Ghana’s debt stock rose to US$25.6 billion or GH¢97.2 billion in December last year, equivalent to 72.9 per cent of the year’s total economic output, measured by gross domestic product (GDP).
Data released by the Bank of Ghana (BoG) last Saturday showed that out of the total debt stock at the time, domestic debt amounted to GH¢39.4 billion (29.5 per cent of GDP) while the rest, GH¢57.8 billion (43.4 per cent of GDP), was external debt.
That means that in cedi terms, the national debt burden grew by 27.7 per cent between December 2014, when it was GH¢76.1 billion (67.1 per cent of GDP), and December last year, when it peaked at GH¢97.2 billion.
In dollar terms, however, it went up by seven per cent from US$23.8 billion in 2014 to US$25.6 billion last year.
The variation in the movement of the debt in cedi and dollar terms reflects the sharp decline in the value of the former against the major trading currencies in 2015.
In that year, the cedi lost some 28 per cent of its value to the dollar as a result of declining foreign exchange, among other challenges within the period.
Export earnings decline
The data from the central bank was released ahead of a press conference by its Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) today to announce the direction of its benchmark rate, the policy rate.
The announcement will precede a meeting of the committee, chaired by the Governor of the BoG, Dr Henry Kofi Wampah that will review key economic happenings in the country in the first quarter of the year.
The data further showed that export earnings declined last year as a result of similar declines in two of the country’s export items — gold and oil.
It showed that by December last year, total export earnings were US$2.56 billion, down from US$2.88 billion in March the same year.
Earnings from cocoa exports, which led the pack of export revenue, were US$834 million, while those from gold and oil were US$730.5 million and US$417 million, respectively.
The strong growth in cocoa revenue resulted from a 13.1 per cent increase in cocoa prices on the international market.
Gross national assets
The data further showed that imports, however, widened to US$3.5 billion as of December last year. They comprised US$3.05 billion of non-oil imports and US$450.5 million of oil imports.
The strong growth in imports, as against declining export earnings, resulted in a trade deficit of US$940.7 million, equivalent to 2.4 per cent of GDP, within the period.
It showed that gross foreign assets, which measure the country’s ability to finance international payments, were valued at US$5.4 billion in March this year, equivalent to 3.4 months of import cover, from US$5.88 billion in December last year, which was equivalent to 3.5 months of import cover.
It ended last year at US$5.88 billion, enough to cover 3.5 months of imports at the time.