The Civil Society Organisations Platform has called for the extension of the country’s programme with the IMF, saying it will best serve the nation’s interest since it will allow for better implementation of the structural reforms.
Dr. Godfred Alufar Bokpin, a Lecturer at the University of Ghana Business School, said there was the need to extend the agreement in order to drive the much needed reform to improve the fiscal governance framework.
He was speaking at the Fourth National Civil Society Forum on Ghana’s International Monetary Fund Programme in Accra on Thursday on the theme: “Three Years into the IMF-Supported Extended Credit Facility Arrangement: Is the Ghanaian economy on the right path?”
He explained that, the programme had achieved limited effectiveness in the light of the fact that most of the programme’s 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 for the programme started in 2014.
“Whatever gains we made in the first year of the programme implementation were effectively reversed during the election,” he said, adding that this 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 that 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 will allow.
“The IMF itself has incentive to ensure that the programme is extended because Ghana for a while had 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.
Ms Natalia Koliadina, the IMF Resident Representative in Ghana, said though the programme had had its ups and downs, the current government’s continuity with the programme indicated its desire to depoliticize macro-economic policies, and showed its commitment to reinstate fiscal discipline, especially in 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 it’s 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 prioritization of development projects, which was necessary to manage expenditure and ensure value for money,” she said.
Dr. Joe Abbey, Executive Director for the Centre for Policy Analysis and Chair for the forum, expressed the important role of civil society in such programmes, saying Ghanaians must own such interventions.
“It is to us to make these programmes our own because they are not owned by the politicians. When things go awry thy will fall on us so let’s claim the ownership. That’s what all this is about,” he stated.
He said civil society in Ghana must insist and get a legislation that makes it possible for government to make available to them the information that it gives to institutions like the IMF and World Bank, so that they would not have to go through the IMF to get access to such data.