The African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) an autonomous entity of the African Union that supports African countries in the area of credit ratings, has denounced the recent downgrade of Ghana’s rating by international agency Moody’s from B3 to Caa1, with a stable outlook.
The downgrade which the APRM says threatens Ghana’s debt sustainability efforts follows a similar action taken by Ghana’s Ministry of Finance against Moody’s.
The downgrade by Moody’s which follows a similar one by Fitch has led to major discussions about Ghana’s debt levels, its ability to raise enough revenue and ability to access the international capital markets.
In reaction to the downgrades especially the one by Moody’s, the Finance Ministry said it was puzzled by the action and went on to state its concern over the Lead Analyst on Ghana at Moody’s, Ms. Lucie Villa.
According to government’s response, Ms. Villa may not properly understand Ghana’s deepening credit story since obtaining its first credit rating back in 2003, and added that she also has not visited Ghana since assuming her role in January, and as such the downgrade at this critical time was based entirely on a desktop exercise, virtual discussions between 28th January to 3rd February 2022 and what the Finance Ministry believes to be the omission of critical data provided.
In its press release, the African Peer Review Mechanism said it supports and corroborates the observations made by the Government of Ghana, which highlights significant fundamentals that contradict the downgrade action by Moody’s.
The APRM added that Ghana is one of the major economies in Africa and the second-largest in West Africa, hence assigning one primary analyst to assess Ghana significantly enhances the probability of negative analyst biases.
According to the autonomous entity, taking such a major rating decision that threatens the debt sustainability of the country should be treated with seriousness.
It further noted that, rejecting the appeal by the Government of Ghana is evident of the unregulated and irresponsible use of power by international credit rating agencies.
The APRM went on to recommend a number of things including the following;
- Moody’s should review the appeal by the Government of Ghana against an inaccurate credit downgrade, as provided in the agency’s own Procedures and Methodologies Used to Determine Credit Ratings.
- Moody’s should ensure sufficient analyst presence in Ghana through field visits to fully understand and evaluate Ghana’s economic and political environment.
- Moody’s analyst should not make haste rating decisions that may be complicated to correct, at the expense of government’s creditworthiness.
- The Government of Ghana must enact legislation to enhance supervision and regulation of international rating agencies.
- Enhance the regulatory and supervisory powers of the Ghana Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to be at par with international requirements and to be in line with the G20 requirement of regulated and accountable credit rating agencies at a global level.