$ 2.25 billion bond matter: Finance Minister to appear before Parliament tomorrow

Mr Ken Ofori-AttaThe Finance Minister, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, will appear in Parliament tomorrow, to furnish the House with details of the US$ 2.25 billion bond government issued earlier this year.

He was summoned to the House by the Speaker, Professor Aaron Mike Oquaye last week following a half hour motion moved by the Minority Leader Haruna Iddrisu, requesting that Mr Ofori-Atta furnished the House with the details of the bond.

The motion moved by the Minority Leader sought to prevail on the Finance Minister to provide detailed information including the full complement of documentation related to issuance, participation, utilisation of the proceeds and currency in which it was issued.

Presenting Parliaments programme for this week on Friday, Majority Leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu said “the Finance Minister is programmed to attend upon the House on Wednesday to make a statement in response to the Half Hour Motion moved by the Minority Leader on Wednesday May 31, 2017.”

The issuance of the bond is currently under investigations by Ghana’s Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) over possible conflict of interest and the Securities and Exchange Commission of the United States of America.

According to Mr Iddrisu, who is MP for Tamale South, the Public Financial Management Act and Article 181 enjoins the Finance Minister to bring the deal before the House for approval “but this has not happened.”

“We have official statement to the effect that the US$ 2.25 billion has been released. We have passed the Appropriation Act and any other expenditure, pursuant to it, must have the attention of this August House,” Mr Iddrisu added.

The Minority argued that the Finance Minister’s admission that the bond was issued to switch short-term domestic instruments, which is 91 and 182 days treasury bills, trading at 16.35 per cent and 16.70 with a long-term debt of 19.75, was misplaced and puts a heavy financial burden on the country.

“What surprises us is for the Finance Minister to go for a long term debt of 19.75 per cent to switch off a debt of 16.35 per cent. In fact, his action is willfully causing financial loss to the state,” Casiel Ato Forson, the Minority spokesperson on Finance told journalists after proceedings.

The issuance of the bond has been topical following revelations that 95 per cent of the bond was sold to an American Bond Fund, Franklin Templeton, whose Director, Trevor Trefgarne, doubles as Chairman of the Board of Directors of Enterprise Group Ltd, a company owned by Mr Ofori-Atta.

Mr Ofori Atta has thus far rejected any wrong doing in the issuance of the bond.

Meanwhile, seven other ministers will be in the House during the course of the week to answer questions from members on pertinent issues.

They include Mrs Catherine Afeku, Tourism, Arts and Culture, Mrs Ursula Owusu-Akuful, Communications, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, Agriculture, Mr. Ambrose Dery, Interior, Mr  Boakye Agyarko, Energy, Mr. Kwasi Amoako-Atta, Roads and Highways and Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh, Education.

By Julius Yao Petetsi

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