Ghana’s credit rating downgraded to “junk”

Ghana’s credit rating has been downgraded further into “junk” territory by Standard & Poor’s on concerns that access to financing will continue to be a struggle even if the nation enters an International Monetary Fund programme.

S&P highlighted that despite a successful international bond issue earlier, the country has gross external financing needs of 137 per cent of current account receipts and reserves next year, and therefore relegated Ghana one notch to B-, six levels below investment grade today.

The government is currently negotiating with the IMF for an economic reform and bailout package, and the rating agency said it had a stable outlook on Ghana’s rating on the assumption that it would strike a deal that could tide it over until new oil and gas production comes on line.

Nonetheless, S&P’s analysts sounded a cautious note on whether an IMF programme would prove successful.

“We think the Ghanaian government will find the conditions attached to an IMF programme hard to meet, particularly with parliamentary and presidential elections coming up in late 2016.”

Meanwhile when Reuters contacted Finance Minister Seth Terkper on the latest development, he said, S&P’s downgrade Ghana’s sovereign rating by one notch “is a surprise and does not reflect recent government progress in stabilizing the macro economy.”

Terkper said he was optimistic the country could regain its previous rating and the economy could return to a higher rate of growth than the 6.9 percent projected for this year by the government’s statistical service.

The economy is weighed down by problems including a high budget deficit and rising inflation.

Credit: FT and Reuters