Press spotlights government’s optimism of concluding negotiations with IMF by March, others

The report that Ghana is optimistic of concluding the ongoing negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to get the…

The report that Ghana is optimistic of concluding the ongoing negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to get the support of the fund by March is one of the leading stories in the Ghanaian press on Monday.The Graphic reports that Ghana is optimistic of concluding the ongoing negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to get the support of the fund by March.

This is because the issues surrounding the domestic debt exchange programme, one of the requirements, has been “virtually concluded”, paving the way for the country to go the full hog.

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo gave this assurance when he held discussions with the visiting German Federal Minister of Finance, Christian Lindner last Friday at the Jubilee House in Accra.

He said the main concerns of the government include the process of concluding talks with the IMF, as well as the specific assistance that would help Ghana fast-track the process of its economic recovery.

“We have already taken one important step forward in concluding a staff level agreement with the IMF. One of the steps was the domestic debt exchange programme which encountered a lot of difficulty; but it has now been virtually concluded.

“We are now looking towards going the full hog and concluding the agreement. We’re hoping that will be done by the middle of March,” President Akufo-Addo said.

Germany’s Finance Minister was in Ghana for bilateral talks with the government and the business communities and also to assure Ghana of Germany’s support to help Ghana get out of its current economic challenges.

He was accompanied by an entourage made up of technocrats and Members of Parliament of Germany’s federal Parliament, the Bundestag.

Mr Lindner said the delegation was in the country because although they saw economic challenges in Ghana, they believed they could be turned into opportunities for bilateral trade.

The newspaper says that MTN Group Limited, Africa’s largest wireless carrier, has said a GH¢8.2 billion ($672 million) tax bill it received from the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) has been scrapped.

Ghana’s decision came after “extensive and productive discussions” during a 21-day negotiation period between the revenue authority and the mobile-phone operator, MTN said in a filing on Friday (February 3, 2023).

The decision to withdraw the tax bill came after the Ghana Revenue Authority last month sent Ghana’s biggest corporate taxpayer a surprise claim for the period between 2014 and 2018.

The potential fine represented about 5% of MTN’s market capitalisation and the government’s decision “removes a threat to this year’s shareholder returns,” Bloomberg Intelligence analyst John Davies said in a note.

The Ghana government has been demanding some of the nation’s largest companies to pay millions of dollars of back taxes.

Gold Fields Limited, Kosmos Energy Limited and Tullow Oil Plc have received similar bills.

All of the companies dispute the government’s claims.

Ghana lost access to international capital markets because of its ballooning debt and loan-service costs.

The government has been forced to allocate most of its revenue to service an estimated GH¢576 billion of public debt.

The Ghanaian Times reports that President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo on Friday urged Germany to “encourage” China, an ad hoc member of the Paris Club, to support Ghana’s debt restructuring efforts.

He said it was critical that the Paris Club swiftly establishes, with the participation of other official creditors, a creditors committee, to support the efforts that would enable Ghana to restore economic growth.

The President made the call when the German Finance Minister, Christian Lindner, called on him at the Jubilee House, Accra.

Linden, who was at the head of a delegation from his country, held bilateral talks with the President aimed at boosting relations and economic ties between the two nations.

President Akufo-Addo said the main concern of his government was to conclude negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), particularly at the Board Level and seal a deal with the Bretton Woods institution by mid-March this year.

“Our main concern right now is the arrangements that we are in the process of concluding with the IMF and the specific assistance that will be useful to us and help us fast-track the process.”

President Akufo-Addo said that there was a vital need for other creditors to support the efforts that his government was undertaking to restructure both the external and domestic debts of the country, to enable the IMF deal to fall through quickly.

“We now have our relations with the Paris club and the common framework, and we are looking for as quickly as possi¬ble a creditor committee to be established, so we will have the body with whom we can engage to bring those discussions as quickly as possible.

“We have good relations with China. We will like you to encour¬age China to participate in these programmes as quickly as possible. A very important consideration for us is the financial stability fund that has been promised us as one of the key outcomes of these negotiations and definitely once again, your voice in trying to bring that into being is something that we would appreciate very much,” President Akufo-Addo said.

The President commended the German government for extending support to Ghana to enable her to overcome the current economic difficulties.

He said the German government had proven to be a reliable ally and Ghana would continue to count on the European nation as “a privileged partner” as the coun¬try seeks a bailout from the IMF.

IMF last December reached a Staff-Level Agreement on a $3 billion, three years Extended Credit Facility with Ghana to relieve its debt distress. The approval of the package is however subject to Ghana comprehensively restructuring its domestic and external debts.

The newspaper says that Puma Energy says its commitment to the provision of energy security in Ghana has been reinforced by its investment in upgrading its strategic product storage capacity and distribution infrastructure.

The distribution infrastructure, according to the company, was able to reach all parts of the country via its four storage sites across Accra, Tema Ridge, Takoradi and Kumasi with 169 (m3) (169,000 liters) of capacity.

A statement issued by the company in Accra yesterday said the Takoradi Terminal supported the government’s policy to improve regional fuel supply, with the new gasoline and gas oil terminals adding 32,000m³ capacity.

Puma Energy, according to the statement, has also invested in 14 solar power generation systems at its service stations, depots and terminals in Ghana, an initiative that aims to reduce reliance on imported energy and help the country prepare for the future of energy.

The downstream petroleum industry in Ghana is deregulated, but the current global fuel price volatility is disproportionately impacting energy imports in African countries.

Specifically, it is impacting inflation, reducing foreign exchange reserves, and limiting the ability to secure fuel on the global markets. Alongside a robust storage and distribution system, these are also issues the government and regulators in Ghana are trying to proactively manage.

Puma Energy’s Head of Africa, Fadi Mitri, said, “Puma Energy has been able to invest in Ghana’s energy infrastructure thanks to its historically stable regulatory environment, and the country is seeing the benefits of our investment”.

On contribution to infrastructure for downstream operations, the statement said Puma Energy and its Parent have invested $450m in Ghana over the last decade.

On Puma Energy’s contribution to energy transition, the statement said the company was also diversifying its business by focusing more on transition fuels and clean energy solutions with an immediate focus on its B2B customers.

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