforming Ghana’ tour.
Mr. Mahama’s analysis of the debt situation
was a response to former deputy governor of
the Bank of Ghana, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia,
who had earlier said the rate of borrowing by
the government will leave the country with a
debt close to GHS100 billion by the end of
2015.
“We’ll reach GHS99 billion by the end of this
year,” Nana Akufo-Addo’s running mate told
journalists after Finance Minister Seth Terkper
read the 2016 budget to Parliament.
“The interest on this debt alone is going to be
six times Ghana’s oil revenue,” Dr. Bawumia
said.
“When we found oil, we were happy that we
found oil, but the borrowing of this
government has compromised the whole oil
discovery; you need six times our oil revenue
just to pay interest on the debt, not even
capital, so, it is a really sad development,” he
complained.
Per his computation, the amount of money
borrowed by the Government so far is
“equivalent to over $37 billion over seven
years. Can you imagine what $37 billion can do
for this economy?” he asked.

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