Ghana's external debt has declined from 120.5 per cent in 2001 ($6,325.6 million) to about 17.6 per cent ($2,637 million) at the end of September 2007.
Finance and Economic Planning Minister, Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu, who disclosed this last Thursday when he presented the 2008 budget to Parliament, attributed the positive trend to the cancellation of debt granted by external partners.
He noted that the total public external and domestic debt was expected to be at the equivalent of 48.5 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) at the end of December 2007.
"We wish to emphasise that all the macroeconomic gains have been achieved in the face of rising crude oil prices and the energy crisis.”
However, he said, in spite of the relatively strong macroeconomic stability achieved over the years, the outturn of the 2006 budget indicated that the fiscal situation came under severe stress.
Hon. Baah-Wiredu said the overall fiscal outturn in 2006 resulted in an overall budget deficit equivalent to 7.8 per cent of GDP, against a budget target of 4.5 per cent of GDP.
Domestic financing of the budget was a net borrowing of 4.1 per cent of GDP, against a budget target of 0.2 per cent of GDP.
The domestic primary balance for the year was equivalent to 4.9 per cent of GDP, against a budget estimate of a deficit equivalent to 1.4 per cent of GDP.
The Finance Minister stated further that total receipts, including domestic revenue, donor grants, foreign loans and HIPC relief for 2006, amounted to GH¢4,331.7 million, equivalent to 37.7 per cent of GDP.
This was about 0.3 per cent lower than the budget estimate for 2006.
Domestic revenue, made up of tax and non-tax revenue, amounted to GH¢2,556.9 million, against a budget estimate of GH¢2,643.8 million. This indicates an increase of 10.4 per cent over the outturn for 2005.
He said total tax revenue for the 2006 fiscal year was GH¢2,326.3 million (20.2 per cent of GDP), against a budget estimate of GH¢2,421.4 million, equivalent to 21.6 per cent of GDP.
The underperformance in tax revenue was mainly due to lower outturn of company taxes, import VAT and import duties, the Minister indicated.
Non-Tax Revenue contributed an amount of GH¢92.3 million, 29.8 per cent higher than the Budget target of GH¢71.1 million.
Total grant disbursements amounted to GH¢634.9 million, 17.5 per cent below the budget estimate of GH¢769.7 million.
Multilateral HIPC Assistance was 37.8 per cent below the budget target, while programme grants also fell short of target by 4.0 per cent. The outturn for project grants was GH¢228.5 million against a budget target of GH¢300.0 million.
Hon Baah-Wiredu said total loans received for 2006 was GH¢460.1 million, against a budget estimate of GH¢670.0 million. Of this amount, project loans amounted to GH¢299.4 million, while the outturn for programme loans was GH¢160.7 million.
By Felix Dela Klutse