The Ministry of Finance is courting state-owned enterprises (SOEs) to offer themselves up for corporate ratings to enable them to borrow on their own balance sheets to finance projects.
“The SOEs, should all aim for ratings; corporate ratings. This can reduce the cost of borrowing. The energy sector especially, can take the lead so that they can issue energy bonds,” Mr Terkper stated at a meeting during which the Finance Ministry engaged the bosses of the SOEs on the economic turnaround story and how the SOEs could take advantage of it.
The meeting also briefed the SOEs on the Public Financial Management Act, 2016 (Act 921) and implications on their actions, inactions, their obligations and new rules of accounting and financial reporting.
Off government guarantee
As part of the debt management, the government is working towards weaning off SOEs from government balance sheet and allow them to stand on their own balance sheets.
According to Mr Terkper, the governments would use vehicles such as the Escrow Account and the Infrastructure Fund as a Guarantee Fund to back their credit transactions, rather than providing a direct government guarantee.
While admitting that, subsidies affect some of the SOEs negatively, others including the utilities did not also make good their loan obligations they contract with government guarantees, thus adding to the public debt stock which stood at GH¢109.8 billion or 65.9 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in July 2016.
The downside of the government policy to take the SOEs off its guarantee could have an initial implication of increasing the cost at which they borrow or finance projects.
Mr Terkper stressed, “that is where we should go”, adding that government guarantee would now be secondary. “We should set goals and look for strategies to make the SOEs sector more effective and efficient.”
A deputy governor of the Bank of Ghana, Mr Millison Narh, said,the central bank would continue to pursue monetary policies in support of fiscal policies to restore macroeconomic stability, which had started showing positive outcomes.
“There is the need for closer collaboration between the fiscal and monetary policy measures. For SOEs to become viable, the microeconomic environment must be strong, regulation and the legal framework must be well couched. Already, we have started seeing a gradual return to economic stability,” Mr Narh stated.