$3bn IMF bailout puts govt in a fiscal straightjacket – IEA’s Kwakye

Dr John Kwakye is the Director of Research at the IEA

The Director of Research at the Institute of Economic Affairs () has said that there is very little space for the government to maneuver in the $ 3 billion programme that has been approved by the ().

In his view, the programme will make it difficult for the government to spend above its limit.

His comments come after the of State at the , Dr Mohammed Amin Adam assured that the government would spend within limits to ensure it does not go against the deficit conditionality of the IMF.

“The minister has already set up a implementation standing committee which I chair, and that is supposed to ensure that whatever we spend on is approved, and whatever we spend on goes through a very rigorous process of approval so that we can keep our spending within our budget”, the Minister told Joy News.

He said: “If we will have any spending beyond the budget that will increase our deficit levels then we may not be able to meet the IMF requirement of deficit”.

“We're supposed to record about 1.5% of primary balance and to be able to do that will require very significant fiscal discipline”, Dr Amin Adam pointed out.

He said the IMF's condition that undergoes a front-loaded fiscal adjustment of about 5.1 percentage points, is “huge”, and “demands discipline; it demands hard work”.

“And, so, we are sensitising every sector of government including SOEs, and this is the reason why they all now are brought under the GIFMIS including the statutory funds; they're all brought through the GIFMIS in order to give us visibility and also to ensure that we control the spending by every agent of government”.

Reacting to this in a tweet, Dr Kwakye said “The IMF programme puts the government in a fiscal straightjacket. It has limited room to maneuver.”

The Board of the Fund unanimously approved Ghana's bailout on Wednesday, May 17 at a meeting in Washington after Ghana secured the Club financing assurance on Friday, May 12.

The IMF Mission Chief for Ghana Stéphane Roudet also indicated that the $3 billion bailout would result in reforms in the energy and cocoa sectors.

He added that the programme would also result in reforms to encourage private sector investments and also build international reserves.

“There will be reforms in the energy and cocoa sectors,” he said during a joint Ghana -IMF press conference.

“It will be restoring macroeconomic stability, for higher and more inclusive growth. It has reforms that will make the more resilient and likely to withstand shock in the future,” he added.

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