Ken Ofori-Atta, the Minister for Finance, says returning to the International Money Fund would not augur well for Ghana.
Speaking at the government’s town-hall meeting to discuss the E-Levy on Thursday (27 January 2022), the minister said the passage of the E-Levy will save the country from falling back on the IMF for financial assistance, which, he said, would be disastrous.
“When we were in the IMF programme, we couldn’t pay for nurses and teachers,” he said; “we couldn’t hire any more because there were restrictions on that. I mean, it’s just really thinking you can go back to Egypt.
“In a way, we have forgotten how difficult and tenacious that master from Washington was.
“So, we can deal with them for them to give us advice but we need not ever get into an IMF programme [again]. If we don’t do this E-Levy, we’re just pushing ourselves in a way that would potentially end up in such a disaster,” he said.
Push to seek IMF finance
Dr Adu Owusu Sarkodie, a senior lecturer in the Department of Economics at the University of Ghana, has suggested that the government’s best course of action would be to return to the International Monetary Fund for financial support.
However, Dr Sarkodie said the decision whether or not to fall back on the IMF will depend, among other things, on the government’s ability or otherwise to borrow from multilateral institutions, pass the E-Levy Bill and reverse the new benchmark value and road toll policies.
His comments come after the international ratings agency Fitch downgraded Ghana’s long-term foreign-currency issuer default rating to B- from B with a negative outlook.
IMF a thing of the past?
Last year, the Minister for Finance said the government is determined not to return to the International Monetary Fund for any sort of bailout.
There have been reports that Ghana is in the process of negotiating with the IMF for support to address the current pressures on revenue, rising debt stock and a “troubling budget deficit”.
But, speaking to Asaase News, Ofori-Atta said that the government has no plans to resort to the IMF. According to him, seeking help from the Fund will defeat the government’s efforts to develop the country “beyond aid”.
“We have to confront the fact that we can be masters of our own destiny and why do I need the IMF to tell me what to do?
“We came out of the IMF quickly when we came into power in 2017.
“They [the IMF] remain trusted advisors, but whether that instrument of being under the IMF is the only way for a country to grow – I beg to differ. I’m not sure that that’s the path [to] emancipating one’s economy.”