Growth beats forecast — IMF: Fund to revise target upwards
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has given thumbs up to the country’s recovery, saying growth this year has proved more resilient than initially anticipated.
“Although all the challenges are not going to be solved overnight, and there is still a lot of work ahead, what makes us very optimistic is that these actions are already generating positive results,” the IMF Ghana Mission Chief, Stéphane Roudet, said.
He was speaking at a press briefing last Friday after the IMF successfully conducted its first review of how the country was performing to targets under the Extended Credit Facility (ECF) programme.
Mr Roudet said Ghana’s economy was beginning to see a turnaround characterised by declining inflation, relative currency stability, improvement of fiscal space and an improvement in gross international reserves.
He said the turnaround signalled that the macroeconomic stability was emerging again, saying, “Growth in 2023 has proven more resilient than we were initially anticipating”.
The ECF programme with the IMF forecasted year end growth of 1.5 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP).
The economy has been battling with severe challenges in the last two years, with inflation hitting a 22-year high of 54.1 per cent in December 2022 and an unsustainable public debt above 93 per cent of the country’s productivity, measured by GDP.
In July 2022, the government formally approached the IMF for a fund programme to support structural reforms and help the economic recovery of the country.
The key objectives of the extended credit facility programme are to, among others, restore fiscal sustainability, re-anchor inflation expectations by achieving low and stable inflation, strengthen the exchange rate regime, restore investor confidence and regain market access while unlocking other financing sources.
Four months after implementing the programme, it appears to be bearing fruit as GDP Growth has rebounded strongly, averaging 3.2 per cent in the first two quarters of the year.
Inflation has also dropped to 40.1 per cent, while the cedi’s depreciation has slowed from the beginning of the year to date, after depreciating cumulatively by about 23.5 per cent year-to-date compared to a cumulative depreciation of 37.6 per cent over the same period in 2022.
On the fiscal front, the primary balance on commitment basis for the first half of the year was a surplus of about GH¢2 billion compared to a target of a deficit of GH¢4 billion.
Gross International Reserves (GIR), which measures how the country could fund its import bill, also stood at $2.1 billion equivalent to one-month import cover, compared with $1.5 billion (0.6 month of import cover) recorded at the end of December 2022.
On the debt front, the government has concluded the domestic debt exchange programme (DDEP), which saw it swap old bonds valued at GH¢82 billion for 12 new ones at reduced coupon rates and longer tenors.
The exchange of dollar denominated local bonds of about $742 million also saw a participation ratio of 91.7 per cent; the exchange of cocoa bills worth GH¢7.7 billion also saw a participation ratio of 97.4 per cent, while the exchange of pension funds holdings of treasury bonds of about GH¢29.6 billion also saw a participation ratio of 95.3 per cent.
The government is also looking forward to signing a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the bilateral Official Creditor Committee (OCC) in the coming weeks to restructure debts of $5.4 billion.
The country is also seeking to reach an agreement with its external commercial creditors by end of the year to restructure debts of $14 billion, out of which $13 billion are in bonds.
Growth to be revised
Responding to questions from the media at last Friday’s government and IMF joint press conference in Accra, Mr Roudet said growth for the rest of the year was now expected to be stronger than what was projected under the fund programme.
“Growth for the first half was above three per cent and this gives you an idea of the difference between what is happening on the ground and what the assumptions of the programme were”.
“So yes, we will revise growth for this year but we will share the exact details later,” he stated.
Mr Roudet, however, cautioned that was not the end of the road as inflation currently at 40.1 per cent was still high, noting that the IMF wanted to see it drop further.
He said the economy was going in the right direction, with things improving but there was still more work to be done.
Signs of resilience
For his part, the Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, confirmed that the economy was beginning to show signs of resilience, adding that the government would continue to work towards the growth.
He said the progress that the government sought to achieve was very much on course.
“The stability that the Ghanaian economy was very much in need of has been achieved”, he said.
“We said we have ‘turned the corner’ and the major economic indicators such as inflation and exchange rate continue to drop and stabilise, and there is confidence returning in the economy,” Mr Ofori-Atta stated.