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Aid groups urge debt cancellation to ease Ghana’s economic woes

BY: aljazeera.com
Aid groups urge debt cancellation to ease Ghana’s economic woes

More than two dozen aid and campaign groups have called for international creditors to cancel a large portion of Ghana’s debts as it struggles to contend with an economic crisis.

Ghana’s consumer inflation rose to a record 54 percent year-on-year in December, driven by rising fuel, utility and food costs. International reserves have dwindled to less than two months of import cover.

“The people of Ghana have suffered extensively from the crisis,” the groups, which all have operations in Ghana, said in an open letter on Wednesday. “Wealthy private lenders must share in the costs of a crisis they helped to create and cancel the debt.”

Signatories of the letter, which included Oxfam, Christian Aid, Caritas Ghana, Debt Justice and ActionAid, said the key challenge was to get private lenders to agree to a significant debt cancellation.

The government asked to restructure its bilateral debt under the G20 common framework platform – launched in 2020 to help coordinate debt reprofiling and restructuring – this month after announcing it would default on most of its external debt at the end of last year.

Ghana is expected to miss a $41m interest payment due on a $1bn eurobond on Wednesday. The Ministry of Finance said in December that interest payments have risen to 70 percent to 100 percent of government revenue.

“Ghana’s lenders, particularly private lenders, lent at high-interest rates because of the supposed risk of lending to Ghana,” the aid groups’ letter said.

“Given that they lent seeking high returns, it is only right that following these economic shocks, private lenders willingly accept losses,” it argued.

Signatories of the letter – which included Oxfam, Christian Aid, Caritas Ghana, Debt Justice and ActionAid – said the key challenge was to get private lenders to agree to a significant debt cancellation.

“The G20 can help by making clear that Ghana will be politically and financially supported to remain in default on any creditor which does not accept the necessary debt restructuring,” they said.

Ghana launched a domestic debt swap plan at the start of December, days before clinching a staff-level agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a $3bn rescue package.

The IMF has said its board will approve the deal only if Ghana undergoes comprehensive debt restructuring.

The deadline to register for what has been called the domestic debt exchange has been extended three times as authorities struggle to entice bondholders to participate in the programme.