ACCRA, Ghana -- Ghanian officials said Thursday that the $3 billion International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailout approved for the West African nation would help “reset the economy” and ease the economic hardship on millions of citizens.
Though “far from a magic solution wand,” the credit facility approved by the IMF to aid the nation's economic growth recovery plan is “a crucial first step on the journey of strong reforms (and) inclusive growth,” Ken Ofori-Atta, Ghana’s minister of finance, told an online briefing.
One of West Africa’s regional hubs, Ghana has been reeling from an economic crisis as a result of soaring inflation, a weakened currency and rising public debt that is gulping most of its dwindling revenue.
While authorities hope the IMF bailout to be disbursed in several tranches over three years will cushion the country's economic crisis, analysts warn the country needs more sustainable reforms and improved governance to complement the credit facility.
Opposition lawmakers accused the administration of incumbent President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo of mismanaging the nation's economy and warned that the IMF loan “will, without doubt, bite hard on Ghanaians.”
With the first tranche of $600 million expected soon, Ernest Addison, Bank of Ghana governor, urged various sectors to support the government’s economic agenda. “This is now the time to begin the work. The program’s approval is just the beginning of the real work of building Ghana better,” Addison said.
The IMF said at the briefing that it will be monitoring the implementation of the economic programs anchored on three principles: restoring macroeconomic stability, ensuring sustainable growth for the macroeconomy and laying the foundations for stronger and more inclusive growth.
“This program, policies and reforms together with the debt restructuring will help ... pave the way for a brighter future for all Ghanaians. It will make the economy more resilient and more likely to withstand shocks in the future,” said Stephane Roudet, IMF’s mission chief to Ghana
The IMF approval brought high hopes in Ghana, especially for families who have been struggling with dwindling earnings even as the price of commodities continues to rise. In Accra, the nation’s capital, Peter Kpodo, a trader, complained of poor sales caused by the soaring inflation.
“Loaf (of bread) that we used to buy at 10 Ghana cedis ($1) has shot up to 19 Ghana Cedis ($1.9), same for fish and other staples,” said Kpodo. “Unfortunately, salary levels have not gone up as we had expected and so, life is just a tough one for us.”
Asadu reported from Abuja, Nigeria.