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-they Say Ken Ofori Atta was only in the House to tell Ghanaians how Bonds are issued, and nothing else.
The Minority National Democratic Congress (NDC) Caucus in Parliament, on Wednesday, June 7, 2017 expressed its dismay at the response given by the Finance Minister, Hon. Ken Ofori-Atta regarding its half hour motion which was moved by the Minority leader, Hon. Haruna Iddrisu on May 31st 2017.
In their motion, the Minority demanded from the Finance Minister to provide the House detailed information on the recent Two Billion, Two Hundred and Fifty Million United States Dollars (US$2.25Billion) Bond including the full complement of documentation related to the issuance, the participants, the utilization of the proceeds and the currency in which the Bond was settled.
But the Finance Minister, Hon. Ken Ofori Atta in his response insisted that the Bond was a Cedi denominated bond (9.7 billion) and that it was part of the issuance calendar for the second quarter which is consistent with the 2017 budget financing plan.
He also stated that the bond participants are no strangers to the Ghanaian market and as a matter of record, have been investing in local bonds over the last decade.
According to him, the transaction was debt neutral, as it did not add a pesewa to the country’s debt stock.
The said transaction, he further noted, has eliminated the costs associated with cross-continental road shows, saved the country about GH¢ 600 million in interest payments and reduced refinancing costs associated with short term borrowing.
Hon. Ofori Atta said they have extended the tenor of domestic debt to 15 years which he considered another history of the Akufo-Addo government.
Speaking after the Finance Minister’s response to Parliament, the Minority leader said his side has not had adequate information as expected and therefore called on the Finance Minister to be candid with the good people of Ghana.
Hon. Haruna Iddrisu who is also the Tamale South lawmaker maintained that the failure of the Finance Minister to provide detailed information governing the controversial $2.25 billion bond vindicated him as he has earlier on warned government that the bond has implications on the country’s debt profile as well as the future of the country.
“We asked for the utilization of the bond and this is Parliament of Ghana, the people’s representatives, the Minister has accounted for 2.25billion dollars which doesn’t add up. So, where is the rest of the money,” the Minority leader queried.
He insisted that the Minority was not questioning foreign participation in the transaction but are only questioning the concentration risk, as a whopping 95% of the bond issued by the Finance Ministry went to one entity known as Franklin Templeton.
The Minority Leader further pointed out that, the interest of the Minority is to prevent Ghana from being declared as a debt distress country and that the minister’s inability to furnish Parliament with the detailed information requested for by the Minority would have dire consequences on the country.
He believes that the said transaction was not done in a manner which is transparent to both participants and investors of Ghana and abroad, stressing that they (Minority) would make their voice known soon after studying the documents the Minister presented to the House.
On his part, the Member of Parliament (MP) for Bolgatanga Central, Hon. Isaac Adongo said the request by the Minority was for the Minister to produce to the House the agreement of the said transaction for Members to know the currency in which it was issued as well as what the interest rate is in the agreement.
He was of the view that, the Minority was not interested in debt management strategy, but was more interested to know the transparency that is required in delivery that debt management strategy.
According to Hon. Adongo, the Minority suspects some foul play in the said transaction as the Minister is committing the country in a debt arrangement that has dire consequences for the future of the Ghanaian economy.
He said as responsible Minority they would ensure the right thing was done for the benefit of all Ghanaians.
“The truth is that the Minister has added 5 billion cedis to the national debt profile, so he has come to the House to tell Ghanaians nothing. His presentation was only to tell Parliament how bonds are issued, but the Minority want the specific issue of the bond and how the Minister issued it,” he noted.
Commenting further, Hon. Adongo demanded to know from the Finance Minister when the said email notice to the participating investors as alluded to by the Finance Minister, was done.
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