Sunday, 25 February

Fin. Min. denies giving different economic data to IMF, says fact-checkghana.com's analysis "false", "misleading"

Business
Ken Ofori-Atta is the Finance Minister

The Ministry of Finance has described as false and misleading, the publication by fact-checkghana.com of the Media Foundation for West Africa that the government of Ghana shared different macroeconomic data with Ghanaians and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) before borrowing from the Fund.

According to a statement, contrary to the claims in the publication, there is consistency between full-year fiscal performance indicators (overall fiscal balance and primary balance) reported by the Ministry of Finance and that reported by the IMF, though both of them independently estimate their Gross Domestic Product projections based on independent assumptions.

“We wish to state that this assertion is false and misleading.

“May we state that the Ministry of Finance welcomes discussions of the economic information we provide. Such discussions help us in managing the economy. We also operate an open-door policy”, it explained.

Continuing, it said the first inaccuracy in the said publication was taking from the January to September 2019 figures, that is the third quarter figures reported in its budget statements and comparing them with the full-year figures reported by the IMF.

The fiscal deficit and primary balance reported in the publication are provisional end-September data quoted from the 2019 and 2020 Budget Statements, it emphasised, adding “It was wrong to compare them with the full-year figures reported by the IMF and come to the erroneous conclusion that the government had misrepresented information on the economy.”  

“Here is the data: for the first three quarters of 2018 and 2019, the provisional fiscal deficit reported were 3.0% of GDP (2019 Budget Statement) and 4.5% of GDP (2020 Budget Statement), respectively while the primary balances were 0.5% of GDP (2019 Budget Statement) and -0.3% of GDP (2020 Budget Statement) respectively”, it pointed out.

However, it said the full-year fiscal outturn published on the Ministry of Finance website (www.mofep.gov.gh) indicate that the fiscal deficit was 3.9% of GDP for 2018 (Jan-Dec) and 4.8% of GDP for 2019 (Jan-Dec) while the primary balance recorded a surplus of 1.5% of GDP and 0.9% of GDP in 2018 and 2019 respectively.

It, therefore, urged the public to seek clarification on matters they may have difficulty with, adding “and we would be happy to help resolve any misunderstanding. Publishing such wrong claims about the economy is not helpful”. 

Continuing, it said, “It is also important to point out for public education that there may be some explained disparities between the data reported by national authorities and the IMF across the world.”

In Ghana’s case, it pointed out that differences between Ministry of Finance and the IMF data are mainly based on whether the reported fiscal deficit includes or excludes extraordinary items such as financial sector bailout and energy sector contingent liabilities
 and whether the reported fiscal deficit includes or excludes Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) retentions.

Others are whether the fiscal deficit to GDP ratio is based on provisional or actual nominal GDP and whether the assumptions underpinning reported projected GDP are the same or differs. 

“It is worthy of note that, just as Ghana did in our full-year reports, the IMF in their Ghana Country Report (No.20/110), from which the Media Foundation quoted, both the “Overall balance” and “Overall balance excluding financial and energy sector related costs” have been reported. It is disingenuous for anybody to pick different variables for comparison. The Media Foundation should not do that.”, it noted. 

With respect to the Current Account Balance, it noted that the data shows practically no discrepancy between the Band of Ghana and the IMF on current account balance for 2018 and 2019. 

On Gross International Reserves, it said the differences could emanate from the treatment of petroleum funds (Ghana Stabilization Funds & Ghana Heritage Funds) in Gross International Reserves. Whiles the IMF data excludes petroleum funds, the Bank of Ghana data includes petroleum funds.  

The Ministry of Finance's statement concluded saying its doors are always open to those who may need clarification on information about Ghana’s economy.

Source: classfmonline.com