Ghana has been to the International Monetary Fund seventeen times since Independence for financial aid.
Ghana has also never been in a better place to receive this financial aid without any long-term repercussions.
At first glance, hearing the phrase IMF sends shivers down the spine of Ghanaians, and justifiably so.
Successive governments have entered the program and exited with fanfare, only to let the gains evaporate in a short time due to a return to the very practices that triggered going to the fund in the first place.
Ghana is fortunate in 2022 that despite a crippling global pandemic and an increasingly unending war in Ukraine, there are numerous indicators which signal hope that an IMF program would have lasting gains this time.
Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia outlined these during a speech at the launch of the Accra Business School’s new IT program held Thursday, June 14th, 2022.
Speaking at the launch, the Vice President listed the programs which place Ghana on a far better footing now than it has ever been on and which signal hope for the future.
“After each IMF program, the underlying system and structure of the economy has remained the same,” Bawumia said, adding a slew of policies and interventions Ghana did not have for any of our past trips to the monetary fund.
“Ghana did not have a national id card, no functional national digital property address system…inefficiency, bureaucracy and bribery at the port and in delivery of government services, no digitisation at the passport office, DVLA, births and deaths .., less than 4% of the population had a tax identification number…there were no drones to deliver medical supplies…and no free senior high school education,” Bawumia rattled.
The compounding effects of these policies, alongside more fiscal responsibility on the part of the government should, in theory, help Ghana recover very well from the effects of the program.
Dr Bawumia further spoke on a necessary cut to spending, increase in revenue mobilisation and curtailment of concessionary borrowing moves on the part of the government.
A further important step is to see the central bank, the Bank of Ghana, have a right of first refusal to purchase any gold mined in Ghana, a move to shore up its reserves back to acceptable levels.
All these add up to a promising future outlook despite the difficult economic conditions triggered by external factors – the pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war – which Ghanaians are currently feeling.
There’s never a right time to go to the IMF- it’s like a trip to the doctor and there’s really no good time for a trip to the doctor.
However, if we have to go, this might very well be the best time – a time in our history when we have enough policies in place to cushion the effects and enable consolidation of those gains going forward.
None of the previous governments committed a sin in the 17 times we went to the IMF, it was more in the fact that the country was allowed to deteriorate again after the program.
Ultimately, that’s what this government would be judged on and not going to the IMF because we’ve seen that movie many times.