The Ghana ‘goodbye’ letter Ken Ofori-Atta and Addison sent to the IMF

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On March 7 this year, the Minister of Finance, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, and the Governor of the Bank of Ghana (BoG), Dr Ernest Addison, officially communicated Ghana’s intention to exit from the extended credit facility(ECF) programme with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in April 2019.

The letter was addressed to the Managing Director of IMF, Ms Christine Lagarde.

It followed successful completion of the programme, which took off in April 2015 with primary objective of restoring debt sustainability and macroeconomic stability to foster a return to high growth and job creation, while protecting social spending.

In the letter, the two officials, on behalf of the government, extended our gratitude to you, the Board and all Fund staff for being our trusted advisors.

We are graduating from the ECF program on a strong note and are optimistic about our medium-term prospects to create a prosperous society for all,” it said.

It noted that the economy had responded positively to policies implemented during the IMF programme and cited the pick-up in growth and decline in inflation and the fiscal deficit as examples.

The letter also requested the Executive Board of the IMF to waive the nonobservance of the performance criteria (PC) on some key indicators that were missed.

It mentioned the missed criterion as the wage bill, the net international reserves of BoG, for both end-June and end-December 2018, the PC on the primary balance for end-June (although met for end-December) and the continuous PC on gross credit to the government by BoG (missed in November 2018 following the exceptional intervention of BoG in monetising the bond assigned to the Consolidated Bank Ghana as part of the financial sector clean up).

The waivers were prerequisites to the country completing the combined seventh and eighth reviews of ECF arrangement, and to disburse the seventh and eighth tranches totalling the equivalent of SDR 132.84 million, according to the letter.

Below is a full copy of the letter

Letter of Intent

Accra, March 7, 2019

Ms. Christine Lagarde Managing Director

International Monetary Fund (IMF) Washington, D.C. 20431

Dear Ms. Lagarde,

1. On behalf of the Government of Ghana,we hereby transmit the attached Memorandumof Economic and Financial Policies (MEFP)that sets out progress that has been made inthe Extended Credit Facility programme which was agreed with the Authorities in April2015.

2. Two years ago, this Government assumedoffice after winning an overwhelming mandate from the people ofGhana in December 2016.The Government inherited an economic programme that had been derailedwith severe macroeconomic imbalances,significantly deviating from the programmeobjectives. During the last two years, the government requested for an extension of the programme and recalibrated the macroeconomic framework with the aim of restoring macroeconomic stability. During this period, some decisive and painful actions weretaken to uphold fiscal consolidation andfinancial stability to promote growth and jobcreation.

3. We are happy to report that the economyhas responded positively to these measures. Growth has picked up from3.4 percent in 2016to 8.1 percent in 2017 and 6.7percent for thefirst three quarters of 2018. Inflation has declined from 15.4 percent to 9.0 percentin January 2019. The consolidation of ourpublic finances has been successful leading toa significant reduction in the fiscal deficit from7.3 percent of GDP in 2016 to 3.8 percentin2018. The primary balance turned positive at the end of 2017, the first time in almost a decade, and remained positive and as programmed at the end of 2018.

Our efforts have been welcomed both domestically and internationally, culminating inthe first ratings upgrade from Standard andPoor’s in 2018, after almost a decade as wellas the largest Eurobond issuance in2018consisting of the issuance of the first 30-year bond and achieving the lowest rate on a10-year bond sinceGhana’s debut Eurobond issuance in 2007. While progress on somestructural reforms has been slower than anticipated, we continue to address outstanding vulnerabilities.

4. In light of the resolve and commitmentshown in implementing macroeconomicpolicies and reforms, the government of Ghanarequests the IMF Executive Board to waive thenonobservance of the PerformanceCriteria(PC) on the wage bill, the netinternational reserves ofBank of Ghana (BoG), for both end-June and end-December 2018,the PC on the primary balance for end-June(though met for end-December) andthe continuous PC on gross credit to thegovernment by the Bank of Ghana (missed inNovember 2018 following the exceptional intervention of the Bank of Ghanain monetizing the bond assigned to theConsolidated Bank,Ghana as part of thefinancial sector clean up), to complete thecombined seventh and eighth review of theExtended Credit Facility (ECF) arrangement,and to disburse the seventh and eighthtranches totaling the equivalent of SDR 132.84 million.

5. Going forward, we are committed to continueto pursue the appropriate mix of policies to support growth while at the same time beingmindful of the need to safeguard macroeconomic stability. Securing the irreversibility of our policies, through the building of strong institutions, remains a keystrategy for enabling us to achieve ourvision ofmoving “Ghana Beyond Aid”.

We have, therefore, put in place a legalframework to help secure fiscal discipline. As afirst step, we have passed theFiscalResponsibility Act, 2018 (Act 982) whichcaps the fiscaldeficit at 5 percent of GDP, and ensures the maintenance of an annual primary surplus. We have also established and inaugurated a Fiscal [Responsibility]AdvisoryCouncil and a Financial StabilityAdvisory Council. These frameworks andstructures should ensure the irreversibility ofreforms and measures introduced to sustain macroeconomic stability and discipline, and provide an anchor to guide policies in the medium term.

6. The President’s “Ghana Beyond Aid”agenda remains on course. This transformationagenda is anchored in growing the productive sectors of the economy, boosting domestic revenue mobilization, diversifying our export receipts to value-added products, andpositioning Ghana as the Regional Hub for financial services, transportation, energy, fintech and logistics hub, while making GhanaaWISER Society (Wealthy, Inclusive,Sustainable,Empowered, and Resilient). Weare also confident that renewed collaboration with Republic of Côte d’Ivoire in the cocoa sector will strengthen our bargaining power as we process more locally, and other partners inthe oil sector will ensure we retain maximumbenefit as numerous major oil playersemergence on our shores.

7. As we conclude and exit this ExtendedCredit Facility arrangement, we extend ourgratitude to you, the Board and all Fund stafffor being our trusted advisors. We are graduating from the ECF program on a strong note and are optimistic about our medium-term prospects to create a prosperous society for all.

8. The government consents to make publicthe content of the IMF staff report, includingthis letter, the attached RFP and TechnicalMemorandum of Understanding(TMU), and theDebt Sustainability Analysis (DSA)performedby IMF and World Bank staff and,therefore,authorizes the IMF to publish these documents on its website once the IMF Executive Board approves the completion ofthe seventh and eighth reviews under the ECF program.

Ken Ofori-Atta, Minister of Finance

Ernest Addison, Governor of Bank of GhanaHi 

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