fbpx

Expiration of Domestic Debt Exchange Programme extended

BY: Charles Benoni Okine
Ken Ofori-Atta — Finance Minister
Ken Ofori-Atta — Finance Minister

The Ministry of Finance has extended the expiration date of its Domestic Debt Exchange Programme (DDEP) from Monday, December 19 to December 30 this year with a contemplated settlement date of Friday, January 6, 2023.

The ministry is of the view that the development will provide enough time for the necessary consultations and analysis to be completed to meet the expectations of local and foreign institutional bondholders while preserving the integrity of the Debt Sustainability Analysis and the Staff-Level Agreement (SLA).

“Over the last 10 days, we continued the consultation efforts that we initiated with all stakeholders ahead of the launching of the offer, including regulators, bankers, pension funds, asset managers and insurance companies.

“Complementing the efforts on the structure of the offer, we are working with the Bank of Ghana and other regulators (SEC, NPRA and NIC) in the financial sector and our advisors and including input from various institutions and the unions,” it said in a release.

The release said the ministry also fully considered feedback from the financial sector in relation to the need to secure internal and executive board approvals which were necessary considerations for their participation in the exchange.
“This in some instances may require emergency board meetings, etc. The extension also affords the Government of Ghana the opportunity to consider suggestions made by all stakeholders with the aim of adjusting certain measures acceptable within the constraints of the Debt Sustainability Analysis.

“Considering these developments and taking cognisance of the festive season, we have decided to extend the expiration date of the voluntary offer to Friday, December 30, 2022, with a contemplated settlement date of Friday, January 6, 2023,” it said.

The release further explained that the extension came on the heels of the announcement of an SLA with the IMF on December 13, 2022.

On December 6, 2022, the domestic debt operation, formally referred to as the Invitation to Exchange, was launched.

No takers

Almost two weeks after the launch of the programme, checks have revealed that there were no takers for the offer.

Sources said the Central Securities Depository (CSD) was waiting for the consent of institutional bondholders willing to participate in the DDEP that required them to postpone their interest in return for full payment of the principal at a later date.

As of Monday, December 12, no investor had communicated to the CSD of its intent to participate in the historic exercise.

Launched by the Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, the DDEP requires institutional holders of the eligible bonds to agree in writing to the CSD to swap their current holdings for the new ones.

Interested investors had up to 4 p.m today, December 19, to confirm their willingness to participate, according to the Minister of Finance, who said the exercise was an avenue for Ghana to bring its debts to sustainable levels to be able to qualify for financial support from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The paper was also hinted by sources close to the transaction that it was possible that the banks and brokers, which interfaced for the depository and the investors, were collating the lists in bulk to be forwarded to the depository later.

Given that the CSD does not deal with individual investors, the sources said it was not unusual for the depository to record no takers for the debt exchange programme in the early days.

Agitations

Since the announcement of the programme, fund managers, labour unions and pensions fund managers among others have fiercely resisted the move, citing the threat it posed to pension funds in particular.

They also blamed the government for what they claimed to be an imposition of the programme without deep consultations to embrace their suggestions and views.

The groups strongly held the view that their suggestions could make the programme better and more appealing to the IMF and hasten the process towards reducing the country’s debt to sustainable levels.

It is not yet clear what the expiration of the deadline will mean for the entire government /IMF negotiation.

Presently, the government is racing against time to secure IMF management and board approvals to unlock some $3 billion in balance of payment support.

With the announcement of an SLA which seems to be a contributory factor to the appreciating cedi since last week, analysts are also wondering whether this can be sustained in view of the latest development.