CHAMBER NATIONAL DIALOGUE SERIES
The Ghana National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GNCCI) hosted the maiden edition of the Chamber National Dialogue Series
The programme was under the theme "Impact of the Domestic Debt Exchange Programme on the Private Sector of Ghana." The dialogue series aimed to address the effects of the Domestic Debt Exchange Programme (DDEP) on the private sector and explore necessary business strategies and policy adjustments to mitigate losses.
The event was well attended by industry experts, academics, policymakers, and businessmen and women who shared their knowledge, experience, and insights on their assigned topics towards developing policy briefs. The state of the Ghanaian economy was a major issue for stakeholders and the pragmatic steps needed to achieve lasting solutions to structural and cyclical issues were discussed.
In particular, this maiden edition featured distinguished experts including, Prof. Peter Quartey, Mr. Senyo Hosi, and Dr. Richmond Akwasi Atuahene, who offered their perspectives on the DDEP and proposed solutions for the future. The programme consisted of four main parts: Opening, Topical Presentation & Engagement, Experiential Session & Engagement, and Closing.
In his opening remarks, the President of the GNCCI, Mr. Clement Osei-Amoako, expressed concerns over the state of the Ghanaian economy and emphasized the need for practical measures to address structural and cyclical challenges such as high inflation, rising interest rates, cedi depreciation, increasing debt levels and a tightening policy rate. He highlighted the importance of balancing the inherent losses of the DDEP and making corresponding adjustments in fiscal and monetary policies. He suggested that an independent and thorough analysis with varied perspectives from stakeholders would be crucial in providing key learnings for the attainment of the DDEP objectives.
Prof. Peter Quartey, the Director of the Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER) at the University of Ghana, spoke on the impact of the Domestic Debt Exchange Programme on the private sector of Ghana and the requisite adjustments. He discussed the impact of the DDEP on the private sector of Ghana and the wider economy, highlighting the potential risks and opportunities for businesses in the country. He also spoke about the implications of the DDEP on the quest for industrialization and Ghana beyond Aid agenda. He called for radical measures to address the challenges of the Ghanaian economy in light of the DDEP.
Mr. Senyo Hosi, the convener of the Ghana Individual Bondholders Forum, provided valuable insights into the perspective of individual bondholders regarding the DDEP and mitigated measures. He addressed key questions such as how the government has engaged individual stakeholders on the DDEP and what the expected impact of the DDEP will be on individual bondholders and their mindset towards government bonds. He highlighted the importance of achieving the objectives of the DDEP with mitigated impact and suggested possible ways to achieve this. He stressed the need for transparency and effective communication from the government to individual bondholders, as well as the need for measures to protect the interests of individual bondholders.
Dr. Richmond Akwasi Atuahene, a banking consultant, presented on the topic of the DDEP-contagion on the financial sector and mitigating measures. He highlighted the potential medium- and long-term effects of the DDEP on the financial sector and financial stability, and explored alternatives to complement or replace the current approach to mitigate the impact. He emphasized that the financial sector is a critical component of the economy, and any negative impact on the sector could have significant ripple effects on the wider economy. He suggested the development of a well-functioning secondary market for government securities and improved communication and engagement with stakeholders in the financial sector to mitigate any negative effects.
In a closing statement Mr. Osei-Amoako, the President of the Chamber acknowledged the significance of the DDEP in reinstating macroeconomic stability and safeguarding the most vulnerable segments of society. He stressed the need for businesses to comprehend the implications of the policy and devise suitable business strategies. “The GNCCI will express the viewpoint of the private sector on the DDEP, propose policies and actions, and engage with policymakers and institutions to mitigate the impact on the private sector and the overall economy,” he said.
The DDEP, announced by the Ministry of Finance in December 2022, was introduced to address the rising and unsustainable debt levels accrued over the years. It became necessary due to the lack of access to the international bonds market and as a precondition to accessing the IMF bailout to address the balance of payment challenges. However, the implementation of the DDEP faced prompt reactions from stakeholders, resulting in several revisions in the program.