You can solve the problems without touching pensioners’ small money – Speaker tells Finance Minister

The Speaker of Parliament Alban Bagbin has told Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta not to touch the funds of the pensioners.

Mr Bagbin said the government can solve the economic challenges without touching their funds.

“The pensioners were with us yesterday and poured out their hearts. I am happy they met you too and you were able to assure them that they will be exempted.

“They are here today, they had even programmed to picket not only at your Ministry but also in Parliament. I am happy to hear that they are exempted.

“What I can tell you is that leave our pensioners alone. You can solve the problem without touching their small money,” he said in Parliament after the Finance Minister brofed the House on the Debt Exchange programme.

Mr Ofori-Atta has told Parliament that he has met the pensioners who have been picketing to protest their inclusion in the Domestic Debt Exchange Programme (DDEP) three times.

He said he has explained to them the terms of the new bonds

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He said “government is committed to the wellbeing of our senior citizens and pensioners. The government will honour their coupon payments and maturing principles.”

He added “I have met with them on three occasions where I explained the terms of the new bonds. I subsequently wrote to their convener to let him know that all pensioners who did not participate in the bond offerings are exempt.”

Earlier, Former Chief Justice Sophia Akuffo who was part of the picketing pensioners said she was getting suspicious when Mr Ofori-Atta listened to the concerns of others and responded to their letters regarding the domestic debt exchange programme but did not respond to pensioners who had written to him to exclude them from the programme.

Ms Sophia Akuffo insisted that the Finance Minister must exempt pensioners from the programme.

“A simple letter that was written by the association to the Minister of Finance that exempt us from your programme. That is the gist, I always like to distil things to their lowest common denominator, exempt us, we are pensioners. Up till now, I have seen a copy of the letter, it has been dated 7th January.

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“Up till now, there has not been a note of acknowledgement and just a few days similar letters that were written to the Minister have been responded to whereby he has categorically exempted other groups. Why? When I cannot fathom the reasons for something being done in a particular way especially when it has been done for others but it is not being done for others I start getting suspicious, I have grown to the age where I have seen it all,” Speaking to journalists in Accra after joining pensioners again to picket at the Ministry of Finance to protest their inclusion in the programme, on Tuesday, February 14.

The government has however revealed that it has reached 80 per cent participation in the programme.

“The Government’s Domestic Debt Exchange Programme (DDEP) closed on Friday 10th February 2023 with over 80% participation of eligible bonds,” a statement issued by the Ministry of Finance on Tuesday, February 14 said.

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“The Government wants to thank the people of Ghana for their forbearance and support throughout these very difficult times.”

It said by the participation of the voluntary bondholders after the closure of the Programme on Friday, the country has inched closer towards securing the $3billion extended credit facility (ECF) from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

“The DDEP is being done to help protect the economy and enhance our capacity to service our public debts effectively.

“The alternative of not executing the DDEP would have brought grave disorder in the servicing of our national debt and exacerbated the current economic crisis.

“The Government is, therefore, grateful for the overwhelming participation of all bondholders.

“Your support and contribution has gotten your country much closer to securing the IMF programme.”

It asked individual bondholders, particularly pensioners, who did not participate in the Programme, to be rest assured that their coupon payments and maturing principals will be honoured in line with laid-down rules.

By Laud Nartey||Ghana


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