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$2.25bn bond to clear Mahama debts: MP

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The US$2.25 billion bond issued by Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta was purposed to deal with the huge debts left behind by the John Mahama administration, Kwasi Ameyaw-Cheremeh, Majority Chief Whip and Member of Parliament for Sunyani East, has said.

According to him, Minority MPs should be applauding the Akufo-Addo-led government for the step taken to pay off the huge debt they left behind, instead of making baseless claims against the Finance Minister.

His comments follow the allegation by former Deputy Minister Cassiel Ato Forson that it was strange for a bond to be issued and closed within a day, contrary to the normal practice of a minimum of three days.

According to Mr Forson and the Minority in Parliament, Mr Trevor G. Trefgarne, a director at Franklyn Templeton, the institution that bought 95 per cent of the bond, is also a Director at Enterprise Group Limited, a company of which Ghana’s Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta is co-founder, thus raising issues of transparency, conflict of interest, and suspicion.

In the view of Mr Forson and the Minority, Mr Ofori-Atta “cooked” the bond issuance for his “friend” and “relative”.

He said even though Franklyn Templeton had taken part in previous bonds issued in Ghana, it had never bought such a significant amount of any single bond in the past.

“Franklyn Templeton never took 95 per cent in any single bond issuance; Franklyn Templeton never came to Ghana with a 2 billion investment in one single day. That is the difference. There has never been in the history of Ghana that we’ve issued a book-building approach bond where Franklyn Templeton comes in in the morning, the book is opened in the morning and then in the evening it’s closed, it’s normally done in a minimum of three days. Why was this cooked for his friend? Why was it cooked for a relative and someone that you have a business relationship with?” Mr Forson wondered in an interview with Moro Awudu on Class91.3FM’s Executive Breakfast Show on Wednesday, 19 April.

But reacting to these comments in an interview with Chief Jerry Forson, host of Ghana Yensom, on Accra100.5FM on Wednesday, 19 April, Mr Cheremeh said: “The claims are baseless. If they [the Minority] were looking for conflict of interest, then they should have questioned former President Mahama who awarded contracts to his brother.

“Mr Mahama awarded contracts to his brother Ibrahim in the road sector as well as several other government contracts that were awarded to him. By then the NDC Members [of] Parliament did not see any conflict of interest issue with it.

“With brothers they didn’t see any conflict of interest, but with a distant friend they see a conflict of interest.”

He added: “Nobody in the NPP said we would not borrow. We said the NDC government was just borrowing excessively, yet there were not too many development projects from the borrowing. If you sum up the amount of money they borrowed, you will realise that they did not inject the money into the projects they claimed they were embarking on. We said we would borrow but the money will be used in developing the country. We said Ghanaians would get value for money from the borrowing.”

“This bond that we issued, it was purposed to deal with the huge debt we have on our hands following the excessive borrowing by the NDC government. We never issued the bond for birthday parties and other functions, the bond was issued to deal with the huge debts they left behind and so they should rather be joyful that we are able to pay their debts. For instance, the Nigeria Gas debt left behind by the NDC has been paid and so they should ask how the President was able to pay and stop making these baseless claims.”

Source: Ghana/AccraFM.com/100.5FM

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