By Theo Acheampong
In the debate following Dr Bawumia's presentation on the economy today, my good friend William Nyarko put up a post quoting the good doctor as saying "66% of Ghana's debt since independence has been accumulated by President John Mahama in the last three years”.
So, what does the data tell us about Ghana’s public debt? As John Osae-Kwapong often says data doesn’t lie and its sexy keke, hence let’s allow the data speak for itself. Here we go!
1. Ghana’s total public debt stock stood at US$6.1 billion in 2000 (123.3% of GDP)
2. This increased to US$9.5 billion (33.6% of GDP) as at the end of December 2008.
3. Total debt stock at the end of December 2012 increased to US$21.5 billion (51% of GDP)
4. Total debt stock at the end of December 2015 was US$27.6 billion (72.9% of GDP)
5. There was a 55% increase in the total debt stock equivalent to US$3.5 billion from US$6.1 billion to US$9.5 billion over the eight years from 2000 to 2008.
That is, President Kufuor left US$9.5 billion of total debt (i.e. monetary value of all of Ghana’s debt since independence). Of this amount, the NPP component was US$3.5 billion.
6. Similarly, there was an 188% increase in the total debt stock equivalent to US$18.02 billion from US$9.5 billion to US$27.6 billion in the seven years from 2009 to 2015. Of this US$18 billion amount, President Atta-Mills accumulated US$7.7 billion (2009-2011) and President Mahama has added US$10.3 billion from 2011 to 2015 (or 6.1 billion from 2012 to 2015).
7. Using the 2008 US$9.5 billion total debt stock since independence as the comparative basis or reference year, it is easy to see that the current government has accumulated 64% of Ghana’s debt since independence - that is, 6.1/9.5 = 64%. This equates to 107% in the more pessimistic scenario if one were to extend the starting period back a year to 2011. Notes:
(1) Total public debt stock includes all the historical and legacy debt since independence.
(2) All data can be crosschecked from MoFA fiscal outturn reports, Bank of Ghana, Ghana Statistical Service and the IMF/World Bank's World Development Indicators. I downloaded these from there.
(3) I'm just an independent economist who has worked with similar data sets that Dr Bawumia used in his presentation yesterday.