The Ghana Catholic Bishops Conference says the government must find solutions to get the country out of its current economic quagmire, supporting calls for the government to properly engage stakeholders while attempting to implement a Domestic Debt Structuring program.
The Bishops Conference expressed worry over the position adopted by the government amidst the economic turmoil, which has resulted in strong reactions from Ghanaians.
A statement issued and signed by the President of the Bishops’ Conference and Bishop of the Sunyani Diocese, Most Rev. Matthew Kwasi Gyamfi noted that “the conference has been following with keen interest and concern, recent happenings in the country on the economic front and its impact on Ghanaian and finds “it necessary to add our voices to calls on government to take steps to find solutions that are less burdensome on Ghanaians, and yet sustainable to get the country out of this economic quagmire.”
The Bishops Conference was of the view that “it is not in any Ghanaian’s interest to stand in the way of government’s efforts to put the country back on sound economic growth, create opportunities for every business to thrive through the debt restructuring as a panacea to obtaining the IMF bail-out”
“We wish to observe however that, the far-reaching consequences of the proposed domestic debt restructuring programme on the financial sector (banks and insurance companies in particular), and the cascading implications on individual holders of government instruments, once believed to be the safest investments, are too damaging, not only for investors but also their effects on the bargaining power of households and on the poor,” the statement said.
The Catholic Prelates believe the strong resistance by Ghanaians to the debt restructuring from domestic resources to meet the IMF bailout conditions is a natural response from those directly or indirectly affected since the options for the government to resolve the economic crisis appear limited.
The Bishops called on the government to as a matter of urgency “involve all stakeholders, particularly individual and financial institutions directly affected, and carry them along in addressing the problem.”
They were also of the position that, the government must present a posture that is consistent with the fact that the country is in dire straits or crisis.
The statement also outlined immediate actions the Bishop’s Conference expects the government to take. “These include but certainly not limited to avoiding the reported expected expenditure overruns in the 2023 Budget; drastic government expenditure control by reducing the number of government appointees; suspending non-essential projects; and a review of the free SHS policy.”
The Bishops further urged the “government to vigorously pursue some debt forgiveness and/or deferment, where feasible so that if at all, the domestic debt restructuring burden could be reduced drastically and its impact on stakeholders minimized.”
“While we expect the government to consider these suggestions, we humbly appeal to Ghanaians to appreciate the current economic situation and understand that there will be difficulties in the coming months while the problem is solved permanently.” The Bishops added.