Ghana’s ruling party lawmakers call for sack of finance minister Ken Ofori-Atta

Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo addresses participants of the “G20 Investment Summit – German Business and the CwA Countries 2019” on the sidelines of a Compact with Africa (CwA) in Berlin , Germany.

A majority of Ghana’s ruling party parliamentarians on Tuesday asked the president to sack finance minister Ken Ofori-Atta and his deputy, in order to “restore hope in the financial sector”.

Ghana is facing its worst economic crisis in a generation. Last week was the cedi currency’s worst in 15 years, falling nearly 20% against the dollar, and consumer inflation is hovering at a 21-year high of 37.2%.

With nearly half of all government revenue going towards interest payments, concerns that Ghana might need to restructure its debt in order to secure a deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have further strained market confidence.

Speaking on behalf of 80 of the 137 NPP members, Andy Appiah-Kubi said the members of parliament would not take part in any business of government and would boycott budget hearings until its demands are met.

Parliament is set to begin debating the 2023 budget in the coming days.

“We have voiced our concerns to the president…without any positive response,” Appiah-Kubi said. “Until such persons are made to resign or otherwise removed from office, we…will not participate in any business of government.”

Meanwhile, NDC parliamentarians on Tuesday said they would soon table a motion for Ofori-Atta’s impeachment, without specifying when.

Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo already faces a hung parliament, with membership split down the middle between the two major parties. Even single abstentions often hold back ruling party proposals from becoming legislation.

The West African gold, cocoa and oil-producing country is negotiating a support programme from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in a bid to reduce economic hardship that has spurred several rounds of protests.

Ofori-Atta, a former banker before being named finance minister in 2016, had repeatedly pledged not to seek IMF assistance before finally engaging the Fund in July.

Yields on Ghana’s dollar-denominated sovereign bonds spiked to new highs on news of the parliamentarians seeking to oust the finance minister, with the 2042 maturity climbing the most to 33.49% before slipping back to 33.39% as of 1145 GMT, TradeWeb data showed.

“Markets will likely view any change with the potential to slow IMF negotiations as a negative,” said Razia Khan, chief economist for Africa and the Middle East at Standard Chartered.

“Speedy arrangement of an IMF programme is of the essence, and the current team has been closely involved in those negotiations,” she added.

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