Misleading! Ghana has NOT Returned to HIPC

Over the weekend, news emerged on various social media platforms suggesting that Ghana has returned to the Heavily Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) programme of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank.

The news has since been republished by some major news websites. The news reports have been corroborated by a screenshot of a page from the World Bank website which contains a list of beneficiary countries of the HIPC programme including Ghana.The former President and flagbearer of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), John Dramani Mahama, speaking at an event at the La Palm Royal Beach Hotel, Accra on Monday, October 26, 2020, stated that Ghana has returned to HIPC status, adding that the rate of borrowing under the incumbent government is worrying.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, it is my unpleasant duty to inform you that Ghana is back to HIPC status under Nana Akufo-Addo and Ken Ofori-Atta administration,” Mr. Mahama said.

The Minister for Information, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, on the other hand disputed the claims by the former president while speaking at a forum dubbed Nation Building Update on Tuesday, October 27, 2020.

“Categorically we say to you it is not true that Ghana has been declared HIPC or has been added to the list of HIPC countries,” Mr. Nkrumah said.

The news reports, the claim by the flagbearer of the NDC and the statement by the Information Minister has generated debates in the mainstream media and social media pages, leaving many in doubt what the facts of the matter are.

Fact-check Ghana has verified the claim that Ghana has returned to HIPC and conclude that it is misleading.

As part of the verification, Fact-check Ghana contacted the Press Office at the Headquarters of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Washington, D.C, to get some facts about the issue.

In an email response to Fact-check Ghana’s enquiry about the matter, Lucie Mboto Fouda, of the IMF Press Office explained that countries that have completed the HIPC programme such as Ghana, cannot be readmitted into the programme.

“Regarding your enquiry, please be advised that the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative is essentially closed for countries that have already reached the completion point. As you may know, Ghana reached the completion point in July 2004,” she said.

The IMF offciail further stated that “the list of countries that have qualified to the HIPC initiative since inception in 1996 is regularly updated on our website and must NOT be interpreted as a new HIPC list. Any such interpretation is flawed and may be deceptive.”

The Press Office further noted that even though Ghana’s debt-to-GDP growth is forecast to reach 76.6 percent by the end of 2020, it “has not triggered any decision or action by the IMF”.

Below is the response from the IMF’s Press Office to Fact-check Ghana’s enquiry on the matter.

Meanwhile, the IMF country office in Ghana on Tuesday, October 27, issued a statement to debunk the claim that Ghana has officially been declared HIPC.

The HIPC Initiative was launched in 1996 by the IMF, World Bank, and oher multilateral, bilateral and commercial creditors.

According to the IMF, the programme was created for the international financial community to work together in lowering to sustainable levels the external debt burdens of the most heavily indebted poor countries.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank indicate the HIPC initiative since its inception has been approved for about 36 countries. The list of the beneficiary countries of the programme is published on the websites of both IMF and World Bank. Ghana, which joined the programme in 2002 and exited in 2004 is, thus, included in the list on the websites of the two international finacial institutions.

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