Dr Ebenezer M. Ashley, a Financial Consultant, has called on government to ensure that loans collected were used productively, saying ‘loans must be used for its intended purposes’.
According to him, there should be proper accountability for loans contracted, judicious and diligent disbursement of contracted funds to ensure equitable socio-institutional developments.
Dr Ashley made the call on Monday, in Accra, at a press briefing on the country’s growing debts and its implication on the economy. He said debt sustainability must be defined to include government’s ability to use contracted loans for the purposes it was intended for, to accelerate economic development and growth to ease repayment at the due dates.
He said the country’s total debt for 2017 was GHc 142.5 billion (US$ 32.5 billion) while the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was GH¢204.16 billion (US$46.56 billion) representing 69.8 per cent. Dr Ashley said between 2016 and 2017, the country’s domestic debt increased by GH¢13.3 billion, representing about 24.91 per cent increase while the external debt increased by GH¢6.6 billion, representing about 9.54 per cent increase during the same period.
Comparing the debts to some African countries, Dr Ashley said Zimbabwe and Mauritania recorded respective GDP of US$17.5 billion and US$5.1 billion during the same period.
He urged government to create more fiscal space and less ‘financial openings’ for borrowing, and that, creating more fiscal space should not necessarily whet the nation’s financial appetite for borrowing.
Dr Ashley stressed that government must make conscientious efforts to shift from the old paradigm of borrowing short to pay short, to borrowing long to pay short. “Diligent and economic borrowing means carefully considering pool of financial alternatives and settling for one that offered the best coupon rate and payment terms for the economy,” he added.
He asked government to fully implement the principle of a succession plan that would enable current and successive governments to diligently review projects started under previous administrations and carry them through to a logical conclusion to avoid needless additions to the national debt.
He said governments must ensure relative stability of the Cedi against major currencies such as the British Pound Sterling, Euro and the American Dollar to avert the possibility of issuing more Cedi to settle the same outstanding debts at maturity dates. Dr Ashley urged government to put measures in place to make the country more attractive to foreign investors and international financial institutions.