IMF: Ghana’s “Obaatanpa” CARES programme has potential to transform economy

The government says the GHC100 billion post-COVID programme will stabilise, revitalise and transform Ghana’s economy and to create jobs and prosperity for Ghanaians over three years.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) says the government’s Ghana CARES “Obaatanpa” programme has the potential to transform the country’s economy.

“Policy interventions in 2020 were also critical to safeguard livelihoods and paved the way for a faster rebound of economic activity. Real GDP growth is projected at 4.8% in 2021, driven by a rebound in mining and services. Inflation is expected to remain around the central bank’s target of 8% by end-2021.

“The CARES programme has the potential to be transformative and inclusive for the Ghanaian economy, buttressed by its emphasis on SMEs and digitalisation as well as leveraging the AfCFTA,” an IMF mission led by Carlo Sdralevich which held consultations under Article IV from 28 April to 12 May 2021 through virtual meetings said in a statement.

“Government interventions in 2020 also exacerbated pre-existing fiscal rigidities and public debt vulnerabilities. The government deficit, including energy and financial sector costs, reached 15.5% of GDP, while annual gross financing needs exceeded 20% of GDP. Public debt rose to 78% of GDP in 2020, from 64.4% in 2019, including ESLA of GHC7.63 billion in 2020,” the statement said.

The team also concluded that “The 2021 budget’s recent policy pivot towards fiscal consolidation is an important step in the right direction and a difficult one in a pandemic. Fiscal consolidation should be deepened and anchored around debt and debt service reduction to create space for social, health, and development spending.

Fiscal consolidation

According to the team, “Given the social and equity implications, fiscal consolidation should rely more on progressive revenue and spending measures, while guaranteeing fiscal support to the most vulnerable and social safety nets.

“Despite progress in rationalising power generation, the financial viability of the energy sector affects people’s daily life and will remain a drag on productivity and a driver of public debt if not addressed decisively. Improving efficiency and collections remains a priority to achieve substantial savings.”

The team said the planned audits of COVID-19 emergency spending and of arrears accumulated in 2020—in addition to routine budgetary reporting practices “are welcome as they will help account for the increase of spending and its effectiveness, and provide lessons to improve the robustness of public financial management systems.”

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