A Former Chief Justice, Sophia Akuffo, yesterday morning joined pensioners to picket at the Ministry of Finance to demand a total exemption of pension funds in the Domestic Debt Exchange Programme (DDEP).
She displayed a placard with the inscription “We depend on our bond yields to pay our rent, medical bills, electricity bills and water bills.”
The picketing ended with a closed-door meeting between the Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta and the leadership of the pensioners.
Speaking to the media, Madam Akuffo called out the government for attempting to forcibly include their pension funds in the debt restructuring exercise without engagement.
She described the move by the government as wickedness and outright disrespect to the pensioners who have sacrificed their lives for the development of the nation.
“I am over 70 years now, I am no longer government employed, my mouth has been ungagged, and I am talking, and I am saying that we have failed, and it is important that the elderly should be respected.
I find this wicked, I find it disrespectful, I find it unlawful, I find it totally wrong,” Madam Akuffo stated.
She was critical of the government for the current state of the economy and demanded that it account to Ghanaians.
“I want the government to be transparent and account to Ghanaians on what led to the current economic crisis and what all the loans were used for,” she added.
The former Chief Justice threatened to seek legal redress if government proceeds to include pensioners in the programme.
Yesterday’s picketing at the Ministry of Finance was the fifth time that members of the Pensioner Bondholders Forum were picketing to demand a total exemption of their investments from the Domestic Debt Exchange programme.
The government had proposed a 15 per cent coupon rate, but the group of about 50 retirees argue that they would not accept any haircuts on their investments as their livelihoods depend on the proceeds from the investments.
One of the pensioners, who claimed ill-health, said, inclusion of the pension funds in the DDEP would deny him access to drugs.
He therefore urged government to exclude their investments from the programme.
“The only term we understand now is a total exemption. They should exempt pension funds so we the retirees will return to our homes.
I will come and sleep here because the investments I made are what I use to pay for my drugs,” he stated.
The government’s extended window for bondholders to complete the tender processes as part of the Domestic Debt Exchange Programme (DDEP) was scheduled to elapse yesterday.
The extension from the February 7 deadline was to create a window for the bondholders who experienced technical glitches to complete the online processes for tendering their bonds.
According to the Ministry of Finance, it was receiving the needed response from various stakeholders and individuals after it opened a three-day administrative window.
BY CLAUDE NYARKO ADAMS