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Dr. Acheampong challenges Akufo-Addo’s IMF March deadline

Dr. Theophilus Acheampong, an economist and political risk analyst has averred that President Akufo-Addo’s March deadline for the completion of the debt relief negotiations and executive board approval is not feasible.

According to the economist, the earliest the country can complete the debt relief negotiations and get board approval for its debt relief programme is May.

“In fact, according to the data information and assessment we are privy to, I think probably we are talking May thereabout in the best-case scenario, and I’m actually on record on having said this” he said.

Dr. Theophilus speaking during an interview also explained that Ghana’s debt relief negotiations comprises four major players, each with their own interests, “thus, projecting to adequately addressing the specific interests of all four players within the remaining weeks of March is an extreme timeline which cannot be achieved.”

“The reason is that it’s one thing restructuring your domestic debt which is covered under your local law, and it’s another thing with external debt restructuring. In this particular case here, there are four big players in the equation, each with different interests that we need to take into account.

“The first player as Yaw was saying is China, but we also have the Paris club, the 22 most advanced nations that gave money to Ghana in the form of bilateral loans and credit etc. Then you go to the World Bank and the IMF as one. For Ghana’s multilaterals, you can even add African Development Bank in there. But then you also have the Eurobond holders, so these are the four big players within that architecture.”

Breakdown Of Ghana’s External Portfolio

Commenting on Ghana’s 29 billion USD external debt portfolio, Dr. Acheampong disclosed that should the debt be shared among the different players, Ghana then owes Chinese 1.9 billion.

He added that: “So out of 29 billion, it’s roughly just about 7%. But for the Eurobond holders, we owe 13 billion from the 29 so that’s about 45% or 45 pesewas of every cedi or dollar of debt that we owe to these external players.”

“And the complexity really is that everyone has their interest, and trying to coordinate those interests within the timeframe that the Ghanaian government is talking about is an extremely tight one. Let us even focus on the evidence that we have seen in other jurisdictions.

“Recently in Zambia and in other places, even as China has agreed formally to be part of the creditor group with France in Zambia’s case, there are still issues as to how you treat certain categories of debt. So I think that the 31st March deadline most likely will not be met. It’s most likely going to go a couple of months down the line.”

It would be recalled that Mr. Kenneth Yaw Ofori Atta, Finance Minister of Ghana announced the postponement of Ghana’s bilateral debt cancellation talk with the Chinese Government to late march this year, 2023, which was originally slated to have taken place in the earlier days of March.

These reasons, as indicated by Dr. Acheampong, adds up to the fact that government’s ambitious goal of securing an IMF bailout by the end of March may not be realized as projected.

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