General News of Wednesday, 25 February 2015
Source: Graphic Online
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has expressed optimism about finalising discussions with Ghana for an economic programme ahead of schedule.
Officials of the Bretton Woods Institution arrived in the country a week ago to conclude discussions with the government on providing financial and technical support to Ghana in view of the economic challenges facing the country.
According to sources at the Flagstaff House, the participants in the talks had expressed optimism that given the smooth negotiations, the two sides were on course to agreeing on a programme ahead of the scheduled date of April this year.
The Director of Communications of the IMF, Mr Gerry Rice, answering questions at a news conference in Washington last week, was quoted as saying: “We expect to be finalising the details of the programme at the end of this mission.”
The Deputy Managing Director of the IMF, Min Zhu, had earlier in a statement said “the fund stands ready to help Ghana address the current economic challenges it is facing”.
A former Finance Minister, Professor Kwesi Botchwey, in October, last year led Ghana’s team to the negotiation table with the IMF Board in Washington to decide on the programme for the country.
The meeting spelt out, among other things, how the disbursement of funds would be done, on condition that the programme came along with a financial package.
The conditions, known as ‘ground data’, according to the sources, would include the country’s revenue and expenditure figures, as well as the growth rate.
President Mahama’s directive
In early 2014, President John Mahama directed that immediate steps be taken to engage the IMF and other development partners to help the country out of the current economic challenges.
Government functionaries had explained that the discussions with the IMF were not being held because of the government’s failure to manage the economy but rather the need for the country to restore economic stability and growth in order to gain policy credibility and confidence from international financial institutions, capital markets and investors for the measures being implemented.
The decision to seek an IMF programme was greeted with mixed reactions by the public, including the Minority in Parliament, who blamed the current state of the economy on gross mismanagement.
Industry stakeholders expressed the belief that an IMF ‘bailout’ would further burden Ghanaians with economic hardships, since stringent measures would have to be instituted to salvage the economy.