The Ghana Individual Bondholders Forum (IBF) has urged all bondholders to hold on to their bonds and not sign unto the government’s domestic debt exchange programme (DDEP), which will introduced “haircuts” on the bonds.
According to the IBF, the bondholders under the various categories of the DDEP stand to lose considerably value of their investment if thy signed up to the programme.
It said the bondholders under Category A, which is the one designed for those below 59 years could lose up to 33 per cent of the value of their investment, Category B, which is for bondholders above 59 years could lose up 18.7 per cent, while those under Category C which includes other bondholders such as corporate institutions and banks stand to lose up to 45.4 per cent.
“The IBF recommend to its members that individuals and collective investment schemes (especially Money market funds) and the 1 million other IBs and persons who have invested in collective investment schemes hold on to their current bonds,” the IBF said in a statement yesterday.
The IBF said another reason for not signing onto the DDEP was because of the government acceptance to exempt pension funds from the programme.
According to the group, since the government will honour the bonds held by pension funds on their contractual terms, it (government) cannot decide to discriminate against other bondholders who refused to sign unto the DDEP.
“The IBF holds the view that because Pension Funds (PFs) who are exempted from the DDEP and IBs who do not opt-in to the DDEP will be holding similar bonds, GoG cannot legally discriminate against the servicing of same bonds held by different investors. All are required to be treated equally on pari passu basis
In effect, the exemption of PFs presents increases the insulation for IBs from selective abuse by government,” it said.
Lower legal protection
The IBF said bondholders must also be wary in signing up to the DDEP because it offers lower legal cover or protection to the bondholders.
It explained that the DDEP offered blanket immunity to the government in the event of default in paying the coupons (interests) or even the principal amount.
The DDEP, it said, makes it practically impossible for bondholders to attach government properties especially military and diplomatic assets in the event of default.
Such a situation, the IBF said did not augur well for the economic well- being of the country.
“The implications of this proposal are dangerous for our economy which will see a
dramatic loss of loanable funds and catastrophic social dislocation from the inequitable apportionment of the burden to reduce the size of Government debts to IBs,” it said.
According to IBF, the DDEP was totally unnecessary as the government could had changed the economic fortunes of the country by making other fiscal adjustments instead of resorting to the DDEP.
Ghana is reeling under severe economic conditions, with inflation at 54.1 per cent and the public debt at GH¢467.4 billion, representing 75.9 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
The government is currently negotiating for a $3-billion support from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and as part of measures, it has introduced a debt-restructuring programme or DDEP to enable it to bring the country’s debts to sustainable levels — about 55 per cent of GDP in the medium term.
The DDEP has, however, faced stiff opposition from many entities that hold government bonds, including individual bondholders and corporate institutions such as banks, especially rural and community banks.
The government has, since December 31, last year, revised the programme to exclude pension funds following threats by organised labour to embark on industrial action and also modified the design and extended the deadline for voluntary on-boarding three times.