ACCRA — Ghana’s government is working on a new policy where gold rather than US dollar reserves will be used to buy oil products, Vice-President Mahamudu Bawumia said on Facebook on Thursday.
The move is meant to tackle dwindling foreign currency reserves coupled with demand for dollars by oil importers, which is weakening the local cedi and increasing living costs.
Ghana’s Gross International Reserves stood at around $6.6 million at the end of September 2022, equalizing to less than three months of imports cover. That is down from a stock position of around $9.7 million at the end of last year, according to the government.
If implemented as planned for the first quarter of 2023, the new policy “will fundamentally change our balance of payments and significantly reduce the persistent depreciation of our currency,” Bawumia said.
Using gold would prevent the exchange rate from directly impacting fuel or utility prices as domestic sellers would no longer need foreign exchange to import oil products, he explained.
“The barter of gold for oil represents a major structural change,” he added.
Bawumia’s announcement was posted as Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta announced measures to cut spending and boost revenues in a bid to tackle a spiraling debt crisis.
In a 2023 budget presentation to parliament on Thursday, Ofori-Atta warned the West African nation was at high risk of debt distress and that the cedi’s depreciation was seriously affecting Ghana’s ability to manage its public debt.
The government is negotiating a relief package with the International Monetary Fund as the cocoa, gold and oil-producing nation faces its worst economic crisis in a generation. (Reporting by Cooper Inveen and Christian Akorlie Writing by Sofia Christensen Editing by Estelle Shirbon, James Macharia Chege and Josie Kao)