A former Chief Justice of the Republic of Ghana Sophia Akuffo has rejected the inclusion of pensioners in the Domestic Debt Exchange Programme (DDEP).
Speaking to journalists after joining a group of pensioners to picket at the Ministry of Finance in Accra on Friday, February 10, she said “These are all people who have worked, they have worked very hard, they could have left the country when others were going but they stayed, they worked for the nation.
“We have had our ups and downs. A lot of us were from generations where we were encouraged to save for tomorrow and all that. We have been through times where all your savings become nonsense because of some government policies, then over the years, bit by bit, people have become more confident in the economy and investments.
“Quite a number of people here today, when they retired last two years have put everything into government bonds, it is a contract and now all of a sudden, you virtually want to force them to agree with you that the repayment of the yield of their investment should be as you dictate it. Why?”
She further criticized the government for not being able to account for the borrowings done over the years.
“Why are we in the mess? Nobody has fully explained to us, yes we took debt, what was it used for? and where is the accountability? Exactly what was it used for? You are not telling us about how you are going to be able to make things better but just that ‘help me and I help you’, no, you help yourself first, let me see you doing something serious because we have seen these sorts of things too many times.
“We are over 70 years now, I am no longer government employed, my mouth has been unguarded and I am talking and I am saying that we have failed and it is important that the elderly should be respected. I find this wicked, I find it disrespectful, I find it unlawful, I find it totally wrong.”
The pensioners have been picketing at the Ministry since Monday, February 6 to be exempted from the Programme.
The deadline for voluntary subscribers to join the Programme is Friday after the Ministry gave another extension from Tuesday, February 7.
Already, the government has reached agreements with banks, insurance companies and securities companies to join the Programme, which is meant to be part of the country’s debt restructuring exercise ahead of an extended credit facility from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
The government had assured all active workers of exempting their pension funds from the Programme but is said to have included pensioners’ funds in its revised memorandum.
Most of the pensioners say the bonds with the government is their only source of livelihood, having worked to save those monies.
The government’s seeming nonchalance to their demands forced them to begin an action, which sees them come to the Finance Ministry between 10:00 am and 11:00 am each day to press them home.