The Government has been advised to accelerate processes to complete the ongoing Domestic Debt Exchange Programme (DDEP) to ensure investors do not lose confidence in the Ghanaian economy.
In addition, the Government has been urged to embark on an aggressive fiscal and structural adjustment together with increased domestic revenue mobilisation to ensure debt sustainability and economic stability.
This comes as the DDEP has seen five postponements, with the recent being an extension from the February 7 deadline to Friday, February 10, 2023, to create a window for bondholders who experienced technical glitches to complete the online processes for tendering their bonds.
Before that, the Government had moved the deadline for signing up for the programme from December 30 of last year to January 16, then January 31 of this year.
Dr Daniel Amateye Anim–Prempeh, an Economic and Financial Analyst at the Policy Initiative for Economic Development (PIED), said such a decision by the Government did not foster market and investor confidence.
He, therefore, asked the Government to ensure a speedy completion of the DDEP, together with other fiscal and structural adjustments, which Christian Lindner, Minister of Finance of Germany, supported.
The completion of the DDEP formed part of efforts by the Government to ensure debt sustainability to secure a $3 billion loan-support programme with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Dr Anim-Prempeh said: “The postponements in the DDEP doesn’t speak well to the market and it’s not good for even bilateral relations as it further damages our image in the eyes of the investor community.”
He called on the Government to totally exempt individual bondholders, especially, pensioners from the programme, noting that they relied heavily on pension funds to cater for their healthcare, accommodation and families.
“It is not just about the money but the social implications on people. So, the first thing is to mitigate the hardship that the pensioners go through. If you look at it critically, the pensioners are more worried, so, what government ought to do is to take them off the programme,” he said.
In addition to the ongoing debt restructuring, the Economic and Financial Analyst asked the Government to reduce the number of ministers and review the free Senior High School (free SHS) programme to create more fiscal space.
He said: “We need to revisit the free SHS and allow people who may have the capacity to pay for their wards. We should also put a halt to the construction of the national cathedral for now until we’re able to improve our income levels.”
Dr Anim-Prempeh added: “The Government should quickly find a way of reducing its size, deal with the malfeasance in the system, including weak internal audit control, and beef up domestic revenue mobilisation.”
Mr Lindner reiterated the need for the Government to further cut down expenditure and support agricultural productivity and small business growth in addition to the ongoing debt restructuring.
That, he believed, would not only ensure debt sustainability for Ghana to secure Management and Executive Board approval for the $3 billion IMF loan-support programme, but long-term economic growth.
He said this during an interactive section with some students of the University of Ghana in Accra and declared Germany’s commitment to support Ghana’s debt operations.