© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: People walk on the street around Kwame Nkrumah circle in Accra, Ghana, December 2, 2016. REUTERS/Luc Gnago/File Photo
ACCRA (Reuters) – Ghana began talks with the International Monetary Fund on Monday for an IMF-supported lending programme, the government said in a statement, in a bid to reduce economic hardship that spurred street protests.
The IMF staff team is discussing policies and reforms with officials at Ghana’s finance ministry and central bank after the West African country requested a loan from the Fund in July.
The government of Ghana, a major gold and cocoa producer, has been struggling to tame galloping inflation, reduce public debt and shore up the local currency. Its balance-of-payments deficit swelled to nearly $2.5 billion by the end of June from around $935 million in March.
The IMF mission is scheduled to last until Oct. 7.
“A key pre-requisite for a programme is confirmation that Ghana’s debt is on a sustainable path,” the Ministry of Finance said, adding that a Debt Sustainability Analysis was ongoing.
The government is also putting together a post Covid-19 economic programme that will form the basis for negotiations with the IMF. The programme will aim to ensure debt and macroeconomic stability through key structural reforms and social protection, the statement added without further detail.
Ghana’s central bank rescheduled its upcoming interest rate decision to Oct. 7 from Sept. 26 last week to coincide with the end of the mission.