When Dr Paul Acquah, governor of the Bank of Ghana, reported that private remittances coming into the country during the first three months of this year declined 7.3% to $1.98bn compared to last year, it was a clear indication that the global financial crisis was beginning to impact Ghana's economy. Yet, interestingly, the figures also revealed a 40.6% increase in international bank transfers during the first quarter of the year.
Acquah, who chairs the monetary policy committee of Ghana's central bank, said that in the same period, out of the total inward transfers, $359.37m, or 18.2%, accrued to private individuals compared with $432,8m or 20.3%, last year.
Acquah added that the Ghanaian cedi had depreciated by 13% against the US dollar, 9.9% against the pound sterling and 6.6% against the euro. In year-on-year terms, the comparable depreciations of the cedi were 0.8%, 1.1% and 7.3% respectively. The latest credit survey by the central bank showed a general tightening of conditions for all categories of borrowers in the first quarter of 2009 and a general softening of demand for credit by both enterprises and households during the period.
On credit to the private sector, enterprises accounted for 79.2% of the total, up from 69.9%. The share of household credit (mostly consumer loans) at 20.4% in March 2009 was significantly lower than 27.4% recorded in March 2008.
Equities remained fairly steady: the most notable shift in share prices during the first quarter of 2009 was a fall in the value of service-sector shares and the increasing value of the finance sector. Manufacturing and agriculture shares recorded marginal increases and all other sectors maintained their values. But the country's labour unions are becoming increasingly restive. Doctors, for instance, have threatened to review their working hours, only working from 8am to 5pm, Mondays to Fridays. If their demand for a 50% pay increase is not met. Even emergency cases will not be attended to outside their newly stipulated working hours.
As the nation's...