Ministerial reshuffle won’t derail recovery plans – Prez assures


By Ebenezer Chike Adjei NJOKU

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, in his swansong State of the Nation Address (SONA), has offered assurance that recent ministerial reshuffle, particularly at the Ministry of Finance, will not impair the efforts to restore economic stability.

Exactly a fortnight ago – on Wednesday, February 14 – President Akufo-Addo instituted a ministerial reshuffle which resulted in a change of guard at the Ministry of Finance, with the Fourth Republic’s longest-serving Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta bowing out and the immediate past Minister of State at the Finance Ministry, Mohammed Amin Adam, nominated to replace him.

With the former investment banker spearheading negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) over the US$3billion Extended Credit Facility (ECF) deal which included the infamous Domestic Debt Exchange Programme (DDEP), there were concerns that the change in personnel could scupper negotiations with external creditors and derail implementation of the ongoing bail-out programme.

But addressing Parliament, the President said: “It is important to underline that the recent change in the leadership at the Finance Ministry will not affect the government’s commitment to implementing the terms agreed with the IMF to ensure that we restore the economy to healthy growth as soon as possible”.

The President reflected on the challenging economic situation the nation faced around the time of the last SONA and the necessary measures his administration undertook to stabilise the economy. He highlighted the implementation of difficult but necessary tax measures and a comprehensive debt restructuring initiative as crucial steps taken to restore confidence and stability.

President Akufo-Addo stated that while these measures were unpleasant, they were deemed unavoidable for the greater good of the nation’s economic health. He praised the cooperation and support received from various stakeholders, including financial sector players, organised labour, regulatory institutions and individuals, which contributed to the success of the initiatives.

Key achievements outlined by the President include the voluntary exchange of approximately GH¢203billion worth of bonds, leading to a swift agreement with the IMF. He commended the recent coupon payments made toward domestic debt obligations.

‘Government successfully paid the first coupon of GH¢2.369.67billion on the new bonds on 22nd August, 2023. At the time, that was the single biggest payout of domestic payments in a single day for Ghana. We then paid GH¢2,060.72million for the last leg of the domestic debt exchange on September 5, 2023. A week ago, last Tuesday, on 20th February, 2024, the second coupon of GH¢5.847.72billion was paid to domestic bondholders. This is the largest coupon paid in a day in Ghana’s history,” he said.

On the external debt front, he said significant progress has been made, with agreements reached with public creditors, with special recognition given to France and the People’s Republic of China for their constructive roles.

The President reiterated the government’s commitment to concluding the external debt restructuring process promptly to alleviate financial constraints hindering project completion.

Economic indicators presented by the President showcased notable improvements, indicating a stronger macroeconomy compared to previous years.

President Akufo-Addo also reaffirmed his commitment to prioritising the welfare of the poor and vulnerable amid ongoing economic reforms. He stressed the importance of safeguarding social welfare programmes, such as LEAP (Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty), School Feeding and the Capitation Grant, among others.

“I should point out that in all our discussions with the Fund, a paramount consideration has been to ensure that the poor and vulnerable do not bear the brunt of the sacrifices that have to be made. Programmes like LEAP, School Feeding and Capitation Grant have been protected and, indeed, enhanced,” he remarked.

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