Ghana's Debt Stock Rises To GH�23.6 Billion

Ghana�s total public debt as at the end of 2011 stood at GH�23.6 billion, equivalent to 44.2 per cent of Gross Domestic Product compared to GH�17.6 billion (38.1 per cent of GDP) in 2010, Central Bank Governor Mr Kwesi Amissah-Arthur said in Accra on Wednesday. Speaking at a press conference to announce the policy rate, Mr Amissah-Arthur said the stock of domestic debt increased by 43 per cent year-on-year to GH�11.84 billion in 2011, from GH�8.3 billion in 2010. He said the external debt stock also increased by 20.1 per cent over the end of December 2010 position to $7.6 billion (GH�11.77 billion) and that "Cumulatively, the total public debt was GH�23.6 billion�. On government fiscal operations, Mr Amissah-Arthur said total revenue and grants in 2011 amounted to GH�10.7 billion, compared to GH�7.5 billion in 2010. He said import duties, import VAT, petroleum taxes and NHIL receipts accounted for GH�3.5 billion. Mr. Amissah-Arthur said income and property taxes were GH�3.8 billion while domestic VAT, excise duty and NHIL amounted to GH�1.3 billion and programmed grants of GH�340.6 million also accrued. On the other hand, he said, total expenditure was GH�12.7 billion in 2011, compared to GH�9.2 billion in 2010 and wages, salaries and related expenditures totalled GH�5.2 billion. Mr Amissah-Arthur said: �Fiscal operations in 2011, therefore, resulted in a narrow budget deficit of GH�2.1 billion, and was financed mainly through the issuance of domestic bonds. He said: the Net Domestic Financing of GH�2.1 billion was within the programmed target of GH�2.4 billion,�he said. Mr Amissah-Arthur said on external front, the overall balance of payments recorded a surplus of $546.5 million in 2011, significantly down from the GH�1.5 billion surplus recorded in 2010. He said: �The decline was due to the widening of the current account deficit. The current account balance worsened in 2011 as a result of increased net outflows in the Services and Income Account, which rose to $3.1 billion in 2011 from $2.1 billion in 2010�. Mr Amissah-Arthur said total merchandise exports grew by 60.6 per cent in 2011 to $12.7 billion, supported by oil exports and favourable commodity prices. He said exports of gold amounted to $4.9 billion while cocoa beans totalled $2 billion and the value of crude oil exports was $2.7 billion over the same period. Mr Amissah-Arthur said total merchandise imports grew by 46.2 per cent in 2011 to $15.9 billion. He said of the total, oil imports were $3.3 billion compared with $2.2 billion recorded in 2010. Mr Amissah-Arthur said crude oil imports amounted to $1.4 billion while imports of refined oil products were $1.7 billion and gas imports were estimated at $172.8 million. He said total non-oil imports amounted to $12.7 billion and by end-use, capital imports were $2.7 billion, intermediate imports amounted to $6.1 billion, consumption goods, $3.0 billion and others constituted $900 million. Mr Amissah-Arthur said the Capital and Financial Account surplus improved to $4.5 billion in 2011 from a surplus of $4.3 billion in 2010, driven by net inflows of private capital investments mainly into the oil sector. He said Gross International Reserves of the Bank of Ghana improved to $5.4 billion in 2011 from $4.7 billion in 2010. Mr Amissah-Arthur said this, however, declined to GH�4.6 billion as at January 2012 due to the increased demand for foreign exchange resulting from the higher than normal surge in seasonal demand to support trade. He said Ghana experienced premature redemptions by some foreign investors.