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Ghana's Economy At Risk – Fitch

By Daily Guide
Seth Terkper, Minister of FinanceSeth Terkper, Minister of Finance
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Ghana's economy is said to be at risk due to the tightening of liquidity conditions in the global financial markets.

The country's current vulnerability is as a result of its reliance on short-term capital flows to finance large current account and also budget deficits.

A London-based credit ratings agency, Fitch, which made this known in its latest report, said Ghana is exposed with an expected budget deficit of 10.3 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for the fiscal year, funded largely by domestic debt issuance (68 percent) of which foreigners hold around 26 percent.

Fitch's report, titled: 'Sub-Saharan Africa To Weather US Fed Tapering,' said South Africa and Kenya are also among nations that are at risk.

'South Africa, Kenya and Ghana are not alone among sub-Saharan Africa countries having large current-account and budget deficits, but vulnerability is mitigated in other countries,' the report said.

The report stated that 'for example, in Mozambique, much of the current-account deficit is financed through foreign direct investment while Rwanda receives substantial concessional funding.'

It noted also that speculation about when the Fed will start tapering its $85 billion-a-month monetary stimulus programme has weighted on emerging-market currencies in countries that rely on short-term flows into their bond and equity markets to fund deficits.

However, it said countries in Sub-Saharan Africa region would still be less vulnerable to Fed tapering and monetary tightening than more mainstream emerging markets.

This, Fitch said, was due to external financing requirements and the largely non-concessional nature of their foreign debt.

'Sub-Saharan Africa is also shielded by financial markets which are not as globally integrated and improved reserve covers', it added.

The report said stronger growth prospects supportive of foreign direct investment will also provide a needed buffer for the region.

Fitch said while Ghana's cedi lost 13 percent against the dollar this year, South Africa's rand weakened by 16 percent while the Kenyan shilling retreated by 1 percent.

Ghana's fiscal shortfall in the first seven months of 2013 was 6.3 percent of GDP, compared to a target of 5.6 percent, the Bank of Ghana (BoG) said.

Kenya's current-account gap widened to $4.7 billion in May from $3.84 billion a year earlier, the Central Bank of Kenya said.

By Cephas Larbi

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