IMF team to visit Ghana in December for more talks on relief package

Image Source: Reuters

ACCRA (Reuters) -An International Monetary Fund (IMF) staff team will visit Ghana again from Dec. 1 to 13 to continue discussions on the West African country's request for a support programme to help reduce debt distress, the Fund said in a statement on Wednesday.

Ghana turned to the IMF for help in July as its balance-of-payments deteriorated and hundreds took to the streets as the country faces its worst economic crisis in a generation, with rampant inflation and spiralling debt.

"Our objective for this visit is to make further progress toward reaching agreement on policies and reforms that could be supported by an IMF lending arrangement," staff team head Stephane Roudet said in the statement.

Finance ministry officials have repeatedly said they hope to reach a staff-level agreement with the IMF by the end of 2022.

Presenting the 2023 budget last week, Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta said Ghana was at high risk of debt distress. He promised to cut spending and boost revenue.

In an update to the Ghana section on its website on Wednesday, the IMF said that Ghana's authorities "have assessed their public debt as being unsustainable over the medium term" and would conduct a "debt operation" in response.

Ghana's total public debt stood at $48.9 billion at the end of September, $28.4 billion of which was external, according to government figures.

Ofori-Atta said last week that Ghana would undertake a "debt exchange" with creditors to reduce the government's interest burden.

The Bank of Ghana hiked its main lending rate to 27% on Monday after inflation hit a 21-year peak last month.

The government said last week it was working on a new policy whereby Ghana would use gold rather than U.S. dollars to buy oil products, and that all large-scale mining companies had been ordered to sell 20% of their refined gold to the Bank of Ghana.

(Reporting by Rachel Savage and Cooper Inveen; Writing by Sofia ChristensenEditing by Estelle Shirbon, Chizu Nomiyama and Lisa Shumaker)



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