Ghana is expecting a significant financial boost of $1.15 billion from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank by late February. This influx of funds is expected to come as part of a broader debt restructuring agreement with bilateral creditors.
According to the Ghanaian government, this is positive news for Ghana, which has been facing economic challenges in recent years, including rising inflation and public debt. The additional funding is designed to help stabilize the economy, support growth, and provide much-needed resources for key social programs.
This new loan will have some potential implications for the Ghanaian economy. In the short-term, this loan will probably improve the macroeconomic stability of Ghana. The additional funding could help to reduce Ghana's budget deficit and support the cedi, the country's currency. This could lead to lower inflation and interest rates, which would benefit businesses and consumers alike. Moreover, the loan is expected to increase investments. Indeed, it is expected that the improved economic outlook could attract more foreign investment to Ghana, which could create jobs and boost economic growth in the short-term as well.
While the debt restructuring agreement will provide some relief, it is important for Ghana to ensure that its debt levels remain sustainable in the long term. This will require continued commitment to fiscal discipline and economic reforms. However, the Ghanaian national debt is currently unsustainable.
One key concern is the current debt-to-GDP ratio, which stands at around 105% as of October 2023. This exceeds the regional average for Sub-Saharan African countries and surpasses international thresholds generally considered sustainable. This high ratio means that a significant portion of the country's economic output is needed just to service the debt, leaving less resources for investment in essential areas like infrastructure, healthcare, and education.
One way to servicing the national debt of Ghana in order to reduce it is to generate tax revenue. The tax base is narrow, and informal sectors remain significant, making it difficult to collect taxes efficiently. Additionally, reliance on commodities like oil and cocoa makes the economy vulnerable to fluctuations in global prices, further hindering revenue stability.
The Ghanaian national debt is unsustainable because of the rising interest payments. With the increasing debt burden, interest payments represent a growing portion of government spending. As of 2023, nearly 70% of government revenue is earmarked for servicing debt, limiting resources for other critical expenses and development initiatives.
Lastly, Ghana's dependence on imported goods and a limited export base make its economy susceptible to external economic downturns. This raises concerns about the country's ability to meet its debt obligations during potential economic challenges.
Ghana has acknowledged the challenges associated with its debt and is seeking solutions. It has approached the IMF and World Bank for a $3 billion loan package alongside debt restructuring with bilateral creditors in the last year. Additionally, the government is implementing austerity measures and tax reforms to increase revenue and reduce spending. However, the success of these initiatives and the ultimate path towards a sustainable debt burden depend on effective implementation, sustained political commitment, and addressing underlying structural vulnerabilities.