Pensioners picket at Finance Ministry again over Debt Exchange Programme

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The Pensioners Bondholders Forum claims that unless the government exempts them from the Domestic Debt Exchange (DDE) Program, they would continue to picket outside the Finance Ministry.

About 100 seniors protested at the Finance Ministry on Monday, calling for a complete exemption.

They say government will make life unbearable for them if it goes ahead with the programme.

Some of the pensioners who spoke to media said, “the only term we understand now is total exemption. They exempted pension funds so we the retirees will return to picket again.”

“We will sleep here, with our mats and coal pots. I will come and sleep here because the investments I made are what I used to pay for my drugs”, another added.

“I was told by my two banks that, it was the safest. So I worked hard, saved and bought government bonds. What we are saying is that total exemption, nothing more nothing less.”

However, today, February 7, 2023, is the last day for bondholders to enroll in the program (DDEP).

All domestic bondholders should sign up for the debt exchange program by the day’s end, according to Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta.

The debt exchange deadline has been postponed a few times, but today, at least in the estimation of the finance minister, is the last day before it expires.

How many organizations and individuals have joined the program is presently unknown.

Since it was first announced, the domestic debt exchange program has been under heavy fire from labor unions, who were able to secure the exemption of pension funds.

Additionally, individual bondholders, especially retirees who were included after pension funds were exempted, have firmly opposed their inclusion.

Government is in a precarious position as it works against the clock to get an IMF Board approval for a three billion dollar bailout.

The Minister issued a warning that private bondholders’ refusal to participate in the Domestic Debt Exchange Programme would delay government attempts to boost the economy.

“Frankly, non-participation or a lower-than-expected turnout for the DDEP will prolong efforts to resolve the current economic crisis. In addition, the prospects of international financial support and other financial assurances would be jeopardized. This development could further put strain and stress on the Government’s capacity to honour key commitments. This is not what we want for our economy.”

According to convener of the group, Dr Adu Anane Antwi, they are “rejecting government’s 15% coupon rate over 5-year maturity rate.”

They intend to stay at the Ministry for a few hours, hoping to hear a positive response from the Ministry.


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