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Aggrieved pensioners to picket Finance Ministry over inclusion in DDEP

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A group, calling itself the Pensioner Bondholders Forum, has vowed to picket at the Ministry of Finance to register their displeasure over government’s decision to include them in the Domestic Debt Exchange Programme (DDEP).

In a statement signed by the lead convener, Dr Adu Antwi, the retirees indicated that they are opposed to government’s decision to rope them into the programme.

According to them, participating in the programme will have ‘severe’ consequences on them, hence their refusal.

“On 10th January 2023, we submitted a petition to the Minister of Finance to exempt all pensioners holding Government Bonds from the Domestic Debt Exchange Programme on the same basis used for the exemption of Pension Funds from the programme, as the impact of the programme on pensioners who are bondholders will be very severe.

We have as of today not been granted the exemption we requested”, portions of the statement read.

A copy of the statement from the aggrieved retirees

Based on their exemption not being granted, the pensioners noted they will march to the streets to draw government’s attention to their request, starting February 6.

“To further press home our request, we have notified the Police that about 50 of our members intend to converge at the premises of the Ministry of Finance on every working day from 10am- 11am, beginning from Monday 6th February 2023 till our request is granted by the Minister.

This is to inform the Press that we shall converge at the premises of the Ministry of Finance on Monday, 6th February 2023 and Tuesday, 7th of February 2023″, the statement further disclosed.

It continued, “Given the age and frailty of most of our members, we have arranged a group of 50 of our members to take part in the convergence.

The continuation of the convergence will depend on the response we get from the Minister before the time fixed for the closure of the invitation made to holders of Government Bonds, which is 4:00pm on Tuesday, 7th February 2023″.

The warning by the retirees adds to the public resentments which have so far greeted the DDEP.

Earlier, a group, known as the Individual Bond Holders Association (IBHAG), led by Senyo Hosi and private legal practitioner, Martin Kpebu, expressed similar concerns to government, leading to their exemption from the programme.

Meanwhile, Tamale North MP, Alhassan Suhuyini, has blamed government for the challenges surrounding the implementation of its proposed Domestic Debt Exchange Programme (DDEP).

The NDC lawmaker said the current state of the programme is due to government’s arrogant posture despite cautions sounded about certain decisions taken earlier.

Contributing to discusssions on Newsfile on Saturday, he said as far back as 2018, there were calls for government to take a critical look at the economy.

He noted that these well-meaning calls were blatantly ignored by government, leading to the current economic crisis and the attendant problems surrounding the debt exchange programme.

Referring to the government, he said “We were arrogant. We were intransigent. We refused to listen to sound advice. In fact when we were told that our economy was in crisis in 2018, 2019, or was heading there, it was denied”.

The MP continued, “It was pooh-poohed. And by 2020, the COVID had hit and exposed the fact that our government had been managing the economy carelessly. And that they had finished wasting the inheritances that they came to meet”.

In the face of what appears to be a turbulent situation for government, the MP has however called for a national debt forum to thoroughly discuss the debt exchange programme, as part of efforts to help rebuild the country’s ailing economy.

According to the NDC lawmaker, it is obvious from the opposition it has generated, that the Debt Exchange Programme is not the best way out of the current level of indebtedness of the country.

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