THE FIFTH NATIONAL CIVIL SOCIETY FORUM ON THE GHANA-IMF PROGRAMME is slated for Thursday June 28, 2018 from 8:30am at the Mensvic Hotel, East Legon. The theme for the forum is “Review of Three Years of Implementing Ghana’s Sixteenth Stabilization Programme with the IMF: How Does Ghana Avert another Stabilization Programme with the Fund?”
Ghana’s economic environment became very unstable in 2014, with a fast depreciating currency, high debt burden and rising inflation that hit ordinary household pockets the hardest. Government coffers became dried up such that disbursements to earmarked funds, including the District Assembly Common Fund (DACF) to Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) and other government agencies as well as social protection programmes were either never released, under-delivered or suffered severe delays. This situation was further complicated by a power crisis that further worsened the health of the economy.
In August 2014, government ultimately requested an arrangement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and on April 3, 2015, the IMF Board approved a three-year (2015-2017) Extended Credit Facility (ECF) of about US$ 955.2 million or 180 percent of Ghana’s quota at the IMF, which is the country’s sixteenth stabilization programme with the IMF since independence.
Generally, the current arrangement with the Fund has had some positive effects on the economy although there have been challenges particularly in 2016, where the gains made in 2015 were markedly reversed. Consequently, civil society advocated for and supported the call for an extension of the IMF programme to April 2019 (from the initial April 2018) last year to afford the new government more time to work towards attaining the overall programme objectives of restoring debt sustainability and macroeconomic stability through an ambitious and sustained fiscal consolidation programme, a prudent debt management strategy with improved fiscal transparency and an effective monetary policy framework to foster a return to growth and job creation, while safeguarding social and other priority spending.
The civil society platform seek to objectively look at the trade-offs, the ups and downs of the Fund-supported programme and provide useful feedback in promoting the national good.
In past programmes with the IMF, there was very little citizens’ buy-in due mainly to the lack of space for citizens to share their views and thoughts on such important agreements even though citizens were ultimate bearers of the impact of agreements reached between Government and the IMF. Hence, the Civil Society Platform on the IMF Programme (now the Economic Governance Platform) was formed in November 2014 with support from STAR-Ghana and Oxfam, to advocate for civil society inclusiveness in major public financial management issues and in particular the IMF programme design, implementation and monitoring in Ghana by creating dialogue spaces between CSOs, Government, the IMF as well as other development partners.
From the outset, the civil society platform has identified fiscal indiscipline in the management of public resources as responsible for the country’s economic woes. The platform holds the conviction that effective implementation of the current arrangement with the IMF will strengthen the country’s own institutions of fiscal restraint, regain policy credibility as well as chart new sustainable pathways so that Ghana, hopefully, will no longer revert to the IMF for another Fund-supported stabilization programme.
The Platform’s current membership include: Financial Accountability & Transparency-Africa, IMANI Center for Policy & Education, Africa Centre for Energy Policy, Penplusbytes, Ghana Integrity Initiative, Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition, Ghana Center for Democratic Development, SEND Ghana, ISODEC/Institute for Fiscal Policy, Occupy Ghana, African Centre for Parliamentary Affairs, Centre for Policy Analysis, and Institute for Fiscal Studies, among others.
The Platform has been at the forefront of civil society engagements with the IMF and Government on the Fund supported-programme. To this end, four national civil society fora have been organized so far. The first one was held on November 18, 2014 for citizens’ inputs into the programme design and a review of the eventual programme on June 16, 2015. This was followed by two yearly assessments to strengthen programme implementation and performance on March 29, 2016 and July 13, 2017. These were done in addition to the Platform’s regular interactions with the IMF mission team during programme reviews.
The platform’s continued advocacy since November 2014 has contributed to the safeguarding of social protection spending, passage of key structural and legal reforms such as the Public Financial Management Act, 2016, the Amended Bank of Ghana Act, 2016, among others. The Managing Director of the IMF, Ms. Christine Lagarde recognized the useful feedback from the CSO Platform on the IMF programme in Ghana and our Ukrainian counterparts during the CSOs town-hall meeting at the October 2017 Annual meetings of the World Bank & IMF in Washington DC. Adding that this citizens’ initiative to bridge the governance loop was commendable and will serve as a model for the Fund’s citizens’ engagement across the globe.
- Main Goal and Objectives
The main goal of this year’s fifth national civil society forum on the Ghana-IMF programme with the theme; “Review of Three Years of Implementing Ghana’s Sixteenth Stabilization Programme with the IMF: How Does Ghana Avert another Stabilization Programme with the Fund?”, will essentially assess programme performance by Government and IMF over the past three years, highlight the critical issues which should engage the attention of all stakeholders for the remaining year of the programme and beyond the IMF programme in 2019 to forestall another stabilization programme with the Fund.
The objectives are as follows:
- To review quantitative programme and structural reform performance by Government.
- To assess overall programme objectives such as macroeconomic stability, debt sustainability, fiscal transparency and effectiveness of monetary policy.
- To evaluate programme impact on real sectors of the economy (agriculture, industry, etc.).
- To evaluate the performance of pro-poor spending over the past three years.
- To assess the oversight role of the IMF on Ghana’s programme.
- To underscore key issues for 2018 and beyond the programme in April 2019. (What measures must be in place to avert another stabilization programme with the IMF?).
3.0 The Forum
- A consultant will be contracted to prepare a paper on Ghana’s economic performance and programme monitoring results for the discussion at the Forum;
- A panel discussion of the programme monitoring results;
- This will be followed by an open discussion by participants;
- Based on the paper and the subsequent discussions, a communiqué will be issued for consideration by Government and the IMF.
3.2 The Expected Outcomes/Impact
The forum is expected to:
- Present an assessment of the IMF programme roll-out to date.
- Make useful recommendations that will enhance fiscal responsibility in the management of the country’s finances and ensure programme implementation success with nearly a year remaining on the programme.
- Provide a guide on the exit strategy for Ghana in 2019; highlighting the issues critical for the country going forward to avert another stabilization programme with the IMF.
3.3 Forum Participants
The Forum will bring together 70 participants from Civil Society Organizations, Academia, Parliament, Ministry of Finance, Bank of Ghana, Development Partners, Faith-Based Organizations, Trade Unions, Political Parties, Students, the Media and other organized groups