IFC Loan: Gov't to issue statement
Finance minister, Mr. Osafo-Maafo (MP), will today deliver an address in Parliament on the state of the economy. He is expected to address the issue of the IFC loan. There is speculation too that he might be increasing the VAT and tax rates. A petrol price increase might also be on the cards. On the IFC loan, the minister is expected to reveal to Ghanaians the outcome of his recent visits abroad, during which he was engaged in final negotiations to secure the release of the first tranche of $350 million loan from the controversial International Finance Consortium (IFC). Unconfirmed sources indicate he'll insist the loan is genuine and will be delivered as promised despite the delay. The first tranche had been expected by October 31, based on the loan agreement which required that Ghana issues and deposits an unconditional sovereign Government Guarantee by July 31, for the first tranche of funds to be transferred approximately 12 weeks after receipt of the guarantee At the press conference on Thursday, October 3, 2002, President J.A. Kufuor promised a definitive statement by the government would be issued to the public soon (is this the one?). In the press conference release, the president stated: "at every stage of the negotiations, government has taken extreme care to ensure that they were fair and above reproach. The Minister of Finance and the Governor of the Bank of Ghana have been aided by Lawyers and experts throughout". Meanwhile, the Deputy Government’s Spokesman, Mr. Kofi Amponsah-Bediako has called on Ghanaians not to panic over the misgivings being expressed in certain international and local circles about the loan. He said the government took due diligence in negotiating for the loan” and when the results begin to show, we will all see whether we are telling the truth or not”. The deputy government spokesperson expressed concern about the way the whole facility has been politicized. “The truth would come out when the money starts rolling in,” he continued. However, the senior minister, J.H Mensah and Governor of the Bank of Ghana, Paul Acquah, who were deeply involved in the initial negotiations, have both refused to comment. Attempts to reach some ministers, who vigorously defended the loan, Kwamena Bartels, Mrs Cecilia Bannerman and the president's brother-in-law, Dr Osei Akoto (Special Advisor to the Minister) have proved futile. Professor Eddie Ayensu, the man who brought the deal to the government was not available for comment. Is this the end of a dream or the beginning of “the mother of all loans”?