Executive Director of the Institute of Fiscal Studies, Professor Newman Kwadwo Kusi, has stated that the figures being quoted by President John Mahama and Vice-Presidential Candidate of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Alhaji Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, are all likely to be untrue.
President Mahama, in an interview on TV3 on Monday, replied, with some subtlety, a statement made by Dr Bawumia in February that the National Democratic Congress (NDC) since 2009 had borrowed added $37 billion to Ghana’s public debt stock, saying, “the total debt of Ghana as I stand today from independence is $24 billion. How could this government have borrowed $37 billion? Does it make mathematical sense to you?”
But Professor Kusi disagrees with the two positions saying fiscal data from the Bank of Ghana (BoG) and the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning (MoFEP) was too scanty and that there was some cover up of the true situation.
“The Bank of Ghana has not published the public debt stock since September, 2015 so I don’t know where Dr Bawumia’s figures came from but I’m unwilling to accept President Mahama’s $24 billion because the last data released put the public debt stock at $92.2 billion and if we are to convert this by prevailing rates, we’ll see that the President’s figure may not include the debt from the last five months”, he explained.
Either way, both figures are not representative of the true situation, he added.
Professor Kusi who served as an adviser to MoFEP from 2009-2013 deplored why the MoFEP and the BoG were withholding such important data from the public.
“We can’t continue like this; debating about the public debt stock when they are supposed to be telling us. They disclose the information as and when they like and it is unacceptable”, he added.
“What is preventing the government from telling us? I’m wondering what type of information they are giving to the IMF. Is it because they are giving wrong information to the IMF which may be challenged when published?”, he questioned.
Going forward, Prof Kusi called for the passing of the Right to Information Bill and other laws which will in the future require the MoFEP to make available to the public data such as the public debt stock.