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The Ministry of Finance has described as ‘false and misleading’ the publication by fact-checkghana.com of the Media Foundation for West Africa, which suggests that government shared different macroeconomic data with Ghanaians and with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
According to the Ministry, publishing such wrong claims about the economy is not helpful as there may be some explained disparities between the data reported by national authorities and the IMF across the world.
Government explained that in Ghana’s case, differences between MoF and 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, whether the reported fiscal deficit includes or excludes Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) retentions, 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.”
According to the fact-checking organisation, the different sets of data were presented because of information coming from the IMF following the disbursement of a $1 billion credit facility upon a request for financial support to the government amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The fact-checking organization indicated that the disparities were in the figures of GDP Deficit, Primary Balance, Current Account Balance, and Gross International Reserves figures.
A statement issued by the Ministry of Finance however states that, “The first inaccuracy in the said publication was taking the January to September figures, that is the third quarter figures reported in our 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 was wrong to compare them with the full year figures reported by the IMF and come to the erroneous conclusion that Government had misrepresented information on the economy,” it added.
Among other issues, the Ministry also explained that, “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, even though both of them independently estimate their GDP projections based on independent assumptions.”
“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.
However, the full year fiscal out-turn published on the Ministry of Finance website (www.mofep.gov.gh) indicates 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,” the statement noted.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Finance says it welcomes discussions of the economic information provided, as “such discussions help us in managing the economy and also operates an open-door policy,”
“We urge the public to seek clarification on matters they may have difficulty with, and we would be happy to help resolve any misunderstanding. Publishing such wrong claims about the economy is not helpful.,” it added.
On April 13, 2020, the Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) issued a statement approving the disbursement of US$1 billion credit facility to the government of Ghana to be used to address the impact the Covid-19 pandemic is having on the economy.
Following the disbursement, a report from the IMF containing data on the macro-economic situation of Ghana, provoked some discussions about the data presented.
As a result, factcheck-ghana.com analyzed the data submitted to the IMF by the authorities and what has been previously shared with Ghanaians and published by the Ministry of Finance. Based on the figures, they concluded that indeed, the data presented by the government to the IMF are different from those in budget statements.
On May 9, 2020, a Deputy Information Minister, Pius Hadzide, dismissed the concerns, stating that the Minority, “deliberately and mischievously selected the IMF projections and their own analysis as against what the state presented which was equally captured on that [World Bank] website.”