Dr. Omane Boamah Fact-checked: Education and Budget Deficit Claims – Half True

Dr. Edward Omane Boamah, the Minister of Communications addressed a press conference on November 28, 2016 where he made certain claims about education, the economy, health and corruption. The fact-checking team examined five of such claims. Below are the specific claims he made, the fact-checking verdicts and the bases for the verdicts.

Claim 1: Youth literacy has improved and mean years in school is also improving.

Verdict: Half True

Explanation: This claim is in two parts. The first part about youth literacy was found to be true based on data from the World Bank and UNESCO. The second part about improving mean years in school is not completely accurate. According to the World Bank, youth literacy rate (15-24 years, both sexes) in Ghana has been on the rise from 70.66% in 2000 to 85.72% in 2010 and finally to 90.60% in 2015. UNESCO’s records on Ghana also corroborates this part of the claim.

On mean years in school, according to Human Development Reports, Ghana scored 6.1 in 2000. This score increased in 2005 to 6.4, 6.7 in 2010 and 7.0 in 2011. The challenge with this part of the claim is that since 2011, Ghana’s score on the mean years in school measure has stagnated at 7.0.

Claim 2: Budget deficit has dropped from a high of 12% in 2012 to 5%

Verdict: Half True

Explanation: It is true that budget deficit has dropped from what was recorded in 2012. Specifically, Ghana recorded a budget deficit of 11.8% in 2012. This declined to 6.3% in 2015. However, the 5% alluded to by the minister can at best be described as a target or projection for 2016 and not an actual.

Claim 3: Our debt sustainability profile has improved and the rating agency Moody’s has recognised this.

Verdict: Mostly True

Explanation: Ghana’s high debt levels dropped to a record low of 26.2% (debt-to-GDP) in 2006 following significant debt reliefs enjoyed under the HIPC programme. Since that time, the government has taken on a lot of debt to finance projects. This has again led to high public debt levels that have been criticised as being unsustainable. Following such widespread criticisms, the government has begun to reign in its rate of borrowing and even chalked some improvements in the debt-to-GDP ratio and budget deficits. As at September 2016, Ghana’s public debt stood at US $ 28.3 billion (GHS 112.4 billion) or 67.4% of GDP. This was a drop from the 72% recorded by end-2015. Also, under IMF’s 3-year Extended Credit Facility (ECF) programme, Ghana’s budget deficit (fiscal deficit) has reduced from 10.2% in 2014 to 6.3% of GDP in 2015. A lot remains to be achieved in these regards as these measures are still considered to be high.

Also, Ghana’s credit rating was maintained at B3 by the Moody’s rating agency. In support of their action, they stated among other things that Ghana’s “fiscal or financial strength, including its debt profile, has not materially changed”. Moody’s however changed the country’s credit and economic outlook from negative to stable and cited the positive changes in fiscal deficit reduction as a rationale for the change in outlook. It can therefore be concluded that Moody’s considered the improvements in fiscal management as substantial enough to warrant a change in outlook but not a change in rating.

Claim 4: The latest United Nation’s Human Development Index has categorised Ghana within the Medium Human Development group, ahead of our neighbours like Cote d’Ivoire and Nigeria, and this is better than what we have ever achieved in the past.

Verdict: Entirely True

Explanation: Ghana’s Human Development Index score in the latest (2015) report was 0.579. This score indeed places Ghana within the medium human development group. From the score of 0.415 in 1980, Ghana’s score has been improving with the latest being the highest ever recorded. The country’s score is also higher than that of Ivory Coast and Nigeria and above the average of 0.518 for countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.

However Ghana’s score is below the average of 0.630 for countries in the medium human development group. Also, our rate of year-on-year improvement on the index has significantly diminished, with 2014/2015 being the lowest ever recorded (from 0.577 to 0.579).

Claim 5: Ghana is 2nd in Africa on the 2016 Rule of Law Index of the World Justice Project (WJP).

Verdict: Entirely True

Explanation: The World Justice Project (WJP) Rule of Law Index is a leading source of original data on the practice of rule of law around the world. Performance on the index is measured using 44 indicators which cut across eight primary rule of law factors that are scored and ranked globally. The 2016 edition of the World Justice Projects rule of law index places South Africa first in Africa with a score of 0.59 and a global rank of 43. Ghana and Botswana follow South Africa with a score of 0.58.

However, it is also worth noting that Ghana’s 2016 score was a drop from what was achieved in 2015 (0.60).

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