50 Years Is Enough: The Case against the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund

By Kevin Danaher | Go to book overview

13
Ghana: The World Bank's
Sham Showcase

Ross Hammond and Lisa McGowan

Ghana's Structural Adjustment Program, one of the longest- running IMF/World Bank-initiated economic reform programs in Africa, is regularly cited by Fund and Bank economists as the prime example of how structural adjustment cures failing economies and places them on a path to sustainable growth. Although there is ove__rwhelming evidence of the program's failure, it continues to be used to legitimize adjustment programs elsewhere on the continent.

In 1983, the Ghanaian economy had reached a state of virtual collapse, the victim of falling cocoa prices, decreased government revenue, spiraling inflation and political instability. At the same time, $1.5 billion in loan repayments fell due as debts rescheduled in 1974 matured. Faced with possible bankruptcy, the Ghanaian government, led by Flight Lieutenant Jerry Rawlings, undertook a series of structural adjustment programs, designed and financed by the World Bank and the IMF. The programs became known collectively as Ghana's Economic Recovery Program (ERP), which was divided into three phases: Stabilization, Rehabilitation, and Liberalization and Growth.

As part of the ERP, the government has slashed public spending, devalued the currency (the cedi), invested in natural resource exporting industries and carried out a number of other IMF/World Bank- prescribed reforms designed to orient the economy to export production and open it to foreign investors.

As reward for its relentless pursuit of World Bank and IMF-inspired reforms, Ghana has been showered with foreign aid. In its decade-long quest for economic recovery, the government has drawn upon virtually every funding mechanism available at the Bank and Fund, contracting more than $1.75 billion in Bank loans and credits by the end of 1990. In fact, by 1988, Ghana was the third largest recipient in the world of credit from the International Development Association (IDA), the Bank's soft-loan window. Only India and China, each with populations over 850 million, received more than Ghana, whose popu-

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