According to Deputy Finance Minister Abena Osei-Asare, Ghana’s current debt situation cannot be attributed solely to the New Patriotic Party (NPP), as it is a national debt that has been accumulated since the country’s inception. This was stated during a presentation by Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta on the Domestic Debt Exchange Programme (DDEP) in Parliament on February 16, in which he called on Members of Parliament (MPs) to support the government in securing board approval from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to help stabilize the economy.
In his presentation, Mr Ofori-Atta emphasized that securing an IMF deal would assist Ghana in rapidly recovering from the economic challenges it currently faces, stating,
“We will recover from this crisis soon rather than later, as indicated by President Akufo-Addo.” He went on to request that MPs support the government in obtaining board approval for macro stability.
Furthermore, Mr Ofori-Atta indicated that he had met with pensioners who had been protesting their inclusion in the DDEP on three separate occasions and had explained the terms of the new bonds to them. He assured them that the government was committed to their well-being and would honour their coupon payments and maturing principles. He also mentioned that those pensioners who did not participate in the bond offerings were exempt from the programme.
However, Former Chief Justice Sophia Akuffo, who was part of the picketing pensioners, expressed concern that Mr Ofori-Atta had not responded to their request to be excluded from the programme, despite responding to other groups’ concerns regarding the domestic debt exchange programme. She insisted that the Finance Minister should exempt pensioners from the programme, stating,
“A simple letter that was written by the association to the Minister of Finance that exempt us from your programme…Up till now, I have seen a copy of the letter, it has been dated 7th January.”
The government has since revealed that it has reached an 80% participation rate in the programme, with a statement from the Ministry of Finance on February 14 stating that
“The Government wants to thank the people of Ghana for their forbearance and support throughout these very difficult times.”
The statement also noted that by participating in the programme, eligible bondholders had brought the country closer to securing a $3 billion extended credit facility (ECF) from the IMF. It further reassured individual bondholders, particularly pensioners who did not participate in the programme, that their coupon payments and maturing principals would be honoured in accordance with established rules.