Accra, Nov. 7, GNA - The 100 per cent multi-lateral debt forgiveness which would save the country 4.3 billion dollars would be implemented next year, President John Agyekum Kufuor announced on Monday. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) would implement its forgiveness in January, while the World Bank would do so in July. President Kufuor said this would create a lot of space, which the Government was determined to exploit purposely and efficiently, with the continued consultation with development partners whose advice had helped Ghana to turn the corner away from the economic doldrums of the past. "To the Government, the current situation is enabling the nation to see light at the end of the tunnel in our drive to attain middle income status within the next decade." President Kufuor was delivering the keynote address at the 12th Consultative Group Meeting between Ghana and its Development Partners at the Accra International Conference Centre. The two-day meeting has brought together officials of the World Bank, the donor community, United Nations Agencies, Ministers of State and Members of Parliament to deliberate on a number of issues including the Ghana Poverty Reduction Strategy II (GPRS II). The theme is: "Investing in People, Investing in Jobs". President Kufuor said with the significant reduction in the country's debt overhang, the net foreign receipts had been enhanced and the performance in exports improved.
Gross international reserves that stood at 200 million dollars in 2002 now stood at 1.6 billion dollars. The Paris Club as a result of the implementation of the Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative forgave the country two billion dollars outright, with a further two billion dollars to be forgiven in 20 instalments of 100 million dollars annually. President Kufuor said the Government would continue with the skilful political management of policies to sustain the goodwill and timely support of external donors that had underpinned the country's economic success. The economy has continued to grow, with real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) moving up from 3.7 per cent in 2001 to 4.2 per cent in 2002; 5.2 per cent in 2003 and 5.8 per cent in 2004. "These levels of growth were higher than programmed GPRS targets, especially, in each of the last two years. This year, it is realistically estimated that the rate will go beyond the six per cent mark," he said. President Kufuor said he was hopeful that if the oil market did not further worsen, "inflation will be within single digit by next year". Inflation fell steadily from a high rate of 42 per cent in 2001 to 11.8 per cent in 2004, only to be jolted back to 26 per cent in the course of this year as a result of upheaval in the international crude oil market. He said with increasing demands from both domestic and regional development imperatives, as envisaged by the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), Ghana required more financial and technical support from its partners including inflows of foreign direct investments. Foreign disbursements as at the end of last year amounted to 804.2 billion cedis, and for the first time in Ghana's history, there was 100 per cent disbursement of donor pledges made in support of the implementation of the GPRS in the last two consecutive years through the multi-donor support framework. Mr Joseph Henry Mensah, Senior Minister; said Government's goal of achieving middle income status would not come at the cost of human misery. Human resource, he said, was at the centre of its development agenda and a reasonable safe net would be provided for the poor in the society. Representatives of IMF, European Union, UN, United States and Canada gave the thumbs-up for Ghana's economic success story and pledged to sustain their partnership with country.