Speaking in Parliament, Mr Kwarteng said according to the Bank of Ghana (BoG) the gross international reserves of the country were $9.7 billion at the close of December 2021, which declined to $7.68 billion at the close of June 2022.
He stated this in his attempt to correct portions of the Finance Committee’s report, which was laid before the House and subsequently approved on a loan facility between the Government of Ghana and the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) for a maximum of $750 million to finance capital and growth-related expenditures in the 2022 Budget Statement.
“In that report, Mr Speaker, we reported that the international reserves of the BoG had declined from $9 billion to $3 billion,” Mr Kwarteng said.
“Mr Speaker, this was an error. It was an unfortunate oversight.”
He said in terms of net international reserves, the country closed in December 2021, with $6.08 billion, this position declined to $3.58 billion at the close of June 2022.
“Mr Speaker, the error is regretted, and I request the Clerk at Table to ensure that all the records are corrected,” Mr Kwarteng said.
However, the Chairman of the Finance Committee’s attempt to correct the report, which had been adopted by the House, using a statement did not go down well with the Minority Caucus of Parliament.
“Mr Speaker, that the $3 billion that the Committee’s report captured is not just of the head, these are statements that came from the Minister responsible for Finance,” Dr Forson said.
“Mr Speaker, I was in that Meeting, it was the Minister responsible for Finance, who made that statement.”
He said if for any reason, what they had on record was different from what the Central Bank had, it was for the Central Bank to issue a statement to correct the error.
He also urged the Chairman to leave the issue to BoG to correct.
He said the 1992 Constitution in Article 184 (1) states that “The Committee of Parliament responsible for financial measures shall monitor the foreign exchange receipts and payments or transfers of the Bank of Ghana in and outside Ghana and shall report on them, to Parliament once in every six months”.
He said since the eighth Parliament took office, the Finance Committee had not had the opportunity to report to the House on the Foreign Exchange Reserves of the country; adding that it was the responsibility of the BoG to submit reports to the Committee for it to be able to report to the House.
Alhaji Mohammed Mubarak Muntaka, Minority Chief Whip, who urged the Finance Committee to do due diligence before presenting their reports to the House, further urged the Chairman to withdraw his statement.
He said: “If we allow the statement to stand, the repercussions are going to be chain reactions.”
Mr Alexander Kwamina Afenyo-Markin, Deputy Majority Leader, said it was not the first time that an error was been corrected in the House; stating that “and he (Mr Kwarteng) has done that in good faith.”
He said clearly unlike the previous report that stated that the country was so worse off, the correction should rather bring joy to the House, that after all the country was not as worse off as they had thought.
He agreed with the Ranking Member that the House encourage BoG to validate the Chairman’s statement.
Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, the Majority Leader, said on Monday, July 25, the finance minister would be in the House to present the Mid-Year Review Budget Statement and Economic Policy and Supplementary Estimate of the Government for 2022 Financial to the House, and that the Minister would speak to the issue.