DDEP: Gov’t sets up technical committee to explore viable options

The passage of outstanding revenue bills by Parliament remains critical to government programmes as well as to enable the state to complete four of the five agreed prior actions in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Staff Level Agreemen

As part of measures geared toward ensuring broad participation in the Domestic Debt Exchange Programme(DDEP), the Ministry of Finance (MoF) has set up a technical committee to explore viable alternatives to the existing terms of the Programme.

The committee, which is comprised of representatives from the MoF, two from the Individual Bondholders’ Forum (IBF) and other relevant stakeholders, will among other things, take into consideration the concerns expressed by would-be participants and investigate the possibility of finding fiscal space in the 2023 budget to allow for the exemption of certain categories of investors.

This was the primary outcome of a meeting between the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori Atta and leadership of the IBF on Wednesday, January 18. The Minister stated that the Committee would have its inaugural meeting today, Thursday, January 19, with the expectation that all issues will be resolved prior to the next Programme deadline – Tuesday, January 31.

“The Committee will be meeting tomorrow because we do not want to miss the deadline… It is urgent, it is important, and we must signal to the country that we can resolve the issues and work within our limitations but ensure that we all come out ahead somewhat,” he said in remarks to the media following the conclusion of the meeting.

Mr. Ofori Atta stated that the government remains cognizant of the fact that some investors were more vulnerable than others, as such, steps will be taken to ensure equity.

“Some are more vulnerable than others, therefore, some will contribute more than others, but we will find a way to get a formula that protects the most vulnerable, and ensure that we end up being able to secure an agreement with the Fund in a way which will have an orderly adjustment to our macros and fiscals so that we can build a stronger country,” he added.

Earlier, the minister had hinted at the exclusion of pensioners from the Programme on account of concerns they had raised about their dependence on coupon payments, particularly for health-related expenses, as well as their ages relative to the tenor of the proposed new bonds.

“As in any society, as I say, our key issue is that a society that does not protect the elderly is not the type of society we want,” he said in opening remarks prior to the closed-door session.

Finance Minister Ofori-Atta emphasised that the government’s programme is voluntary and not a form of coercion. He expressed confidence that the participation rate of 80 percent will be reached by the end of January through further stakeholder engagement.

“I think we should be very clear that this is a voluntary exercise. I have seen some very dramatic videos as if the Programme has already commenced and that is not true,” he said.

Also on the sidelines, Convener for the IBF, Senyo Hosisaid he was encouraged by the response from the Ministry, adding that members of the Forum are looking forward to a speedy resolution of the matter.

“The minister has been very reasonable and cooperative, I must say, and we are genuinely looking forward to further interactions and we will see this problem solved,” Mr. Hosi said.

The State has continued to hit multiple snags in its attempts to get holders of its domestic bonds to sign up for the voluntary exchange programme despite three deadline extensions and modest adjustments to the terms.

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