Claim: Time series of Ghana’s public debt to GDP ratio
Source: Presidency of the Republic of Ghana
Researched by Gifty Tracy Aminu
The official Facebook page of the Presidency of the Republic of Ghana – Jubilee House – has posted several visual cards to provide relevant economic information and some clarity to the public on the government’s decision to seek an IMF bailout programme.
One of the visual cards (21) shared by the Jubilee House Facebook page to its more than 100 thousand followers claimed that Ghana’s public debt to Gross Domestic Production (GDP) ratio at the end of 2021 stood at 76.6%.
According to the government: “Public debt to GDP ratio increased from 54.2% in 2017 to 61.2% in 2019 to 74.4% in 2020 and increased further to 76.6% at the end of 2021.”
But how accurate are the figures? This fact-check report seeks to verify:
- Ghana’s public debt stock at the end of 2017
- Ghana’s public debt stock at the end of 2018
- Ghana’s public debt stock at the end of 2019
- Ghana’s public debt stock at the end of 2020
- Ghana’s public debt stock at the end of 2021
The annual public debt report for the 2017 financial year presented to Parliament in March 2018 by the Finance Ministry(MOFEP)y states that “the total public debt to GDP ratio, which had increased consistently to about 73.1% as at the end of 2016, declined to 69. 85% by the end of 2017.”
The Ghana Statistical Service has since rebased its economic calculations from the base year of 2006 to 2013 – which has since impacted the calculation of the country’s debt to GDP ratio.
The subsequent annual public debt report for the 2019 financial year confirms that “as at end-December 2019, the total gross public debt outstanding stood at GH¢217,990.7 million. As a percentage of GDP, the debt-to-GDP ratio at end-December 2019 was 63%, up from 57.6% at end-December 2018.”
However, the Bank of Ghana(BoG) in its Monetary Policy Report (January 2021) stated that total public debt as a percentage of GDP as of December 2019 was 62.38%.
“Gross public debt, as at the end of December 2020, stood at GH₵291.63 billion (US$50.83 billion), representing 76.1 percent of GDP and an increase of 33.6% compared to the stock in 2019,” the 2020 Public Debt Statistical Bulletin by the Finance Ministry has stated.
Meanwhile, the summary of economic and financial data presented by the Bank of Ghana in May 2022 states that Ghana’s total debt to GDP ratio at the end of 2021 was 76.6% – despite an earlier report by the BoG pegging the ratio at 80.1%.
Ghana’s public debts/GDP
|Year||Jubilee House figures||Verified Data|
Source: BoG/ MoF
The debt to GDP ratios for 2017, 2019 and 2020 published by the Jubilee House are inaccurate. Meanwhile, the debt to GDP ratio at the end of 2021 of 76.6% is correct.