by Cooper Invin
ACCRA (Reuters) – Ghana’s Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Ata said on Wednesday that Ghana’s negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on a rescue package would be accelerated.
Ghana began talks with the IMF on Monday over a lending program backed by the International Monetary Fund in a bid to ease economic hardship that has sparked street protests.
“Negotiations will be accelerated to ensure that key aspects of the program are reflected in the annual budget statement for 2023 in November 2022,” Ofori-Ata said at a press briefing.
An IMF team of experts is discussing policies and reforms with officials in Ghana after the West African country requested an IMF loan in July.
The IMF mission is scheduled to run until October 7, and will include a full assessment of the sustainability of Ghana’s debt burden. If this debt is deemed unsustainable, the fund will not be able to provide the support without some kind of restructuring.
Reports that the government may consider a plan to restructure its local currency debt gained steam last week, prompting credit rating agency Fitch to downgrade Ghana’s rating to ‘CC’ from ‘CCC’.
A senior Fitch director said a domestic debt restructuring would be “extremely unusual” and warned that it could spell disaster for local financial institutions. A brief from Oxford Economics on Monday said it would risk pushing Ghana into recession.
Ofori Atta said, on Wednesday, that the government has not reached any agreement with the fund on the criteria for debt operations, but that a committee will be formed in the coming days to involve stakeholders in the financial sector on how to move forward.
“We welcome all contributions to this great public debate, but we must be keen to build, not tear down our nation,” he said.