Government’s DDEP proposals not based on legality – Former Chief Justice

Former Chief Justice Akufo

Madam Sophia Akuffo, a former Chief Justice, says the Government’s decision to extend maturity periods and reduce returns on bonds of citizens under the Domestic Debt Exchange Programme (DDEP) was not based on “legality” hence it should not be forced on citizens.

She advised administrators of the economy against insisting on citizens accepting unfavourable terms, to rather focus on cutting expenditure and wastage in the system, adding that, “you don’t want to do anything about it, and you want me to take a haircut.”

“It is a contract, and at the end of the day that is all that it is. When I owe somebody, the most I can do is to try and see if they would agree to change the terms of our agreement, but you cannot shove it down our throats,” she said in an interview on Friday.

The retiree made the remarks when she joined the Pensioners Bondholders Forum who have since Monday picketed the Finance ministry to demand for their total exemption from the programme.

Madam Akuffo said any attempt to include Pensioner Bondholders in DDEP was “wrong, unlawful, wicked and disrespectful”.

“You don’t solve your problems by sacrificing your aged. That is the last thing you should do especially when you don’t have services that are geared towards the comfort and relief of the aged,” she said.

She indicated that the decision of the Government to not exempt pensioners from the programme was an unfair way to reward people who chose to stay and tirelessly work to build a nation at the expense of better opportunities that existed abroad.

“We have invested a lot in this nation, we have invested our health, we have invested our youth, we have invested out time as pensioners and worked faithfully and that is why we earned pensions,” she said.

She has therefore urged citizens to reject the programme adding that “a contract is a contract, and it has to be respected. If you want to renegotiate, come to the table with humility and a ‘yesable’ preposition, not a take or leave.”

While the Government maintains that signing up to the DDEP was voluntary, it said “it reserves the right to ensure that “old” bonds do not benefit from their non-participation in the domestic debt exchange.”

Dr Anane Antwi, the Convener of the Forum, said it was encouraging for a personality of such repute to show solidarity to fellow pensioners even though she wasn’t part of the forum.

“It is good to see people like that support our cause. And we would like to thank her for joining us,” he said.

The Forum also said it would be joining the Minister of Finance in Parliament “to listen and observe” when he appears before the Business Committee of house to brief members of Parliament on the DDEP.

Source: GNA

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