Business

IMF Clears BoG Over GH¢60bn Loss

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The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has come to the aid of the Bank of Ghana (BoG), absolving it from accusation of mismanagement as a result of the loss of GH¢60 billion.

The Bretton Woods institution believes accusation of mismanagement on the part of the central bank is far-fetched, and corroborated the BoG’s explanation on how the negative equity came about.

It noted that the BoG participated in the Domestic Debt Exchange (DDE) to share some of the burden the DDE places on government debt holders, along with banks, other financial institutions, pension funds and individuals.

Criticisms

The BoG’s explanation over the loss of GH¢60 billion has triggered various criticisms from a section of Ghanaians, including the leader of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), John Dramani Mahama.

Mr. Mahama stated that the Governor had ruined the central bank by allowing himself to be dictated to by the government, referring to him as a pliant.

“An incompetent Finance Minister damages the economy and uses COVID-19 and Ukraine/Russia war as cover-ups. A pliant Governor destroys the Central Bank and seeks to use the Domestic Debt Exchange (DDE) as a cover,” the NDC flagbearer posted on social media.

Earlier on, the Minority Leader, Dr. Cassiel Ato Forson called for the immediate resignation of the BoG Governor and his deputies.

“We call for the immediate resignation of the Governor of the Central Bank and his deputies within 21 days from today,” he demanded during the NDC’s “Moment of Truth” address on Tuesday, August 8, 2023 at the party’s headquarters.

IMF Rebuttal

But the IMF insists the loss the BoG incurred in the process has contributed to reducing its net equity to a negative value.

It, however, stated that this does not prevent the BoG from fulfilling its policy mandates and ensuring inflation gradually returns toward its 8-percent target.

The IMF expressed optimism about the BoG’s net equity, stressing that it is expected to improve significantly over time and eventually return to the positive level after the negative-equity position.

“Indeed, central bank income is expected to be sufficient to cover monetary policy operational costs. The BoG’s net equity is expected to improve significantly over time and eventually return to positive territory,” the international financial institution stressed.

Explanation

Earlier, the BoG explained that a significant portion of the GH¢60 billion loss reported in the fiscal year 2022 (GH¢53.1 billion) was a direct result of the government’s domestic debt restructuring exercise.

In a statement issued last Wednesday, the BoG stated that the DDE, a critical component of the corrective strategy stipulated by the IMF programme, did not meet the expected goals.

It indicated that the objective was to reduce the stock of government debt by half, from 105 percent of GDP to 55 percent of GDP by 2028.

“Despite the negative effects on households and banks, the targeted threshold of 55 percent of GDP was not reached. The Bank of Ghana played a role in bridging this gap to enable Ghana to meet the debt threshold that qualified the country for the IMF programme,” the central bank explained.

Negative-Equity Phenomenon

Over the last year, central banks all over the world have begun to record negative equity positions on their balance sheets.

This has coincided with a quick rise in inflation, which has forced monetary policymakers to respond by drastically raising interest rates in a relatively short period of time.

These decisive moves have resulted in balance-sheet mismatches at numerous central banks, including the US Federal Reserve System, the European Central Bank, and the Bank of England, among others.

By Ernest Kofi Adu

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