The National Democratic Congress Member of Parliament for Bawku Central, Mahama Ayariga, has urged the Governor of the Bank of Ghana, Dr Ernest Addison, to make concerted efforts to stop the possible collapse of the financial sector and the unjust takeover of indigenous private banks due to the implementation of the domestic debt exchange (DDE) programme.
He contended that the DDE programme would emasculate domestic private banks as they would face capitalisation and liquidity problems, given that they would not receive timely and appropriate coupon payments from their bondholder, the Government of Ghana.
He also said the directive of the Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, to those banks to approach the Ghana Amalgamated Trust Plc (GAT) for support from the Ghana Financial Stability Fund (GFSF) would open them up to a takeover by investors in the GAT, if the GFSF was not wholly publicly funded.
“I further contend that political patronage and nepotism will inform the ultimate purchase of the shares in the private banks once GAT begins to dispose of these shares to realise the investments made in those banks (if GAT is not publicly funded),” he said.
Illegal and unconstitutional
In a letter, dated January 30, 2023 which he wrote to the Governor of the BoG, Mr Ayariga, said the policy and strategic options chosen by the Finance Minister enabled the illegal and unconstitutional expropriation of the private property of the present owners of domestic private banks and, possibly, private international banks operating in Ghana.
“I call for the mobilisation of the available intellectual competencies and political forces to defend the bona fide property rights of owners of private banks in Ghana. Not to do so with a sense of urgency will constitute the greatest dereliction of duty of our political class.
“And the collapse of present owners of these banks and the takeover of these banking interests, similar to what was orchestrated in the PDS saga and the intended ‘Agyapa’ deal, will capriciously, unlawfully and criminally transfer enormous wealth and concentrate it in the hands of those who might enjoy the patronage of the Minister of Finance. This could disorient our democracy and potentially destabilise our politics. The history of the recent banking sector “cleanup” remains fresh in our memory,” he said.
The letter was also copied to the Chief Executive (CEO) of the Ghana Bankers Association, the CEO of GAT, the Speaker of Parliament, the Attorney General and the Minister of Justice, the leadership of Parliament, the board chairmen of all banks in Ghana as well as the Country Director of the World Bank office.
Shedding light on the background informing his letter to the BoG Governor, Mr Ayariga recalled the Finance Minister announcing a debt restructuring programme involving a debt exchange by government domestic bond holders.
He said Ghana’s total external debt stood at about GH¢383 billion as of November 2022. Domestic debt constituted GH¢195 billion, with the total debt, therefore, amounting to GH¢578 billion in November 2022.
Banks in Ghana, he said, held about half of the entire domestic bonds of the Government of Ghana and individuals held 11 per cent of the government bonds.
He recalled how the Minister of Finance had compelled domestic banks to “voluntarily” engage in a debt exchange with the government in relation to the bonds they held.
“This involves reduced coupons and deferred payments. Definitely, the liquidity, solvency and capitalisation of these banks will be negatively affected.