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Ghana IMF Bailout Expected

FILE: Kristalina Georgieva, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), speaks during an interview in Berlin. Taken Nov. 29, 2022.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Ghana are expected to reach a staff-level agreement on a loan deal by Tuesday at the latest, said three sources with knowledge of the ongoing talks.

Two sources said that the IMF program was expected to be an extended credit facility, which provides financial assistance to countries with drawn out balance of payments issues.

One of those sources and a third source said that major hurdles in the negotiations were overcome last week, which had sped up the process.

Finance Minister Kenneth Ofori-Atta has said he is hoping for a relief package of up to $3 billion, possibly over a three-year period, as the West African country faces its worst economic crisis in a generation.

Ghana turned to the IMF for help in July, and an IMF team is currently in the country until Tuesday.

"I expect the staff level agreement to clarify the missing details on debt restructuring, both local and external, since the government’s communication on it could have been clearer and more coherent over the last few weeks," said Gergely Urmossy, emerging market strategist at Societe Generale.

"After a couple of quarters if we see that the primary budget is headed towards a surplus, especially in a sustainable way, investors’ appetite for Ghanaian assets will increase, and multilateral lenders will be more inclined to offer new financing lines."

The government has begun restructuring its debt this week by rolling out a plan to swap $10.5 billion in local bonds for new ones.

If a domestic debt rework is "done in a coherent manner, with the support of the IMF and the local banking system, the country will be in a significantly better position because it addresses the near term external liquidity challenges," said Carmen Altenkirch, Aviva Investors emerging markets sovereign analyst.

The government has not yet announced plans for a foreign debt restructuring. Creditors are getting ready though, with two sources telling Reuters a steering committee of dollar debt holders will soon be announced.

"After December 2020, Ghana's government did not go to the IMF and did not slash budget expenditure," said Charlie Robertson, global chief economist at Renaissance Capital. "Then higher global borrowing costs in 2022 were the catalyst for its default on domestic debt."