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NDC rubbishes claims COVID-19 pandemic influenced rising debt

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The National Democratic Congress (NDC) has rubbished assertions that Ghana’s debt is rising in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

It maintains that Ghana’s debt “was already increasing at an alarming rate and had reached unsustainable levels.”

“Therefore, the claim by government spokespersons that COVID-19 is what has accounted for our current unsustainable and catastrophic debt situation is not borne out by the facts,” the opposition party added.

Ghana’s total debt at the end of July 2020 rose to GHS263.1 billion.

Provisional figures from the Finance Minister in June indicated that the debt stock at the time was around 66 percent of GDP.

The International Monetary Fund expects Ghana’s debt-to-GDP-ratio to hit 76.7 percent.

The NDC maintains that this is “unsustainable and exceeds the acceptable debt threshold.”

“Indeed, our current debt position is worse than where we were when we joined the HIPC debt relief program in the year 2001, at which time our debt to GDP ratio stood at 61 percent,” the party said at a press conference on Wednesday addressed by its Communication Officer, Sammy Gyamfi.

Any attempts to link the pandemic to Ghana’s debt are “untenable and laughable,” the NDC stated further.

Beyond the numbers, the NDC said the government had little to show for the debt.

“This government cannot show any significant or self-financing projects that their unprecedented borrowings have been used for,” the party said.

Instead, the NDC feels the Akufo-Addo administration has “wasted the chunk of the monies on consumption, corruption and wasteful expenditures.”

“His [Akufo-Addo’s] misplaced priorities is what has plunged Ghana into the catastrophic debt situation and economic quagmire we presently find ourselves.”

The party thus reiterated its stance that Ghana had the features of a Highly Indebted Poor Country (HIPC).

“This is because, even though the IMF’s HIPC debt relief program has ended, and Ghana is now a lower-middle-income country, our 2020 debt to GDP ratio of 76.7%, is highly unsustainable and worse than where we were 19 years ago when we joined the HIPC programme.”

“This is an indisputable fact, and no amount of deceptive semantics by the Akufo-Addo-government can change that.”

Observers have, however, shied away from including 2020 in assessments of the economy and its debt levels.

An economist, Dr. Adu Sarkodie argued on Eyewitness News that the coronavirus has presented an extreme strain on economies globally.

“If you ask me to do my analysis, I will be happy to do that pre-COVID [pandemic] but in the midst of COVID-19, where every economy is crippled… which country is not borrowing at this time? Which country is not in economic difficulties?”

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