The Civil Society Organisations’ Platform on Ghana IMF programme says an extension of the package will best serve the nation’s interest since it will allow for better implementation of the structural reforms.
A Lecturer of the University of Ghana Business School, Dr Godfred Alufar Bokpin, said there was the need to extend the agreement in order to drive the much needed reform to improve the fiscal governance framework.
He said this at the Fourth National Civil Society Forum on Ghana’s International Monetary Fund Programme in Accra last Thursday on the theme: “Three Years into the IMF-Supported Extended Credit Facility Arrangement: Is the Ghanaian economy on the right path?”
Dr Bokpin explained that the programme had achieved limited effectiveness in the light of the fact that most of the programme objectives had not been met, especially in 2016, with fiscal deficit at 10.3 per cent on commitment basis in 2016, about the same as when the negotiation fort the programme started in 2014.
“Whatever gains we made in the first year of the programme’s implementation were effectively reversed during the election,” he said and added that that in theory effectively ended the programme as the conditions were not met.
“What we should be asking for now is to demonstrate how we can correct the deficiencies we have seen in the programme and get back on track and probably ask for extension,” he stated.
Dr Bokpin said the strength of the IMF-supported programme should be seen in terms of the structural reforms that were contained in the programmes, especially as Ghana was unable, on its own, to develop and execute those reforms.
Some of those reforms, including the Bank of Ghana Act and the Public Financial Management Act though they had been passed, did not contain exactly what Ghana needed thus there was room for some amendments which an extension would allow.
“The IMF itself has incentive to ensure that the programme is extended because Ghana for a while has been a success of the IMF programmes in sub-Saharan Africa and they don’t want this to be tainted and if a request comes from the … government, they will not say no,” he said.
The IMF Resident Representative in Ghana, Ms Natalia Koliadina, said though the programme had had its ups and downs, the current government’s continuity with the programme indicated its desire to depoliticise macro-economic policies and showed its commitment to reinstate fiscal discipline, especially in the light of the limited fiscal space it had to carry out its agenda.
She took participants through the implementation of the programme so far and its current status and also expressed the hope that Ghana would graduate from fund-supported programmes.
“It can and should be done,” she stated, adding that civil society organisations could play an important role in the prioritisation of development projects, which was necessary to manage expenditure and ensuring value for money,” she said.
The Executive Director for the Centre for Policy Analysis and Chair of the forum, Dr Joe Abbey, expressed the important role of civil society in such programmes, saying Ghanaians must own such interventions.
“It is up to us to make these programmes our own because they are not owned by the politicians. When things go awry they will fall on us so let’s claim the ownership. That’s what all this is about,” he stated.
Dr Abbey said civil society in Ghana must insist and get a legislation that would make it possible for the government to make available to them the information that it gave to institutions such as the IMF and World Bank so that they would not have to go through the IMF to get access to such data.