Retirees who hold sovereign bonds have called on the government to use the extension period for the domestic debt exchange programme (DDEP) to conduct in-depth negotiations with local bondholders.
At a press conference in Accra yesterday by the group, the Pensioners Bondholders Forum (PBF), the retirees said thorough negotiations would help forge solutions in ways that could insulate investments of individual bondholders, especially pensioners from the proposed DDEP.
“We all want the programme to succeed and so we want the government to negotiate with us so that we can find solutions,” the Convener of the forum, Dr Adu Anane Antwi, said.
The call came after the Ministry of Finance (MoF) announced through its social media handles that the government had extended the expiration of the domestic debt exchange programme (DDEP) to January 31, 2023.
It said the extension was to help deepen stakeholder engagement on the proposed policy.
“Building consensus is key to a successful economic recovery for Ghana. Pending further stakeholder engagement with institutional and individual investors, recently invited to join the debt exchange programme, the government is extending the expiration of the DDE to Jan. 31, 2023,” it added.
Dr Antwi said the government should use the same approach it used to negotiate with foreign creditors for the local bondholders, especially that of retirees.
“I have heard that foreign creditors have got a committee that negotiates with the government and so why can’t local bondholders have the same.
“If you owe someone and cannot pay, why don’t you tell them and find a solution together because we all want the programme to succeed,” Dr Antwi added.
According to him, the government’s initial approach to the programme was flawed because it alienated the most vulnerable bondholders who are pensioners.
The convenor further said that the retirees, numbering about 400, each of whom held government bonds, were united against the inclusion of their investments in the DDEP.
He said capturing their investments in the debt swap programme would have a negative impact on their livelihoods and that of their families.
According to him, they invested with the expectation that the coupons (interest payments) would supplement the pensions they received through the tier-one pension scheme under the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT).
Dr Antwi further said that the group intended to picket at the Ministry of Finance on Monday, January 23, 2023, against the inclusion of their investments in the programme.
In line with that, he said, a letter had already been sent to the Ghana Police Service to seek permission to demonstrate outside the premises of the ministry.
Dr Antwi, however, expressed hope that members would engage the sector minister before close of day yesterday, the initial deadline for individual bondholders to assent to the government’s invitation to the debt swap.
He said if the government heeded their calls and exempted pensioners from the programme, the demonstration would be called off.
The convenor added that the PBF had also petitioned other stakeholders and institutions such as Parliament, the Council of State, the Christian Council of Ghana, the Office of the Chief Imam, the Ghana Catholic Bishops' Conference, the Ghana Pentecostal and Charismatic Council and the National Peace Council to intervene.