Ghana’s gross international reserves stood at $7.68 billion at the end of June 2022, said Mr Kwaku Agyeman Kwarteng, Chairman of Parliament’s Finance Committee.
Speaking in Parliament, Mr Kwarteng said the country’s total international reserves stood at $9.7 billion at the end of December 2021, which declined to $7.68 billion at the end of June 2022, according to the Bank of Ghana (BOG).
He said this in an attempt to correct parts of the Finance Committee’s report, which was tabled before the House and subsequently approved a loan facility between the Government of Ghana and the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) for a maximum of $750 million. Financial capital and growth-related spending in the 2022 budget statement.
“In that report, Mr Speaker, we reported that the BoG’s international reserves had fallen from $9 billion to $3 billion,” Mr Kwarteng said.
“Mr Speaker, it was a mistake. It was an unfortunate oversight.”
He said, in terms of net international reserves, the country closed December 2021 with $6.08 billion, a position that fell to $3.58 billion at the end of June 2022.
“Mr Speaker, I regret the error, and I request the clerk at the table that all records be corrected,” Mr Kwarteng said.
However, the finance committee chairman’s attempt to amend the report adopted by the House using a statement did not go down well with the House’s minority caucus.
Dr. Cassiel Ato Forson, Ranking Member, Finance Committee, said he was not aware that a statement could amend a committee’s report, after it was received and subsequently approved by the House.
“Mr Speaker, the $3 billion in the committee’s report is not just off the charts, it’s coming from the minister responsible for finance,” Dr Forson said.
“Mr. Speaker, I was at that meeting, the minister responsible for finance, who made this statement.”
He said if for some reason, what was in their records was different from what the central bank had, then the central bank should issue a statement to correct the error.
He urged the chairman to leave the matter to the BoG for rectification.
He said, Article 184 (1) of the 1992 Constitution states that “the Committee of Parliament responsible for financial arrangements shall monitor the receipt and payment or transfer of foreign currency by the Bank of Ghana within and outside Ghana and shall report the same to Parliament once every six months.”
He said that since the Eighth Parliament assumed power, the Finance Committee has not had the opportunity to report to Parliament on the country’s foreign exchange reserves; He also said that it was the responsibility of the BoG to submit the report to the committee so that it could report to the House.
Alhaji Mohammed Mubarak Muntaka, Minority Chief Whip, who called on the Finance Committee to do due diligence before presenting their reports to the House, urged the Chairman to withdraw his statement.
He said: “If we let the statement stand, the repercussions are going to be chain reactions.”
Mr. Alexander Kwamina Afenyo-Merkin, the Deputy Majority Leader, said this is not the first time that an error has been rectified in the House; Noting that “and he (Mr Kwarteng) did it in good faith.”
He clearly stated that previous reports that the country was so bad, instead of corrections, should bring joy to the House, that the country was not as bad as they thought.
He agreed with the ranking member that the House encourages the BoG to verify the Chairman’s statement.
Mr. Osei Kei-Mensah-Bonsu, the Majority Leader, said on Monday, July 25, the Minister of Finance will be in the House to present the Mid-Year Review Budget Statement and Economic Policy and Government’s Supplementary Estimates for 2022. House, and the Minister will speak on the matter.
Mr Andrew Asiamah Amoko, the Second Deputy Speaker, presiding as Speaker, said the leadership of the House would meet to resolve the issue.