The New Patriotic Party (NPP) has called on its own government, through the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, to explore the possibility of exempting individual small bond holders, especially pensioners, from the government’s debt exchange programme.
The General Secretary of the NPP, Mr Justin Kodua Frimpong made the appeal to the Finance Minister, when the Minister paid a visit to the headquarters of the ruling party on Friday, 13 January 2023.
According to Mr Koduah, the party leadership continues to be inundated with these concerns, thus, his appeal to the Finance Minister to take a critical look at the policy.
The government is currently negotiating a programme with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a $3-billion credit facility programme, thus, necessitating the debt restructuring exercise.
Under the programme, domestic bondholders have been asked to exchange their instruments for new ones.
Mr Ofori-Atta announced Sunday evening (4 December 2022) that: “Existing domestic bonds as of 1st December 2022 will be exchanged for a set of four new bonds maturing in 2027, 2029, 2032 and 2037.”
Also, “the annual coupon on all of these new bonds will be set at 0% in 2023, 5% in 2024 and 10% from 2025 until maturity. Coupon payments will be semi-annual.
Individual bondholders including pensioners have kicked against the move and threatened to sue the government if it goes ahead with its plans.
Mr Ofori-Atta’s visit to the headquarters of the NPP was a response to the Party-Government Engagements initiative introduced by the leadership of the Party, aimed at bridging the gap between government appointees and various stakeholders of the party.
He was warmly received by the national executives of the party led by Chairman Stephen Ayesu Ntim.
In his welcome address, Mr. Ntim disclosed that the Party-Government Engagements was introduced due to the urgent need for broader collaboration between government appointees and Party stakeholders in preparation for the 2024 general polls.
For his part, Mr Ofori-Atta admitted that Ghana was plagued with difficult socioeconomic conditions in 2022, as skyrocketing inflation and high interest rates triggered a cost of living crisis.
He, however, noted that the Ministry of Finance is determined to achieve macroeconomic stabilisation to provide an enabling environment for businesses to thrive and also enhance the living conditions of the general populace.
He recounted the economic feat in the first term of the Akufo-Addo administration which made Ghana one of the fastest growing economies in the world.
Mr Ofori-Atta noted that the socioeconomic foundation that was laid by the Akufo-Addo administration was intended to usher Ghana into a new dawn of sustainable economic growth and prosperity.
He, however, observed that the devastating and lingering impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war on the local economy have occasioned challenges for businesses and individuals alike.
He assured that government is determined to get the economy back on track, and rallied the leadership of the Party to support government’s remedial interventions at reviving the economy.
He asserted that government’s Extended Credit Facility agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) would energise and stabilise the local economy.
Moreover, he assured the leadership of the Party that government has no intention to cancel the flagship Free Senior High School Programme as it remains an important social safety net to majority of Ghanaians.
In his concluding remarks, the Minister for Finance thanked the Party leadership for the warm reception, and commended them for their wise counsel.
He further urged the Party leadership to put in place adequate guidelines to ensure the smooth conduct of its Parliamentary and Presidential primaries as that is critical to the Party’s quest to win a-historic third consecutive general elections and “Break the eight”.