Jamaica was successful with Debt Exchange because they consulted the people – Theo Acheampong

In Jamaica where the Debt Exchange programme was successful, the authorities carried along the affected people right from the the get-go, an economist, Dr Theo Acheampong has said.

In Ghana, he noted, there has not been enough engagements with the people who are going to be affected by the programme.

The Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta while launching the programme on Monday December 6 said Ghana is not the first nation to undertake such Domestic Debt operation.

“To illustrate the point, let me cite the examples of just two countries among many
others in the last 10 years. Jamaica resorted to such operations in the past, notably in 2010 and 2013.

“In both cases, it chose to trust the sense of responsibility of the Jamaican people
and proceeded through a voluntary approach. This approach was highly successful, as more than 99% of holders of domestic bonds participated in the exchange.

“On the contrary, in the case of Greece, the Authorities chose to undertake a coercive approach, whereby a law was passed to force people into participating,” he said.

He added “We intend to avoid as much as possible the Greek approach, as we strive to reach a consensual solution with our bondholders, which the is Ghanaian way. In any case, the good news is that the Domestic Debt Exchange has yielded positive results both in Greece and Jamaica, and many others, and will certainly put our economy on a much stronger footing. Greece has now recovered full market access. We certainly anticipate a similar success story in Ghana. I want to assure you about the Government’s commitment to do what is necessary to succeed.”

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But the programme is facing massive rejection from stakeholders including the Ghana Medical Association (GMA), The Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT) Trades Union Congress (TUC) and The University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG).

Speaking during the thought leadership forum organized by Media General on the theme “Debt Restructuring: What it means for your investment,” on Thursday December 8, Dr Acheampong said “There has not been as much of engagements with the people who will be affected by this domestics exchange programme.

“It is worrying that decision are made sometimes in silos  without carrying on board the people who these decisions are affected.

“The reason why in Jamaica it was successful was that they carried the people who will be affected along from day one.”

The Director of the Institute of Statistical, Social and and Economic Research (ISSER) of the University of Ghana, Professor Peter Quartey also said earlier that there was the need for a broader consultation on the Debt Exchange programme.

He said that consensus building was needed because the progamme seeks to touch the funds of the people.

There needed to be agreement on the terms and conditions for the proposal, he said.

Speaking on the Ghana Tonight show with Alfred Ocansey on TV3 Monday December 5, he said “I think in all of these there is the need for consultation or consensus building. It is very critical because you are going to touch people’s funds and certainly, they have to agree to the terms or whatever you want to propose.

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“I know that there has been some initial consultations but I don’t think that has been wide enough, that has been deepened enough and therefore, going forward, I think government should consult labour, consult pension fund holders, etc so that there is some consensus building in this because we are in this together, without consultations you cannot move forward.

“We cannot also signed onto an IMF programme if we do not agree to a debt restructuring exercise.”

By Laud Nartey|3news.com|Ghana