Recent economic policy has aimed at correcting basic problems in every phase of the economy: unemployment (20% in 1997), low productivity, high production costs, the large foreign debt ($5.96 billion in 2001), low savings and investing, inflation (25% in 2001), and high private and government consumption. The country relies heavily on financial assistance from international lenders including the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Conditions of the loans include progress in privatizing state-owned enterprises and achieving macroeconomic performance targets.
The government's recently launched Vision 2020 plan aims at making Ghana a middle-income country through free-market reforms over the course of the next 25 years. Key elements of the plan include increased privatization of parastatals, a more friendly environment for foreign investment, renewed efforts to facilitate private-sector growth, and improvements in infrastructure and social welfare. By 2003, about two-thirds of 300 state-owned enterprises had been sold to private owners. During 1999, Japan announced the donation of $16.5 million to import machinery, spare parts, and industrial materials. The US energy firm CMS announced planned to build a new electric generating unit, alleviating fears of further power outages.
In 2002, Ghana reached decision point on the IMF/World Bank's Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative, and was to receive $3.7 billion in debt relief. The relief will allow Ghana to increase spending on education, health, programs to benefit rural areas, and improved governance. Ghana raised electricity, fuel, and municipal water rates, and raised taxes to stabilize its fiscal position, as part of the agreed-upon debt relief plan. In 2003, Ghana negotiated a three-year $258 million Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF) Arrangement with the IMF, to support the government's economic reform program for 2003–05.