Ghana to Default on Most External Debt as Economic Crisis Worsens

Ghana on Monday suspended payments on most of its external debt, effectively defaulting as the country struggles to plug its cavernous balance of payments deficit, Reuters reported. Its finance ministry said it will not service debts including its Eurobonds, commercial loans and most bilateral loans, calling the decision an "interim emergency measure", while some bondholders criticised a lack of clarity in the decision. The government "stands ready to engage in discussions with all of its external creditors to make Ghana's debt sustainable", the finance ministry said. The suspension of debt payments reflects the parlous state of the economy, which had led the government last week to reach a $3-billion staff-level agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Ghana had already announced a domestic debt exchange programme and said that an external restructuring was being negotiated with creditors. The IMF has said a comprehensive debt restructuring is a condition of its support. The country has been struggling to refinance its debt since the start of the year after downgrades by multiple credit ratings agencies on concerns it would not be able to issue new Eurobonds. That has sent Ghana's debt further into the distressed territory. Its public debt stood at 467.4 billion Ghanaian cedis ($55 billion as per Refinitiv Eikon data) in September, of which 42% was domestic. It had a balance of payments deficit of more than $3.4 billion in September, down from a surplus of $1.6 billion at the same time last year. Read more.
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