Ghanaian finance ministry warns against fallout from anti-LGBTQ lawMon, 04 Mar 2024 14:41:47 GMT

Ghana’s finance ministry has advised President Nana Akufo-Addo against endorsing a highly contested anti-LGBTQ bill, warning that it could end up with the financially-strapped country losing billions of dollars in World Bank funds.Lawmakers last week approved the bill aimed at severely curtailing LGBTQ rights, drawing condemnation from rights activists despite gaining wide support in the conservative West African state.It stipulates jail terms of six months to three years for engaging in LGBTQ sex and sentences of between three to five years for promoting or sponsoring LGBTQ activities. A confidential four-page document from the finance ministry, obtained by AFP, highlighted that the economic fallout could disrupt Ghana’s 2024 budget plans.Ghana is emerging from its worst economic crisis in decades and is under a $3 billion loan programme from the International Monetary Fund.”In total, Ghana is likely to lose US$3.8bn in World Bank financing over the next five to six years. For 2024, Ghana will lose US$600 mn in budget support and US$250 mn for the Financial Stability Fund,” the leaked document said.”This will negatively impact Ghana’s foreign exchange reserves and exchange rate stability as these inflows are expected to shore up the country’s reserve position.” It said while “there is no direct conditionality … relating to the passage of the bill… the non-disbursement of the budget support from the World Bank will derail the IMF programme.” “This will, in turn, trigger a market reaction affecting exchange rate stability,” the document addressed to the president’s office stated.A finance ministry source confirmed the authenticity of the document, but the presidency did not immediately respond to its contents.Akufo-Addo is stepping down after two terms and his ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) faces a tight race against main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) in December’s presidential ballot.The foreign loans, debt management, the economy and its recovery will be a major campaign theme in the run-up to the election.The bill, commonly referred to as the anti-gay bill, has faced widespread international condemnation, including from the UN and the United States and British governments. Sponsored by a coalition comprising Christian, Muslim, and Ghanaian traditional leaders, it garnered significant support among MPs.Akufo-Addo has not said when he will sign off on the bill, but he has in the past said gay marriage will never be allowed while he is in office.”The president may have to defer assenting to the bill until the court rules on the legal issues tabled by key national stakeholders,” the ministry document said.Ghana experienced its worst economic crisis in decades starting in 2022 as inflation surged to over 50 percent, forcing the major producer of gold, oil and cocoa to seek out its IMF relief programme and a debt restructuring. Ghana’s debt load expanded and like other sub-Saharan African nations it struggled with the economic fallout from the global pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war.