Dr. Patrick Assuming, an economist and lecturer at the University of Ghana Business School, says the current International Monetary Fund (IMF) Programme is the costliest of the 16 other programmes pursued by the government.
He said certain government decisions influenced by the IMF programme, notably the Domestic Debt Exchange (DDEP), were drastic and had dire economic consequences for businesses and households.
He made the remarks during the Graphic Business/Stanbic Bank Meeting on Fiscal Discipline and Breaking the Political Business Cycle in 2024.
He observed that the current IMF programme tried to solve the country’s public financial challenges, but it fails to address the fundamental issues afflicting the country, notably the country’s reliance on import and lack of economic resilience.
“Even the measures we had to undertake for the IMF programme to come into being are drastic. This is the costliest IMF programme for ordinary Ghanaians because of its nature and the sacrifices the citizens had to undertake. Ordinary Ghanaians and businesses have really been impacted, so we see a big part is the Domestic Debts Exchange (DDEP) and the challenges and problems impacted businesses in the financial sector as well as senior citizens,’’ he said.
Experts say Ghana’s economic woes resurface after the electioneering year, as elections are usually characterised by budget excesses, especially overspending and spending on unplanned expenditures by the regime in an attempt to appease the voters.
Dr. Assuming said the 2024 general election could stall the economic recovery efforts of the country.
He advised the citizens and Parliament to develop a keen interest in the budget by scrutinising the expenditures to monitor a possible budget overspending.
Mr. Boahene Asamoah, Editor, Graphic Business, questioned the government’s capacity to fulfil its commitment to the 2024 budget in view of less success in securing an external debt restructuring.
He said the government’s decision to increase base pay by 23 percent could exacerbate fiscal discipline efforts due to the size of the wage bill.
He added that the government did not have the leverage to overspend in the 2024 elections due to the unsuccessful attempts to secure external debt relief.
Mr. Bozumbil Michael, the Chief Executive Officer for Petrosol, urged businesses to place a lower premium on the budget due to the government’s failure to address the industry’s key challenges with taxes and other financial obligations.
The event brought stakeholders in the financial sector, representatives of government agencies, and the media together to share insights on how to ensure fiscal discipline in the election year.