The Ghana Individual Bondholder’s Forum has petitioned the Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta to exclude its members from the government’s domestic debt exchange programme.
The forum is one of the groups vehemently kicking against government’s decision to give individual bondholders a haircut under the debt restructuring initiative.
The forum which consists of persons holding investments in the Government of Ghana’s Local Cedi Bonds, Government of Ghana’s Local USD Bonds, ESLA PLC Bonds, Daakye Bonds, Ghana Eurobonds, and Collective investment schemes with investments in the above securities said the announcement of the programme “has been extremely unsettling and catastrophic for our membership” and demand that they be excluded.
Like the other individuals and unions kicking against the programme, the Individual Bondholder’s Forum said its members were not consulted prior to the announcement of the programme.
“Since the commencement of considerations and discussions on government’s debt restructuring in the second half of 2022, Individual Bondholders have not been engaged in the process. This is at variance with the contractual principles of good faith, fairness and best practices.”
The group argued that the programme is one of the harshest debt restructuring measures ever adopted and when allowed to be rolled out will impoverish its members.
“The social impact of the DDE as currently presented for individuals is the harshest on any investor category and catastrophic to the livelihoods of the about 1.3mn direct and indirect bondholders and their dependents. Unlike other investor categories likely to benefit from the Financial Stability Fund, Individual Bondholders have no support to fall back on.”
The group further intimated that it feels it has been stabbed in the back by the Bank of Ghana with the rollout of the programme which will worsen the living conditions of its members most of whom are pensioners.
“We trusted the Bank of Ghana’s zero-risk rating on government bonds. We chose to invest our strained earnings in Government bonds on the back of this trust to provide security of income required to meet pertinent needs like medication, children’s education and the general welfare of our families. The decision to include Individual Bondholders in the DDE evokes painful memories of loss many of our members suffered in the infamous banking sector cleanup. It will be a sad case of double jeopardy for Government to superintend a process where ordinary Ghanaians will have to suffer yet again after the recent banking crisis.
“Our members include pensioners whose sustenance, health, dignity of independence and honour of responsibility in taking care of their young wards and families depend on their returns and cashflow from these government securities. The structure of the DDE is at variance with the programmed needs of individuals, therefore, resulting in pain and punishment. How do you expect them to self-sustain?”
The group also admonished the Finance Minister to leave a sympathetic legacy and not one of extreme suffering and unforgiveness in the heart of people that held their trust in him.
“Sir, let it not be said ever that during your tenure, your policies impoverished citizens whose primary duty to country was service and love through hard work and taxes. Your DDE as proposed for Individual Bondholders takes away our liberty to self-sustain, mocks hard work, and robs us of legally acquired property. None of these reflect the tenets of good governance.”
Other institutions copied in the petition are the President, Vice President, Chairman of the Council of State, the Speaker of Parliament, the Majority Leader of Parliament and the Minority Leader of Parliament.