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IMF and markets could sway Ghana election

By Patrick Smith
Posted on Wednesday, 31 August 2016 14:24

A team of IMF tax and debt experts has arrived in Accra with a most delicate mission — to pass judgment on the government’s economic management less than a hundred days before hard fought national elections on 7 December.

Their assessment will be factual, so no problem

The assessment of the IMF team led by Joël Toujas-Bernate will also affect whether Ghana floats another US$1 billion Eurobond before the elections and the pricing of that bond. International money markets will take their cue from the outcome of this week’s talks in Accra.

Joël Toujas-Bernate’s team will report back to IMF headquarters in Washington where the Executive Board is set to rule on Ghana’s performance in mid-September.

The government is confident that it was pass the IMF test following a statement from the Fund in May that Ghana’s performance was “broadly satisfactory” under its US$918 million aid deal with the fund.

Finance Minister Seth Terkper told The Africa Report in Accra that the IMF assessment was likely to be positive: “The outstanding issues are about data and prior actions [policies to be implemented in the next phase of the programme].”

Asked if he was uneasy about the IMF playing such a key role assessing government’s performance so close to an election, Terkper, who used to work for the IMF, said: “Their assessment will be factual, so no problem.”

The IMF used to be accused of provoking coup d’états by pushing governments to slash state spending and devalue currencies. Now it is accused, as it was in Mozambique last year, of turning a blind eye to government failures and helping to swing elections for ruling parties.

That puts a heavy responsibility on the IMF team, which says it will be checking the latest government figures on state spending, progress on fixing the chronically indebted state energy companies and compliance with an order to stop government borrowing from the central bank.

Opposition parties are increasingly critical of the IMF’s role, accusing the fund of bailing out President John Mahama’s National Democratic Congress government.

Officials from the opposition New Patriotic Party have asked the IMF to take their concerns about Ghana’s “unsustainable domestic and foreign debt” and “continuing grand corruption in state procurement of goods and services” into account in their report to Washington.

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