The Finance Ministry has refuted claims by the opposition NDC and Fact Check Ghana that it has been massaging macroeconomic data in the country.
The NDC and Fact Check Ghana said figures presented to the IMF by the government for $1 billion under the Rapid Credit Facility (RCF) was not the same as figures presented to parliament.
The statement from the Ministry said, “Our attention has been drawn to a publication by fact-checkghana.com of the Media Foundation for West Africa suggesting that Government has shared different macroeconomic data with Ghanaians and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). We wish to state that this assertion is false and misleading.
Fact Check Response
May we state that the Ministry of Finance welcomes discussions of the economic information we provide. Such discussions help us in managing the economy. We also operate an open-door policy.
We urge the public to seek clarification on matters they may have difficulty with and we would be happy to help resolve any misunderstanding. Publishing such wrong claims about the economy is not helpful.
The first inaccuracy in the said publication was taking the January to September figures, that is the third quarter figures reported in our budget statements and comparing them with the full year figures reported by the IMF.
The fiscal deficit and primary balance reported in the publication are provisional end-September data quoted from the 2019 and 2020 Budget Statements. It was wrong to compare them with the full year figures reported by the IMF and come to the erroneous conclusion that Government had misrepresented information on the economy.
Here is the data: for the first three quarters of 2018 and 2019, the provisional fiscal deficit reported were 3.0% of GDP (2019 Budget Statement) and 4.5% of GDP (2020 Budget Statement), respectively while the primary balances were 0.5% of GDP (2019 Budget Statement) and -0.3% of GDP (2020 Budget Statement) respectively.
However, the full year fiscal outturn published on the Ministry of Finance website (www.mofep.gov.gh) indicate that the fiscal deficit was 3.9% of GDP for 2018 (Jan-Dec) and 4.8% of GDP for 2019 (Jan-Dec) while the primary balance recorded a surplus of 1.5% of GDP and 0.9% of GDP in 2018 and 2019 respectively.
Contrary to the claims in the publication, there is consistency between full-year fiscal performance indicators (overall fiscal balance and primary balance) reported by the Ministry of Finance and that reported by the IMF, even though both of them independently estimate their GDP projections based on independent assumptions. For the avoidance of doubt, Table 1 below depicts the level of consistency in the fiscal data as reported by both the MoF and IMF.
It is also important to point out for public education that there may be some explained disparities between the data reported by national authorities and the IMF across the world. In Ghana’s case, differences between MoF and IMF data are mainly based on:
whether the reported fiscal deficit includes or excludes extraordinary items such as financial sector bailout and energy sector contingent liabilities;
whether the reported fiscal deficit includes or excludes Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) retentions; and
whether the fiscal deficit to GDP ratio is based on provisional or actual nominal GDP.
Whether the assumptions underpinning reported projected GDP are the same or differs.
It is worthy of note that, just as Ghana did in our full-year reports, the IMF in their Ghana Country Report (No.20/110), from which the Media Foundation quoted, both the “Overall balance” and “Overall balance excluding financial and energy sector related costs” have been reported. It is disingenuous for anybody to pick different variables for comparison. The Media Foundation should not do that.