The Minority Chief Whip, Muntaka Mubarak, has described the government’s debt exchange programme as an immoral operation. The programme, which was announced by Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta will result in a slash in interest payments for domestic bondholders to zero percent in 2023 and five percent in 2024.
Again, existing domestic bonds as of December 1, 2022, will be exchanged for a set of four new bonds maturing in 2027, 2029, 2032 and 2037 – all in a bid to restore the nation’s capacity to service its debt. According to him, the operation is structured such that the one who ‘created the [economic] mess’ assumes very little responsibility in solving the crisis while the larger responsibility is passed on to his successor.
Speaking on JoyNews’ PM Express, he said, “The way it is structured, Evans, I find it to be very immoral. Immoral in the sense that you the one who has created the mess is saying that in 2023 when you are there, when you are still there, the one who created the mess, you’ll pay zero. Then 2024 the same mess causer is going to pay 5[%].
“Then beyond 2025 when he is not there, someone else should come and clear his shit. I find that to be very very ridiculous. I simply ask, what investment has the Finance Ministry made that dividend will yield in 2025 and then beyond when they’re going to be paying the 17[%], 17[%], 25[%] and 41[%]. Which investment have they done?”
According to Muntaka, the danger of the debt exchange programme is that it pushes the greater part of the burden on the next government without any support being provided in the form of a sinking fund.
He noted that while the Seth Terkper-led Finance Ministry had left behind a sinking fund following their subscription to the IMF programme, the Ken Ofori-Atta-led Finance Ministry is doing no such thing. This he says makes the debt operation unsustainable and very burdensome.
“So that’s the danger, it’s part of our resistance. Why are they not going to create a sinking fund whiles they’re still there to show the genuity that ‘oh it is because we are genuinely sorry this year we didn’t anticipate this, we created a mess but please forgive us but this is a path so we’ve even created a sinking fund that will be growing some money towards those repayments’? You’re not doing any of that.
“Remember when Seth Terkper had to go to the IMF, had to create sinking fund, this man is not creating any sinking fund. And yet he is leaving the dirt, the mess that he has created for somebody else into the future. “These are the reasons why we believe this structure cannot be supported by us and it has to be opened up,” he said.
Meanwhile, organized labour has strongly opposed the government’s debt operation from fear that it may erode their already paltry pension funds.
Source: Cornerlis Kweku Affre