Ghana’s Official Creditors to Discuss $5.4 Billion Loan Restructuring for IMF Funding Approval

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JOHANNESBURG/ACCRA/LONDON, Jan 4 (Reuters) – Ghana’s official creditors are scheduled to meet on Monday to discuss restructuring some $5.4 billion in loans to the country, three sources told Reuters, a key step needed to secure its next tranche of funding from the International Monetary Fund.

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The bilateral lenders, including the governments of China and France who co-chair the Official Creditor Committee (OCC), hold around a quarter of Ghana’s $20 billion external debt earmarked for restructuring.

The meeting is again expected to focus on an agreement about a “cut-off date” – the date after which new loans from bilateral creditors will not be restructured, the sources with knowledge of the matter said. Defining this date has emerged as a stumbling block for Ghana in its debt rework.

Some creditors are said to prefer Dec. 31, 2022, as a cut-off date with Ghana having defaulted earlier that month, according to sources. However, others pushed for March 24, 2020, because that was when the Group of 20 introduced its debt service suspension initiative (DSSI) to help the world’s poorest countries cope with the fallout of the COVID crisis. Ghana did not participate in the DSSI.

In preparation for the Jan. 8 OCC meeting, the Paris Club of major creditor nations, which does not count China among its permanent members, will convene on Friday, two sources said.

The Paris Club this week shared a technical note with other bilateral creditors and multilateral lenders on Ghana, one of the sources said, adding that the group of rich nations is proposing December 2022 as the cut-off date, one source with direct knowledge said.

“Ghana is still about cut-off date, but creditors haven’t agreed yet,” the source said. “If the cut-off date is agreed, that means an agreement on debt restructuring is close.”

A spokesperson for the Paris Club declined to comment on meetings that have not yet taken place. Ghana’s finance ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The West African country, which produces gold, cocoa, and oil, needs to come to an agreement on a debt restructuring with its official creditors to secure the IMF executive board’s approval for the next $600 million payout from a $3 billion rescue loan.

This is because the Washington-based lender needs financing assurances that debt relief is being provided by bilateral creditors in accordance with the IMF programme.

Ghana, where a deep economic crisis has seen inflation and the government’s debt servicing costs spiral, asked a year ago for a bilateral debt restructuring under the Common Framework, a process set up during the COVID-19 pandemic by the G20 leading economies.

It is also in talks with overseas bondholders to restructure its more than $13 billion in international debt. Holders of the bonds include major global asset managers such as BlackRock, PIMCO, Vontobel, AllianceBernstein and Neuberger Berman.

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