Former Minister for Finance, Seth Terkper

A critical question is whether the exceptional expenditures relating to COVID-19 or Corona Virus will be recorded as mere (a) “footnote”; (b) Budget Appendix item; (c) “below-the-line” item; and (d) isolated from so-called “headline” budget deficit and public debt in Ghana’s fiscal records.

If this continues, it will be the fourth year of departing from the all-inclusive approach that Ghana has used since it started streamlining its fiscal records from the late 1980s and 1990s—when consistent fiscal records are available for verification.

 It will rekindle the debate over whether the Government of Ghana (GOG) has been presenting parallel number to its citizens and others. This significant departure from Ghana’s “all-inclusive” approach to adding all “exceptional” expenditures to the substantive fiscal record.

A January 2020 article [Reading IMF Between the Lines] and earlier ones argue that this results in using parallel figures to show impressive and accelerated, yet complacent, pace of fiscal consolidation to citizens while endorsing worse performances to the international community.

GOG does not follow recent IMF lead in adding all“exceptional” expenses to arrears, payments, budget deficit, borrowing, and public debt. For example, the Statements to Parliament in March and April 2020 to seek approval for the COVID-19 RCF loan gave the fiscal deficit as 4.7 percent.

This consistently excludes the financial and energy sector bailout costs or arrears that are footnotes and appendix memoranda in the Budgets. However, GOG endorsed the IMF Board’s disclosure of provisional actual and estimated 7 to 9 percent fiscal deficit, with “of which [o/w]” bylines, in both IMFRCF and Article IV statements.

Find the full statement below