Oil import bill saw a sharp decline of 66.1 per cent in the first half of the year, Dr Paul Acquah Governor of the Bank of Ghana, said on Tuesday. Speaking at a press conference after a meeting of the Monetary Policy Committee, Dr Acquah said an estimated US$449.61 million was spent on oil during the period compared with US$1,326.49 million for the same period of 2008.
"This decline is explained by the impact of a significant change in the hydro/thermal mix in the generation of electricity in favour of hydro, as well as some demand contraction, and lower prices on the international market," he said. Dr Acquah said the total import bill for the first half of the year fell sharply in line with the compression in oil imports. Total merchandised imports was US$3.8 billion compared with US$5 billion for the same period in 2008, a decline in year-on-year terms of 22.6 per cent.
He said as a result, the merchandise trade deficit narrowed to US$868.69 million, compared with US$2.1 billion for the same period in 2008. Dr Acquah said there were relative declines in all the various categories of imports relative to the levels recorded for the first six months in 2008. He said "Non-oil import slowed down significantly during the first half of the year. Non-oil imports amounted to US$3.4 billion which represented a decline of 6.8 per cent.
This is in contrast with a growth of 39.8 per cent over the same period last year. Dr. Acquah said capital goods declined by about 11 per cent to US$717.13 million while consumption goods and intermediate goods fell by 5.5 per cent to US$738.04 million and 3.6 per cent to US$1,633.11 million respectively. He said the proportion of capital and intermediate goods in total imports remained virtually unchanged at 68 per cent over the period, he said.
Touching on exports, Dr Acquah said provisional estimates indicated that total merchandise exports for the first half amounted to US$3.0 billion, an increase of 5.6 per cent, compared with US$2.8 billion for the same period 2008.
He said exports of cocoa beans and products for the first half of the year amounted to US$1,060.97 million, a 16.6 per cent increase compared with US$909.96 million for the same period in 2008. Dr Acquah said cumulative cocoa purchases for the 2008/2009 main crop season as at June 4, 2009 amounted to 634,256 tonnes against a forecast of 600,000 tonnes for the entire crop season,.
This compares with 663,800 tonnes for the same period in the 2007/2008 season. He indicated that gold export was US$1.2 billion compared with US$1.1 billion over the corresponding period of 2008, an annual growth of 1.2 per cent, reflecting mainly volume growth as average price declined by 0.8 per cent during the period. Dr Acquah said gold mining companies for the first six months of the year repatriated US$469.64 million, compared to US$370.85 million for the same period last year.
Diamond export is estimated at 157,132 carats (US$3.09 million) compared with 408,425 carats (US$29.50 million) for the same period in 2008. Non-traditional exports for the first half of the year amounted to US$610.65 million, compared with US$587.47 million for the same period in 2008, representing a growth of 5.6 percent. On remittances, Dr Acquah said the first half of 2009 amounted to US$4.23 billion, which represents 1.3 per cent decline from the level recorded for the same period last year.
Of the total inward transfers during the period, US$728.29 million (or 17.2 per cent) accrued to individuals, compared with US$822.76 million (19.2 percent) for the same period in 2008. Gross international reserves position at the end of June 2009 was US$1.7 billion, representing 1.49 months cover of imports of goods and services. 21 July 09
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