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IMF Urges Ghana to Address High Interest Rates, Energy Problems

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April 12 (Bloomberg) -- The International Monetary Fund urged Ghana, the second-biggest economy in West Africa, to curb interest rates and get its wage bill under control after it jumped 47 percent between 2011 and 2012.

“The energy sector problems and the high interest rates will curtail private-sector growth,” Christina Daseking, IMF mission chief to Ghana, told reporters in the capital, Accra, today. She predicted the economy will grow 8 percent this year.

The Bank of Ghana kept its benchmark rate at 15 percent in February after three increases last year aimed at averting a surge in inflation caused by rising government spending. Energy subsidies, higher wages and other increases before December’s presidential election helped swell the budget deficit to 12.1 percent of gross domestic product last year, compared with a 6.7 percent target.

The gap is “probably going to stay at a high level of 10 percent” this year, Daseking said. “We are urging the government to gain back control of the wage bill,” Daseking said.

Ghana is experiencing daily power outages since a natural-gas pipeline off the coast of neighboring Togo was damaged by a ship.

To contact the reporter on this story: Pauline Bax in Accra at pbax@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Nasreen Seria at nseria@bloomberg.net

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