The Minority says they are completely opposed to the domestic debt exchange programme announced by the Minister of Finance, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, in Accra yesterday.
The caucus wonders why Mr Ofori-Atta did not announce the details of the programme to MPs in the 2023 budget he presented to Parliament on November 24.
Addressing a press conference in Accra moments after the Minister of Finance’s announcement, the Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu, said the programme would further exacerbate the suffering of Ghanaians.
“The form and structure of the debt restructuring announced by Ken Ofori-Atta is unacceptable to us and we simply will not accept it.
“How come the details of this debt exchange programme were not announced in the budget statement that was presented to Parliament?” Mr Iddrisu, MP, Tamale South, asked.
Under the programme, domestic bond holders would be expected to exchange their instruments for new ones with existing domestic bonds as of December 1, 2022 exchanged for a set of four new bonds maturing in 2027, 2029, and 2037.
The annual coupons on the bonds, the minister said would be set at zero per cent in 2023, five per cent in 2024 and 10 per cent from 2025 until maturity.
But the Minority wonders what level of consultation was done before this decision which they termed “economic imposition.”
“Were investors consulted? Were bond holders consulted? How did the finance minister come to this conclusion? Are we not right to state that this amounts to an economic imposition against the investment intents and wishes of those who bought bonds?” he questioned.
In his view, the terms and condition of the yet-to-be-agreed International Monetary Fund debt exchange programme, which the Minister agreed necessitated the restructuring, constitutes a loan pursuant to Article 181(5) of the constitution and in so far as same alters the terms of existing loans, it needed parliamentary approval.
“As implied, any other debt restructuring programme constitutes a variation of the terms and conditions of past loans authorised by Parliament.
“It is the onus and mandate of Parliament to approve of terms and conditions of loans. It does not lie with the minister of finance, without prior approval of Parliament to make any changes to those terms and conditions.”
The House, he said ought to have been briefed on the socio-economic implications of the debt exchange programme of the country.
“The announcement of the Finance Minister has a dire consequence on Ghana’s financial sector, jobs, pensions and those who are by legislation compelled to invest 75 per cent of their profits in government instruments and bonds.
“We expected government to have thoroughly consulted and engaged before making this far-reaching decision.”
Breaking down the implication of the programme on affected persons, Mr Iddrisu said “they will suffer a drastic reduction in the rate of interest” with its trickling effect on the generality of the economy.
BY JULIUS YAO PETETSI