Pensioners demand exemption of all retiree government bondholders from Debt Exchange Programme

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Pensioner Bondholders Forum, a Group of pensioners, has called on the Government to exempt all retirees government bondholders from the Domestic Debt Exchange Programme (DDEP).

Dr Adu A. Antwi, a pensioner and Convener of the Forum, said if the pensioners bonds were not exempted, it would have adverse effects on their already challenging lives.

Dr Antwi made the call at a press conference during the Pensioner Bondholders Forum, a forum for the protection of pensioners investment.

Government last year announced Ghana’s Domestic Debt Exchange Programme where domestic bondholders were asked to exchange their instrument for new ones.

As a result, existing domestic bonds as of December 1, 2022, were to be exchanged for a set of four new bonds maturing in 2027, 2029, 2032 and 2037.

The annual coupon on all 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.

“Pensioners have no regular source of income to support us in terms of our feeding, buying regular medications, paying medical bills and meeting other critical expenses and we need these investments as our lifeblood,” he said.

Dr Antwi, who is also a banker, said their monthly pensions from Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) had been eroded by inflation to the extent that the coupons had become their core income while waiting for the payment of their principal amount upon maturity.

“We believe strongly that the basis for the exemption granted to Pension Funds holds good for the exemption of the investments of pensioners in Government bonds from DDEP,” he said.

Mr Philip Kwasi Buabeng, a member of the Forum, in an interview with the Ghana News Agency, said, the government seemed to have given them a “raw deal” by unilaterally deciding the fate of the bondholders.

“As pensioners we need liquidity and safety of our funds. If the government think that it cannot pay, it takes negotiations to do so. What is painful is that the government is asking us to apply and failure to do so means….,”the Former Principal, National Banking College, said.

“You want to exchange my present bond to this bond that extend to 15 years. The life expectancy of the Ghanaian is 64 years, and you tell the pensioners that you are spreading the investment up to 15 years. When he gets sick where is he going to get money for medications,” he said.

The Pensioners Bondholders Forum said it presented a petition to President Akufo-Addo and Ken Ofori Atta, the Finance Minister, for exclusion of pensioners.

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