October Round-Up: Debunking Ghana’s HIPC Status; Exploring GDP Growth Rate Under Mahama and Akufo-Addo

In the Month of October, the issues that took center stage in Ghana’s political discourse bothered more about the economy. These issues also gained a lot of media attention and raised several conversations especially because of the election period.

With a few days to the December 7 polls, political party communicators of the two main parties, the National Democratic Congress(NDC) and the New Patriotic Party (NPP) intensified their messages on how the the management of the economy of Ghana under  former president John Dramani Mahama and the incumbent government after almost four years at the helm of affairs. Matters relating to the economy is and has always been one of the major indicators to measure a government’s  performance globally.

In the heat of events, several accusations and counter-accusations sprung-up on the basis of who has been or is a better manager of Ghana’s economy. In settling the score in the minds of Ghanaians, Fact-Check Ghana waded into the ‘best managers of Economy’ debate in terms of Ghana’s GDP growth rate and presented the facts.

It is worth noting that, generally, economic growth is an increase in the production of economic goods and services within a country during a specific period. Locally, there are several indicators used in measuring economic growth, but the most widely used is gross national product (GNP) or gross domestic product (GDP).

In that regard, presidential candidates and party communicators of both the NPP and NDC on several platforms attempted to project their records in managing the Ghanaian economy ahead of each other. Similarly, the flagbearers of the two leading candidates also made comments regarding the economy on different platforms. On different occasions.

At the State of the Nation Address (SONA), on February 20, President Akufo-Addo, asserted that “Our economic growth has rebounded to place Ghana among the fastest growing economies in the world for three years in a row at an annual average of 7%, up from 3.4% in 2016, the lowest in nearly three decades,” Akufo-Addo said.

Similarly, At the launch of the NDC’s campaign for the 2020 elections in Sefwi Wiawso in the Western North region on October 7, John Mahama said “Ghana’s GDP in 2020 is projected to be somewhere around $59 billion. This means that the current NPP government-managed an economic growth of only $4 billion in four years. This is the difference between us and them: we delivered $14 billion growth in four years, while they delivered only $4 billion growth in four

This coupled with comments made by the flagbearers of the two leading parties  brought about our report headlined “Economic Growth: Ghana’s GDP Growth Rate Under Mahama and Akufo-Addo. Here are the Facts” and published on October 26, 2020.

After a careful  analysis and research, the team presented the facts as follows:

Table 1: GDP Growth Rate under NDC (2013-2016)

YearGDP Monetary Value (US$ ’ Billions)GDP growth
201362.4057.313%
201453.662.897%
201548.5652.178%
201655.013.448%
Total15.836%

Table 2: GDP Growth Rate under NPP (2017-2020)

YearGDP Monetary Value (US$ ’ Billions)GDP growth
201758.9988.143%
201865.5566.263%
201966.9846.478%
*2020-0.9%
Total21.784%

Under the Akufo-Addo NPP government (2017-2020) (see table 2), Ghana attained its highest GDP growth in 2017, 8.143%, which was also in the government’s first year. Despite the GDP growth falling in the subsequent years, its fall is less, relative to the Mahama-led government.

Furthermore, under the Mahama-led NDC government, Ghana recorded an accumulated GDP growth of 15.836 which translates into an average of 3.959% growth every year. The incumbent Akufo-led government has recorded an accumulated growth of 21.784%, which translates into an average of 5.446%. This indicates that the GDP of Ghana has grown higher under the incumbent NPP government than the NDC.

Also, in October reports emerged that Ghana has returned to the list of Heavily Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) program of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank.

The information initially shared by the former President John Mahama and a major news portal Starrfm.com.gh with a corroborated screenshot from the World Bank website which contains a list of beneficiary countries of the HIPC program including Ghana.

Speaking at an event at the La Palm Royal Beach Hotel, Accra on Monday, October 26, 2020, flagbearer of the NDC, John Dramani Mahama, o stated that Ghana hadreturned to HIPC status.

“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.

Nonetheless, after our research and email correspondence with the International Monetary Fund’s Press Office, we described the statement and news story from John Mahama and Starrfm.com.gh respectively as misleading.

In the said an email response to Fact-check Ghana’s inquiring about the matter, Lucie Mboto Fouda, of the IMF Press Office in Washington D.C, explained that countries that have completed the HIPC program such as Ghana, cannot be readmitted into the program.

“Regarding your inquiry, 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 wrote.

The IMF official 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.”

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