After Moody's cut, Ghana finance ministry says ratings agencies biased against Africa

Ghana Finance Minister attends Institute of International Finance meeting in Washington
Ghana's Minister of Finance Ken Ofori-Atta makes remarks at the Institute of International Finance's meeting entitled "G20: Compact With Africa", during the IMF and World Bank's 2017 Annual Fall Meetings, in Washington, U.S., October 11, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Theiler

ACCRA, Feb 7 (Reuters) - Ghana's finance ministry said that Moody's decision to downgrade its credit rating was made by omitting key information and revealed an institutional bias against African economies.

Rating agency Moody's downgraded Ghana from B3 to CAA1 on Friday, citing the "increasingly difficult task government faces in addressing the intertwined liquidity and debt challenges."

Ghana's second downgrade in three weeks, after Fitch Ratings adjusted Ghana from B to B- last month, citing concerns for its ability to issue bonds in 2022, sent its dollar bonds tumbling. read more

"We are gravely concerned about what appears to be an institutionalized bias against African economies in this aspect... with little regard for the adverse impact on the cost and access of financing for African Sovereigns," Ghana's finance ministry said in a statement dated Sunday and posted on its website on Monday.

"We shall actively continue to support the global outcry against this leviathan," it added.

The finance ministry said that Moody's had failed to consider key information in its assessment, which it said was made without giving a new primary credit analyst adequate time to understand Ghana's economy.

Ghana formally appealed the new rating, but Moody's rejected it and went ahead with the downgrade, the statement said. It was not immediately clear whether Accra would file another appeal.

Moody's did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Economists fear the West African nation could be spiralling toward a debt crisis, as it struggles with a double-digit fiscal deficit and rising inflation.

In hopes of rallying investors and stabilizing bond yields, Ghana last month said it would cap expenditure at 80% of what was approved for the 2022 budget until the deficit outlook improves.

Reporting by Christian Akorlie and Cooper Inveen; Additional reporting by Karin Strohecker; Editing by Tomasz Janowski

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