Claim: A legislator with Ghana’s governing New Patriotic Party (NPP), Paul Twum Barimah, says none of the lawmakers with the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) “questioned” the $750 million loan facilities newly approved for the government.
Verdict: Misleading. Data available to DUBAWA, including documentary evidence, showed some leading legislators with the minority in Parliament, including the former Minority leader, Haruna Iddrisu, and the former Deputy Minister of Power, John Jinapor, questioned the propriety of the new loan agreements at a time when Ghana has been described as a debt-distressed nation.
Ghana’s Parliament, on May 2, 2023, approved seven loan agreements amounting to $750 million for the government. The package includes the $150 million loan facility to finance the West Africa Food System Resilience Programme Phase 2 under the Multipurpose Programme Approach.
This development comes when the country is restructuring its domestic and external debt. The March 2023 Summary of Economic and Financial Data published by the Bank of Ghana had shown debt was at GH¢575 billion as of November 2022. See page 7 of the Report.
Concerned about the economic situation of some debt-distressed developing countries such as Ghana, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has doubled its plea to the wealthiest countries, particularly those in Europe, to support weaker economies to restructure their debts to ease the economic hardship on their citizens.
Barely 24 hours after Ghana’s lawmakers approved the $750 million loan facilities, a section of Ghanaians are questioning the resolve of the opposition NDC to serve as a check on the governing NPP. See the comments under the post made by Parliament on its Facebook page.
Although the Chief Whip of the opposition lawmakers, Governs Kwame Agbodza, has explained the Minority opposed the loan facilities, the Member of Parliament (MP) for Dormaa East, Paul Twum Barimah, said there was no opposition in the Chamber during the approval of the loans.
“So far as we know, we all support[ed] the loans. It was by voice vote; did you see anyone on his feet to question the loans? Nobody did that, not even their leadership [minority] nor any member, and if you read the report, it was a unanimous report,” the lawmaker told Accra-based Citi FM.
Given the recent exchanges between the governing NPP and the opposition NDC over Ghana’s rising public debt, DUBAWA decided to probe the claim to establish whether the new loan facilities received unanimous approval from both sides of the legislature.
In probing the claim, DUBAWA reviewed news reports and documentary evidence on proceedings in Parliament on the day the loan agreements were approved.
DUBAWA also contacted the Member of Parliament (MP) for Dormaa East, Paul Twum Barimah, on the matter.
The evidence available to DUBAWA showed the former Minority leader, Haruna Iddrisu, questioned the propriety of the new loan agreements. He stated that when Ghanaians were subjected to untold hardship due to the “excessive borrowing” of the present government, it was inappropriate to access these loans.
“The Parliament of the Republic of Ghana, represented by its 275 elected MPs, even at this age and time of unprecedented economic difficulties arising out of excessive borrowing which comes at a cost to the Ghanaian taxpayer, the Parliament of Ghana is being called upon to approve a loan amount of $150 million,” the former Minister of Employment and Labour Relations said.
See the video of proceedings uploaded on YouTube by Accra-based TV3 from minutes 0:47 to 1:54.
Mr Iddrisu told his fellow legislators, “today Ghana is not only debt distressed. We are currently between 98 to 103% of debt to GDP ratio of borrowing to the level of GH¢576 billion to GH¢600 billion that this House is not minded that there must be a stop to borrowing.”
The Tamale South MP was forthright that “there must be a stop to this, and this House must provide that leadership for the Ghanaian people.”
Also, the former Deputy Minister of Power, John Abdulai Jinapor, was clear that the opposition lawmakers “will not support the $150 million loan facility” during discussions on the floor of Parliament. See the video posted on YouTube by Accra-based Ghanaweb starting from minutes 0:04 to 1:51.
“…the minority on the committee [Parliament’s Finance Committee] thought that government was overborrowing, [and that the] government was putting the economy in a state where on the assumption of office the NDC will find it very difficult to repay a lot of these loans…[and] that is why based on principle we felt that government should pull the breaks, consult further and do the needful,” the MP for Yapei Kusawgu constituency said.
When confronted with the documentary evidence during a telephone conversation with DUBAWA on May 6, 2023, the MP for Dormaa East, Paul Twum Barimah, admitted some opposition lawmakers opposed the loan facilities contrary to his earlier claim.
“I know Haruna Iddrisu, John Jinapor, and a few others were on their feet to speak against the loan,” he told DUBAWA.
He, however, said he had expected the minority lawmakers to have carried out a string of positive steps, such as walk-out, to register their discontent as they had done in the past.
“They did this during the approval of the E-Levy, so why didn’t they do that during the loans approval if indeed they are opposed to it?” Mr Twum Barimah quizzed.
Despite Mr Barimah’s explanation, it would be misleading to claim that the opposition lawmakers did not question the recently approved $750 million loan facilities by Parliament.
Ghana’s Parliament has approved seven loan agreements totalling $750 million for the government to enhance public sector reforms, food security, COVID-19 response measures, and provide for digital acceleration.
However, the minority in Parliament was against the new loan agreements, despite a claim to the contrary.