Ghana negotiations with IMF to be fast-tracked : finance minister

By Cooper Inveen

ACCRA, Sept 28 (Reuters) - Ghana's negotiations with the International Monetary Fund over a rescue package will be fast-tracked, the country's Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta said on Wednesday.

Ghana began talks with the Fund on Monday for an IMF-supported lending programme in a bid to reduce economic hardship that spurred street protests.

"Negotiations will be fast-tracked to ensure the key aspects of the programme are reflected in the 2023 annual budget statement in November 2022," Ofori-Atta said at a news briefing.

The IMF staff team is discussing policies and reforms with officials in Ghana after the West African country requested a loan from the Fund in July.

The IMF mission is scheduled to last until Oct. 7 and will include a full assessment of the sustainability of Ghana's debt burden. If that debt is deemed unsustainable, the Fund will be unable to provide support without some sort of restructuring.

Reports that the government may be considering a plan to restructure it's local currency debt gained steam last week, prompting credit ratings agency Fitch to downgrade Ghana to "CC" from "CCC".

A Fitch senior director said domestic debt restructuring would be "highly unusual", and warned it could spell disaster for local financial institutions. A brief from Oxford Economics on Monday said it would risk sending Ghana into a recession.

Ofori-Atta said on Wednesday that government had not come to any agreement with the Fund on the parameters of debt operations, but that a committee would be formed in the coming days to engage financial sector stakeholders on how to proceed.

"We welcome all contributions to this great public debate, but we must be careful to build and not to tear down our nation," he said.
Reporting by Bate Felix and Sofia Christensen; Writing by Sofia Christensen and Cooper Inveen; Editing by Estelle Shirbon and Jon Boyle

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