General News of Sun, 11 Jun 201728
Bond saga: NDC should stop political joke – Franklin Cudjoe
Founding President of think tank IMANI Ghana has charged the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) to quit playing politics with the $2.25b bond issued by government.
Franklin Cudjoe believes “the minority NDC will struggle to succeed in concluding that the Finance Minister was conflicted in the cedi bond matter” adding: “there is no smoking gun” and the issue is “pure politicking” on the part of the Minority.
The Minority in parliament had expressed dissatisfaction over answers provided by Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta in parliament concerning in the latest twist to the US$2.25b bond saga.
Responding on the floor of parliament on Wednesday, June 7 to a half-motion filed by the Minority, he said the bond issued by the government two months ago was done transparently without breaching any rules, adding that attempts by the Minority to attack the process was borne out of its lack of understanding of the process.
“All prospective bidders bid through their primary dealers, who in turn submitted the investor’s bids through the Central Securities Depository platform. The joint transaction advisers then collate these bids to build up a book on which the bonds are issued,” Mr Ofori-Atta added.
“At no time during the book building process did the Ministry of Finance negotiate with any investor in any way, and it will indeed be quite difficult to manipulate the process when the three financial institutions are governed strictly by the Bank of Ghana’s rules and regulations.”
He insisted: “There were no breaches of integrity either on government’s part or on the joint book runner’s part.
“It may be tempting to say that the apparent attempt to manufacture some form of integrity deficit is generally borne out of a lack of understanding of the actual process.”
However, Deputy Minority Leader James Klutse Avedzi told Class FM’s parliamentary correspondent, Ekow Annan, that the minister did not provide satisfactory answers to the request by the minority.
For him, the minister was explaining issues not requested by minority which was filled with contradictions.
“The Finance Minister came to the house with his own prepared questions and answers talking about the processes in issuing bonds, who are the book runners and all those issues were not what we requested,” he said.
“So, I am not satisfied and even if you read the text that he provided where in answering the question ‘In which currency was the bond settled?’ he said the bond was settled in Ghana cedis and you said it has increased our national reserves [yet] we don’t have international reserves in Ghana cedis but in dollars.
“So how can you issue a bond in cedis and that bond was settled in cedis then that cedi bond goes back to increase international reserve? So I think he is shooting himself by that conflicting statement.
“The approach being used by these people trying to insult anytime we want information is not fair and not good for this country… he is telling lies.
“If truly the bond was issued in cedis, why don’t you quote the figures in cedis, why do you say US$2.25b?”
He explained that the bond was in dollars and only the servicing is in cedis and that has a negative effect on the economy.
But Mr Cudjoe sees the stance by the minority as an interesting “merry-go-round”.
“How a cedi-denominated bond becomes a triumphant dollar bond announced by the government simply gave ammunition to this grave politicking,” he added in a post on his Facebook wall on Saturday June 10.
He insists that “the ruling government wanted to show that they could raise more dollars internationally in record time than what the opposition achieved for less” and admonished the minority NDC to drop this joke and focus on other battles”.