Ghana’s total public debt has hit 112.4 billion cedis equivalent to 28.3 billion dollars, as at September 2016.
The figure represents about 14 percent increase from the 98.8 billion cedis recorded in January this year.
The latest Economic and Financial Data released by the Bank of Ghana also indicated that the country’s total debt represents 67.4 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
The external component of the debt is estimated at 65 billion cedis; representing 39 percent of GDP while the domestic component of the debt is estimated at 47.4 billion cedis; representing 28.4 percent of GDP.
As at July, the provisional figures released by the central bank indicated that the debt to GDP ratio had dropped from the 71.6 percent mark to 65.9 percent.
The external component of the country’s debt had been declining between January and June.
The figure dropped from 60.7 billion cedis in January to 60.4 billion cedis in June.
This translated into a debt to GDP ratio of 36.4 and 36.2 percent respectively.
However, the external component of Ghana’s debts increased by 2 billion cedis in July, inched up again in August and reached the 65 billion cedis at the end of September.
Meanwhile the local component of the debt has been increasing throughout the nine month period.
It moved from 40.4 billion cedis in January (24.2 percent of GDP) to 47.4 billion cedis in September (28.4 percent of GDP).
In addition, total expenditure as a percentage of GDP increased significantly from 1.4 percent in January 2016 to 14 percent in July 2016.
Total revenue and grants to GDP for the period also increased by over 700 percent; from 1.3 percent to 11.1 percent.
Similarly, tax revenue accruing to the state for the seven month period went up from 1.1 to 9 percent between January and July this year.
External sector performance
The country’s performance on the external sector still raises concern as imports still continue to rise and affecting the balance of payments.
Merchandise exports (gold, cocoa, oil) increased from 2.54 billion dollars in the 2016 first quarter to 7.94 billion dollars by the end of the third quarter.
Also, merchandise imports (oil and non-oil imports) increased from 3.29 billion dollars in the 2016 first quarter to 9.75 billion dollars.
The current account component of Ghana’s balance of payments reached (-1344.6 million dollars) at the end of the third quarter of this year from (-593.4 million dollars) recorded in the first quarter.
Meanwhile the capital account component increased from 64.2 to 150.2 million dollars between the first and second quarters of 2016.
Debt to cross 70% mark?
Economist Dr. Eric Osei Assibey has cautioned that Ghana’s debt to GDP ratio could hit the 70 percent threshold if the base rate for calculating the figure, is adjusted to reflect current growth targets.
“The projection was about 4.9 percent based on the revised budget. If that is what was used to obtain the 65.9 percent and now the IMF has revised the country’s growth target to 3.3 percent thereby reducing the base. Calculating the debt levels with the relatively lower growth rate will result in a higher figure,” he warned.
Crossing the 70 percent mark is also likely to affect Ghana’s international credit rating.
By: Pius Amihere Eduku/citibusinessnews.com/Ghana