The Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, has entreated the pensioner bondholders forum to refrain from picketing for an exemption from the Domestic Debt Exchange Programme.
According to him, the voluntary exercise has concluded, and government will honor its obligations to bondholders, including retirees who voluntarily opted not to participate in the programme.
Addressing pensioners on Wednesday, February 15, 2023, the finance minister stated that the picketing is now unnecessary.
“Really, there is no reason for us to be sitting here because that assurance has been given on paper. I want to know what it is that you are afraid of or that you think will not happen. My issue is that now you have very little of the old bonds existing. This means that, in the event of a crisis, your ability to trade your papers is diminished. But that is the choice you made.”Ken Ofori-Atta
Mid-sentence, Mr Ofori-Atta was interrupted during his address to the pensioner bondholders who picketed at the finance ministry. Oliver Barker-Vormawor, a convener for pressure group, #FixTheCountry, who had come to lend support to the picketers accused the Minister of untrustworthiness.
This interruption infuriated the Minister who was subsequently whisked away by his security.
Mr Vormawor revealed that the picketing by pensioner is important because their conversation has been about “building a protest culture”. He explained that the protest is a culture where persons affected by public policy decisions by political officers do not sit aside but raise their voice and match that voice with the determination to show up when it matters.
“When these things are happening, it is also important that persons are inspired by this in the spirit of resilience. So, with what these pensioners have shown, it is important that we the young ones also show up for them by mobilizing people to carry forward the message of resistance expressed even with their age.”Oliver Barker-Vormawor
President urged to intervene in pensioners plight
For the past eight days, the group has been picketing at the Finance Ministry, demanding that the government excludes them from the domestic debt swap.
Meanwhile, a former New Patriotic Party (NPP) Member of Parliament for Tema East, Titus Glover, has appealed to President Akufo-Addo to intervene and have a second look at the inclusion of pensioners in the Domestic Debt Exchange Programme (DDEP),
Mr Glover indicated that the issues that have been raised by the pensioners are legitimate for which reason, the President must step in.
“I am a bit sad and uncomfortable when I am running commentaries on some of these things because my mother, coming Sunday will be 79 years. If my late father were to be alive today, he would be 85. So, clearly, when you talk about issues about pensioners it makes you to be a bit careful… If these old men and women are picketing at the Finance Ministry to raise attention, I think it is their right to do so and to appeal that they exempt them from all that they are doing.”Titus Glover
Touching on the decision by a former Chief Justice, Sophia Akuffo, to join the picketing, Mr Glover stated that the significance of the former Chief Justice makes the whole issue quite “problematic”. He stated that it is her right to join her colleague older people and looking at the personality she could have decided to forgo participation in the programme.
“Just like the government agreed that it’s not going to touch on the pension funds of workers, it is important that He the President must relook at this issue that our old men and women are talking about. These are people who have contributed. I make a passionate appeal to the President that looking at what is happening it doesn’t give us a good impression about us as a government and the need for him to intervene and make sure that we bring some sanity.
“Because every day that [the pensioners] go there and raise the issues, they are talking about, it is not good for government and sincerely, I think the President must intervene. The president listens, he has advisors, I want to appeal to him to intervene.”Titus Glover