Former President John Dramani Mahama says he is not against the debt restructuring programme currently being implemented by the Akufo-Addo-led administration but against the absence of dialogue.
In an address at Chatham House in London on Friday, January 27, on the theme “Africa’s Strategic Priorities and Global Role” the former President said Ghana has to restructure its debt to revive the economy but lamented the wrong procedure adopted by the Finance Minister which he said has led to the massive rejection of the programme by Individual Bondholders and various labour unions.
“I am not opposed to debt restructuring. What has been the contention is the lack of dialogue and consultation with the debt holders on the domestic side. I know that negotiations are taking place with the bondholders on the external side but not the same treatment on the domestic side.
“I have been an advocate for dialogue. Before this whole crisis started, I advised the government and said they should hold a national dialogue on the economy, give us the state of the economy and let everybody understand and after that seek broad consensus behind the economic programme. But this was never done and what we expected will happen, happened.”
The former President said the government failed to heed numerous pieces of advice from the opposition on cutting down borrowing and spending scarce resources prudently.
He blamed the mismanagement and recklessness of the Akufo-Addo government for the current economic crisis.
“We had been raising the red flag since 2019 about the government’s reckless borrowing. Going onto the Eurobond market every year for 3 billion dollars and not investing it in the productive sectors of the economy and using most of it for consumption and that is what has ended us where we are.”
In the government’s quest to address the country’s economic woes, the government launched the Debt Exchange Programme to invite holders of bonds to voluntarily exchange approximately GH¢137 billion domestic notes and bonds of the Republic including ESLA and Daakye for a package of new bonds.
The domestic debt exchange program since its announcement has faced huge opposition from labour groups that managed to get pension funds exempted. Several groups made up of individual bondholders have also rejected the programme by the government.
The Individual Bondholders Forum on Thursday petitioned Togbe Afede XIV, the Agbogbomefia of the Asogli State, to help them get an exemption from the Domestic Debt Exchange Programme.
Addressing the former President of the National House of Chiefs on Thursday, the Convener of the Individual Bondholders Forum, Senyo Hosi said: “Togbe the matter is an eye red matter and for someone who has led the capital market and being one of the players who birthed the capital market, besides your royal place as the Agbogbomefia of the Asogli State, you are a pioneer in this industry, I do not want to believe this is your voice and the destination you assured us when your voice was heard back then.
“So we are here to petition your office, to petition you as an individual and the state of Asogli not to sit by and watch the lives of 6.5 million people devastated and subjected to shackles of penury. So our plea here is very simple, the steps being taken by the government are unsustainable and very unnecessary.”