IMF Completes 5th, 6th Reviews: Approves $191m ECF For Ghana

The Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) yesterday completed the fifth and sixth reviews of Ghana’s economic performance under the program supported by an Extended Credit Facility (ECF) arrangement.

Completion of the reviews enables the disbursement of about US$191 million, bringing total disbursements under the arrangement to about US$764.1 million.

A statement from the Fund said during the review, adjustments were made to the program to ensure that it remains on track and to enhance its prospects of success. In this context, the Executive Board also granted waivers, including for deviations in a few program targets.

Ghana’s three-year arrangement was approved on April 3, 2015 for about US$955.2 million or 180 percent of quota at the time of approval of the arrangement.

It aims to restore debt sustainability and macroeconomic stability in the country to foster a return to high growth and job creation, while protecting social spending .

Following the Executive Board’s discussion on Ghana, Mr. Tao Zhang, Acting Chair and Deputy Managing Director, said “Implementation of the ECF-supported program has significantly improved in 2017. Growth has rebounded, the fiscal deficit has declined, leading to a primary surplus for the first time in fifteen years, the external position has strengthened, generating a build-up of external buffers, and key steps have been taken to address fragilities in the financial sector. Reforms should continue to entrench these hard-won gains”

“ The authorities’ commitment to fiscal discipline and the expenditure restraint shown in 2017 to meet the end-year deficit target are commendable. The government should continue to implement its fiscal consolidation program, with the adjustment focused mainly on increased domestic revenue mobilization. The recent announcement to enact revenue measures in the context of the mid-year budget review in July is welcome. Such measures will be critical to ensure that Ghana’s fiscal policies can be sustained over time.

“Gains from fiscal consolidation and macroeconomic stability need to be underpinned by continued efforts to implement wide-ranging and ambitious reforms. The public financial management regulations recently submitted to Parliament should help strengthen budget formulation and execution. Stronger oversight over the management of public finances should continue to be pursued, also in line with recommendations from the audit of unpaid bills.

“As the debt burden remains elevated, continued prudence in debt management is essential to reduce the risks associated with market-based borrowing. It will be important as intended, to undertake liability management operations with part of the proceeds from the planned Eurobond to help mitigate foreign-exchange roll-over risk and smooth the debt maturity profile.

“Monetary policy should continue to be focused on achieving the inflation target. In this context, while the decision to extend and publish the memorandum of understanding on zero financing of the government by the Bank of Ghana is welcome, additional amendments to the Bank of Ghana Act would be a more robust way to eliminate the prospect of fiscal dominance.

“The authorities should continue addressing fragilities in the financial sector. Further actions to tackle the overhang in non-performing loans and more progress on regulatory reforms and in strengthening oversight and cleaning up the microfinance sector will help support credit to the private sector. The recent bank intervention should be followed up with decisive action to restore the bank’s solvency and financial viability.

“The Fund is looking forward to the successful completion of the ECF arrangement in the coming year and stands ready to continue to support Ghana in the future.”