Cassiel Forson, John Kumah in war of words over $750m Afreximbank loan

BY: Kweku Zurek

A Deputy Minister of Finance, Dr John Ampontuah Kumah has assured that the government on Monday (August 29, 2022), received the full loan amount of $750 million from the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) but $37 million from the facility was set aside for debt service obligations.

His comments come after the ranking member on the Finance Committee in Parliament, Cassiel Ato Forson in a tweet asked for an explanation about the $37million on Twitter.

Mr Forson tweeted: "Can someone at the ministry of finance & the Bank of Ghana explain why only $713m out of the approved $750m hit GOG's Bank account? Where is the remaining $37m? For the avoidance of doubt, Parliament did not approve upfront fees amounting to $37m".

Responding to the query in a Facebook post, M Kumah said the Ministry of Finance as part of the transaction has created an Escrow Account for debt service for the facility.

“This arrangement is not new as the Ministry of Finance has from time to time created specialized Escrow accounts for specific purposes. In this particular transaction, an amount of USD37 million from the facility has been set aside for debt service obligations. All the documentation relating to this arrangement were supplied to and was approved by Parliament,” he stated.

He added that the government was grateful to Afrexim and assured "all Ghanaians that the funds will be applied especially to the specific infrastructure projects approved by Parliament".

However, the exchange did not end there with Mr Forson replying that per the loan approved by Parliament, "No where in the agreement is the GOG obligated to set up an escrow account and to pay $37m for the purpose of debt service that will be starting in 3yrs time".

He also added that the projects that the loan would be spent on amounted to $750m and not $713m.

In response, Mr Kumah said he was surprised that Mr Forson thought "liabilty of government under this facility only kicks in after 3-years".

The Minister added that during the term of the National Democratic Congress, "escrow debt service accounts were established for many projects including; a) the CDB Facility for Ghana Gas, b) Kumasi Market Phase 1 and c), the Kasoa Interchange Project".

Read the exchange below;