Disclose Full Content Of IMF Agreement; Socialist Forum Demands Of Govt

The Socialist Forum of Ghana (SFG) is demanding full disclosure of the content of the government’s agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

“These agreements are about us and our future and the people of Ghana deserve to know the full facts,” a member of the forum, Mr Kwesi Pratt, said at a news conference in Accra yesterday.

The IMF deal
The IMF Executive Board approved a $950-million loan for Ghana to support a reform programme aimed at faster growth and job creation, while protecting social spending.

The government’s programme projects an economic growth pick-up to start in 2016, driven by expected increases in Ghana’s oil production.

Apart from reforming some public sector organisations, the main pillars of the IMF programme include structural reforms to strengthen public finances and fiscal discipline by improving budget transparency, cleaning up and controlling the payroll, right-sizing the civil service and improving revenue collection

It is also aimed at restoring the effectiveness of the inflation targeting framework to help bring inflation back to a single digit and also preserve financial sector stability.

Lack of transparency
Mr Pratt contended that public discussion of the deal had been greatly hampered by the lack of information and transparency.

With Ghana’s electricity supply at an epileptic rate, among the institutions targeted for public sector reform in the IMF deal is the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG).

He wondered why the full terms under which the country’s power distributor was being allegedly handed over as a concession to a foreign firm had not been disclosed.

Fuel price deregulation/IMF deal
The full deregulation of the prices of petroleum products took effect from June 16, this year.

The policy allows marketers and importers of petroleum products to set their own prices, a departure from the old regime when the National Petroleum Authority regulated the prices.

Since then, fuel prices have been increased twice.

Mr Pratt alleged that there were suggestions that the IMF deal entailed a review of the prices of petroleum products every two weeks, as well as the full deregulation of the utility sub-sector.

“Over the last four weeks, the implementation of the deal with the IMF has allegedly led to significant increases in the prices of petroleum products and utility tariffs, with their ripple effects throughout the economy,” he said.

He said the forum was alarmed by the developments, particularly so because of the history of deals between the country and the Bretton Woods institutions.

“Ghana embarked on the neo-liberal path with disastrous consequences in 1983,” he said.

Mr Pratt said one of the effects of the country’s engagement with the IMF and the World Bank was that the government had withdrawn subsidies on agriculture, while there was now limited access to such social services as education and health.

He stressed that the measures imposed by those institutions had not in any way led to improvement in the national economy.