Claim: The Government of Ghana spokesperson on Governance and Security, Palgrave Boakye-Danquah, said the country’s total public debt as of the end of December 2020 was $49 billion.
Verdict: False. DUBAWA’s checks revealed that Ghana’s public debt in 2020 was $50.83 billion, representing an increase of 33.6% compared to the stock in 2019.
Ghana’s President, Nana Akufo-Addo, presented the State of the Nation (SONA) address on March 8, 2022, touting his government’s impressive work over the last seven years.
“Mr Speaker, we have spent money on urgent things, to build roads and bridges and schools, to train our young people and equip them to face a competitive world,” the President told the lawmakers.
Touching on the rising public debt in Ghana, the President said his government had not been “reckless in borrowing and spending.” He noted that, “…the debts we are servicing were not only contracted during the period of this administration.”
Reacting to the President’s speech on Accra-based TV3 on March 10, 2023, the Government’s Spokesperson on Governance and Security, Palgrave Boakye-Danquah, said the borrowing done by the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP), could not be described as “reckless” because of the evidence of projects littered across the country.
Watch the video here from minutes 40:19 to 41:26 on the YouTube channel TV3.
Comparing the debts accumulated by previous regimes, Mr Boakye Danquah said the total public debt of Ghana under President Akufo-Addo as of December 2020 was $49 billion.
“…we can come to the NPP [New Patriotic Party] government and President Nana Akufo-Addo. The total debt as of 2020 was $49 billion US dollars,” he said. Watch the video here from minutes 38:25 to 38:39, as posted on the YouTube channel of Accra-based TV3.
DUBAWA decided to investigate the claim because of the ongoing economic debate in Ghana stoked by the country’s economic challenges.
According to the March 2021 Public Debt Statistical Bulletin prepared by the Treasury and Debt Management Division of the Ministry of Finance, the total public debt of Ghana as of the end of December 2020 stood at GHS291.63 billion, which is equivalent to $50.83 billion. Refer to paragraph 1 of page 3 of the report here.
This figure comprised external debt of GHS141.80 billion ($24.7 billion) and domestic debt of GHS149.83 billion ($26.1 billion), representing 76.1% of the country’s gross domestic product and an increase of 33.6% compared to the stock in 2019. See paragraph 1 of page 3 of the report here.
Also, the Annual Public Debt Report for the 2020 Financial Year submitted to Parliament by the Majority leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, on March 29, 2021, re-echoed the position that Ghana’s total debt stock as of the end of December 2020, was $50.83 billion. Please refer to paragraph 21 of page 6 of the Report here as posted on the website of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning.
Similarly, the August 2021 Report of the Finance Committee of Parliament on the Annual Public Debt Report for the 2020 Financial Year pegged Ghana’s public debt in 2020 at $50.83 billion, equivalent to GHS291, 630.7 billion. See paragraph 4.2 of page 8 of the Report here.
The increase, the report noted, “resulted mainly from an increased fiscal deficit and primary balance deficit, exchange rate depreciation, disbursement of existing loans, and contracting of new loans.” Refer to paragraph 4.2 of page 8 of the Report here.
When asked about the source of his data, Mr Boakye Danquah directed DUBAWA to the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning website, which quoted $50.83 billion as the total public debt of Ghana.
According to data available at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning and Parliament’s Finance Committee, it would be inaccurate for anyone to claim that the total public debt of Ghana at the end of December 2020 was $49 billion.
The total public debt of Ghana for 2020 was $50.83 billion, equivalent to GHS291.63 billion. This figure had been confirmed by reports produced and published by the Finance Committee of Parliament and the Treasury and Debt Management Division of the Ministry of Finance.
Also, see the Annual Public Debt Report for the 2020 Financial Year presented to Parliament in March 2021.