Journalists unhappy with Ghana debt management schemes
They also said successive governments have failed to cut down public expenditure, conduct proper monitoring and evaluation on projects to eliminate procurement breaches and dealt with government officials found culpable of financial abuses.
The journalists expressed these sentiments at a media town hall meeting organized by the Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP) on the need for a debt sustainability plan to save the country the growing debt of over GH¢575 billion.
Mr. Akwasi Anim, Citi News correspondent queried why successive governments continue to organize huge ceremonies even on sod cutting for roads and other projects, asking “can’t these projects be awarded and inaugurated without the flamboyance associated with them?”.
Though the participants agreed that government needed such bonds and loans for development, they also argued that the debt level should be tolerable hinging on sound economic policies, need for other revenues potentials and proper management of the debts are save for the future of the country.
Awo Efua Assifuah a journalist, also encouraged leadership; the government and state institutions to be more disciplined and committed to judiciously use of state resources for the betterment of the country.
Mr. Clement Boye, of Ghanaian Times Newspaper intimated the need for successive governments to be committed in paying the accrued debts rather than only servicing the interest and allowing the capital to swell.
He called for strong monitoring systems, transparency and strict enforcement of the laws of the country to serve as deterrent to other unpatriotic citizens.
Dr. Charles Gyamfi Ofori, Policy Lead at the African Centre for Energy Policy, who led the discussions noted how critical it had become to address the governance inefficiencies as well as other drivers of public debt.
ACEP, he said, conducted a study that identified and analyzed the primary drivers of Ghana’s debt and proposed long-term solutions aimed at preventing a repetitive cycle of relying on IMF assistance.
He said the engagement sought to increase media, and by extension, public, understanding of the primary causes of Ghana’s current debt and the required fiscal measures necessary to engender long-term debt sustainability.
Dr. Ofori said over the years, Ghana had had to borrow for various purposes such as project finance, budgetary support, or facilitating lending to State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) and the private sector.
He said, in recent years, Ghana had witnessed a steady rise in its public debt adding, “As of November 2022, the total public debt of Ghana stood at GH¢575 billion, comprising GH¢382.7 billion in external debt and GH¢193.1 billion in domestic debt.
The increasing public debt has resulted in substantial interest payments, which have consumed a significant portion of Ghana’s domestic revenues.
By September 2022, interest payments constituted around 49 per cent of the total domestic revenue, marking a rise from 34 per cent in 2017.
This, combined with employee compensation which accounted for 94 percent of the revenue posed challenges for the country in financing development projects or repaying its debt.
“This is why expected demand-side accountability is expected to enforce fiscal prudence in the management of the IMF funds,” the Policy Lead added.