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Spio-Garbrah cautions government against contracting more loans

BY: Musah Yahaya Jafaru
Mr Ekwow Spio-Garbrah
Mr Ekwow Spio-Garbrah

A flag-bearer aspirant of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Mr Ekwow Spio-Garbrah, has cautioned the government against its increasing appetite for loans from China and other countries.

He said such huge loans with long payment periods had strings attached that could jeopardise the future planning and development of the country.

Mr Spio-Garbrah told the Daily Graphic that the New Patriotic Party (NPP) came to power with a promise to reduce the country's borrowing.

Besides, he said, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo was selling the idea of Ghana beyond aid.

However, Mr Spio-Garbrah said, since coming to power on January 7, 2017, the NPP government had contracted more loans which had shot up the country's debt-to-gross domestic product (GDP) ratio to about 70 per cent.

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That trend, he said, defeated the promise made by the NPP and also rendered the 'Ghana beyond aid' mantra ineffective.

Mr Spio-Garbrah said the recent news to the effect that Ghana was going to contract a $50-billion century loan from China was a shocker to him, since the amount was too much for the country.

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He said Ghana did not have enough infrastructural projects to contain such a huge loan.

Therefore, he said, contracting such a loan would not be prudent, since it would send the country into perpetual bondage.

"Once you start borrowing, it has implications for inflation, budget deficit, among others," he said.

Concessionary loans

Mr Spio-Garbrah said there were a lot of concessionary loans and loans with interest below market rates that were on offer by the World Bank, the African Development Bank and international philanthropic organisations that the government could access.

For instance, he said, instead of the government's plan for the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund) to go of a loan, the GETFund could go to international philanthropic organisations for some concessionary facilities to support its projects.

He stressed that what was needed was innovation in the writing of the proposals for financial support.

"There are institutions that can help. The kind of loan that ties you down is serious and you have to be careful about it,” he said.

No infrastructure to show

Mr Spio-Garbrah said despite the huge borrowing by the government, there were no infrastructural projects to show for such facilities.

"You cannot pinpoint five projects that this government is undertaking," he said.

Mr Spio-Garbrah said during the Mahama administration, massive projects were undertaken with the loans contracted.