Two leading figures in the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) are at the throat of the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, cautioning him against involving individual bondholders in the imminent Domestic Debt Exchange programme.
While, the Majority Leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, warned that the current situation could wipe out the middle class and negatively affect the savings culture of Ghanaians, the Majority Chief Whip and the NPP Member of Parliament for Nsawam-Adoagyiri, Frank Annoh-Dompreh, has also called on the Finance Minister, to as a matter of urgency review his decision on the inclusion of individual bondholders in the domestic debt exchange programme.
The Majority Leader, who was speaking with a group of individual bondholders led by convener, Senyo Hosi and private legal practitioner Martin Kpebu after a petition to exclude individual bondholders from the debt exchange was presented to him on Friday, called on the Finance Minister to properly engage with major stakeholders.
“What we [are] talking about is that many of these bondholders also belong to the middle class and that’s where the major worry is. If we are wiping away the middle class, that could be dangerous, so we need to have some further dialogue on this, the Suame MP said.
According to him, “government thinks that this is the best way forward, however, even if it is, we need to engage, reflect and then move on and that will encourage some people who have some doubt to better appreciate where we are.”
“Nothing can substitute for discussions, round table discussions and engagements wherever we find ourselves in. I think it’s important that we go back to the drawing table to have engagements with the major stakeholders…All of us are in it. And if we don’t manage it well, we’ve gone through this before, way back some 25, 30 years ago and repositioning was a major, major difficulty.
“Today many people are coming on board and if this thing should happen, how do we build confidence and trust and reconstruct a new savings culture?”
On his part, the Nsawam-Adoagyiri MP, on Saturday, January 14, also called on Ken Ofori-Atta to as a matter of urgency review his decision on the inclusion of individual bondholders in the domestic debt exchange programme.
In a tweet, the Majority Chip Whip described the decision by Ken Ofori-Atta as “unfair” and “untenable” adding that he disagrees with the inclusion of individual bondholders in the debt exchange programme.
The Ghana Individual Bondholder’s Forum on Friday petitioned the Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta to exclude its members from the government’s domestic debt exchange programme.
The forum is one of the groups vehemently kicking against the government’s decision to give individual bondholders a haircut under the debt restructuring initiative.
The forum which consists of persons holding investments in the Government of Ghana’s Local Cedi Bonds, the Government of Ghana’s Local USD Bonds, ESLA PLC Bonds, Daakye Bonds, Ghana Eurobonds, and Collective investment schemes with investments in the above securities said the announcement of the programme “has been extremely unsettling and catastrophic for our membership” and demand that they be excluded.
“Since the commencement of considerations and discussions on the government’s debt restructuring in the second half of 2022, Individual Bondholders have not been engaged in the process. This is at variance with the contractual principles of good faith, fairness and best practices.”
Meanwhile, the convener of the Individual Bond Holders Association of Ghana (IBHAG), Martin Kpebu, has called on the National Security Minister, Albert Kan Dapaah, to intervene and ensure that their funds are not included in the Domestic Debt Exchange Programme.
On the Big Issue on Citi TV/Citi FM on Saturday, January 14, Mr Kpebu advised all individual bondholders, to resist the temptation of signing onto the voluntary exchange of their existing bonds with the new ones floated by the government.
Chanting “Say No to DDE”, Mr Kpebu said the attempts of the Finance Minister to voluntarily include the funds of individual bondholders in the debt exchange programme amounts to a national security issue.
According to him, most of its members are pensioners, traders, teachers, public servants, and individuals who depend on the coupons from their investments to survive on a daily basis.
“As far as we are hearing, this is not a cabinet decision, it is not a cabinet decision…so we ask Kan Dapaah to step in. This is a national security matter.”
Mr Kpebu maintained that the Akufo-Addo led-government continues to overspend and live beyond its means which has contributed to the current crisis.
He called on President Akufo-Aaddo to cut down on the bloated government machinery made up of party boys and girls with outrageous pecks.
He added that his group will continue to reject the debt exchange proposal by the government until proper consultations are held with all individual bondholders.