Pandemic financial response ignored poor countries’ concerns, says Ghana minister

The response of rich countries and multilateral institutions to the pandemic’s financial impact on poor countries was inadequate and ignored the concerns of governments and the private sector, said Ghana’s finance minister.

Ken Ofori-Atta argued that measures to provide debt relief during the pandemic, such as the debt service suspension initiative, did not take into account the views of developing countries or private sector lenders. He said the DSSI did not reduce the amount of debt owed, while participating countries did not ask for relief from the private sector for fear of losing access to commercial debt markets.

“The west should hang its head in shame,” Ofori-Atta told the Financial Times in an interview. “There was a complete distance between the resources available and what was applied [beyond advanced economies] to a problem that was global.”

To address the problem, he called for a rethink of the global financial architecture led by the World Bank, the IMF and other institutions set up during and after the second world war. “We need to seriously evaluate whether the rules laid down [then] are the most appropriate going forward,” he said.

A downturn in economic output and tax revenue caused by the pandemic took a heavy toll on the public finances of many developing countries.

Ghana is one of several countries causing concern over their ability to service their debts as the Federal Reserve prepares to begin raising US interest rates as soon as…

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