Story: Kwadwo Owusu Aduomi
Speaker of Parliament, Alban Bagbin has directed Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta to put the details of the domestic debt exchange programme (DDEP) before the House for consideration.
The Speaker suggested Tuesday, 14th February, 2023 for the briefing.
According to him, Parliament is ever prepared to help government to come out from the quagmire. Therefore it is necessary for the programme to be presented before the House.
“Honourable Members, my understanding is that both sides agree that the Minister be scheduled to come and brief the House on the policy statement and some details about the debt arrangement …Parliament has spoken that is the end of the case,” he said.
He added that pensioners picketing at the Finance Ministry make it an urgent matter.
This follows weeks of agitations by individual bondholders and pensioners who are all up in arms against the policy and urging the government to exempt them.
Prior to the directive, the North Tongu MP, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa and Bawku Central MP, Mahama Ayariga raised concerns on the floor insisting Parliament must approve of the details of the exchange programme before implementation.
According to Mr Ablakwa, he was disappointed that the programme was not added to the business statement for the week Parliament reconvened.
In light of this development, he called for the Minister to appear before Parliament.
“Mr Speaker, I appeal to you respectfully to instruct that the Minster for Finance appears before us, so that we have a full briefing, and we can debate this matter,” he pleaded.
The Bawku Central MP added that Article 181 clause 3 of the 1992 Constitution is clear that “this [DDEP] is borrowing on behalf of the state and section 55 and 56 of the Public Financial Management Act 2016 is also very clear that this is borrowing, adding that “the terms and conditions of the borrowing ordinarily must be laid before the House and must be approved by a resolution of this House.”
He stated that not only did the Finance Minister miss out on that, but he went ahead to define his own terms to negotiate with bondholders with terms and conditions that have not been approved by the House.
But, Deputy Finance Minister, Abena Osei-Asare responded to the concerns of the MPs.
She insisted that the broad policy underpinning the exchange programme has been approved by the House in the 2023 budget, but explained that the House had not been briefed because of the recess.
“Last week when we met the leadership of the Business Committee of the House, we mentioned that once Parliament comes through, we will come and brief the House on how far and steps that we have taken to get to where we are,” she added.
Despite this explanation, Speaker of Parliament Alban Bagbin directed Minister for Finance Ken Ofori-Atta to cause to be laid the details of the programme before the House and make a presentation on same to MPs.