Bright Simons, Vice President of IMANI Africa, has questioned how over 85 percent of qualified bondholders signed up for the Domestic Debt Exchange programme (DDEP) in just 24 hours instead of 50 percent.
Simons is particularly curious about how 35 percent of bondholders signed on within a 24-hour duration citing ‘customized’ calculations on the part of government to suit the high final participation rate of 85 percent.
“So, the government of Ghana has decided to choose its own arbitrary number for tendered outstanding principal & declared an 80%+ participation rate. Great!
“So, that means maximum DEBT RELIEF. Creditors want no stories going forward about debt service. We will all see by mid-year budget,” he tweeted on February 14 before offering further explanation in a follow-up tweet.
Bright Simons also explained how government through its consultants adjusted the matrix for calculating the participation rate to allow it arrive at a higher participation rate.
“I see that government of Ghana has been getting full worth from those high end consultants from Lazard. As soon as they saw resistance they began to adjust the principal of outstanding debt to ensure the right participation rate. From GHS137bn to GHS130bn to GHS97bn,” he tweeted.
He posited further that most analysts had pegged the highest rate government could arrive at was between 60 to 63 percent but the adjustments made a higher rate possible.
“So essentially if you use any of the old outstanding principal numbers (focus only on the grand total at the bottom), you get 60% to 63% participation rate, as per analysts’ projections. But who cares at this point,” he added.
The Ministry Finance on February 13 announced that over 80 percent of local bondholders signed on to the DDEP in a statement that stated the closure of the programme as February 10, 2023.
“The Government’s Domestic Debt Exchange Programme (DDEP) closed on Friday 10th February 2023 with over 80% participation of eligible bonds. The government wants to thank the people of Ghana for their forbearance and support throughout the very difficult times,” the statement said.
The ministry further emphasised that participation in the programme was voluntary and that the right of bondholders to self-exempt was never in doubt.
“However, under the circumstances, Government at the same time, always made a strong but humble appeal to bondholders to participate in the DDEP; seeing it as a very critical act of burden-sharing in the ongoing national effort to tackle the economic crisis, bring back microeconomic stability and guarantee sustainable growth and prosperity for the people of Ghana,” the ministry said.
While emphasising the significance of the exercise and the impact the economy would have felt if it was not undertaken, the ministry stressed that government’s commitment to honour payments to bondholders who elected not to participate in the exercise.
“We would like to stress that, all individual bondholders, especially our senior citizens should be rest assured that their coupon payments and maturing principles, like government bonds, will be honoured in line with government’s fiscal commitments,” the statement said.