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2019 Budget: Century Bond will end ‘hand-to-mouth existence’ – Ofori-Atta

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Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, has justified his intention to lead the country to subscribe to the rare Century Bond in the coming year.

Argentina, Austria and Mexico are the only countries that have issued the rare bond to finance infrastructure and other projects.

Related: Ghana considering floating rare $50bn Century Bond

Presenting the 2019 Budget Statement and Economic Policy in Parliament on Thursday, the Minister stated that the ultra-long-term bond is important to finance massive economic transformation plans next year.

Ken Ofori Atta 2019 budget

Photo: Ken Ofori-Atta presenting the 2019 budget on Thursday

He said these landmark economic transformation plans require a more ambitious financing arrangement and the capacity to retire about half of the country’s debts secured under a high-interest rate environment during the previous administration.

“The decision to raise these ultra-long term bonds is not intended to derail our debts sustainability path, but rather to enhance it. If we really want to uplift ourselves out of this hand-to-mouth existence and put our country Ghana on a firm trajectory of growth and prosperity, we will need to source long term affordable financing to invest in strategic infrastructure over the medium to long-term,” he told Parliament.

Related: Economist cautions govt over $50bn Century Bond

He said Ghana will issue sovereign bonds of longer tenor either as green bonds or Eurobonds on the international capital markets and also structure a Sovereign Century Fund for our bilateral investor partners.

“The Sovereign Century Fund shall engage on a bilateral basis to raise long termconcessional financing to underwrite our other commercial infrastructure needs through GIIF, GIADEC, PPP projects and other entities as well as liability management,” he stressed.

He said Ghana inherited a debt of over GH¢120 billion at very high interest rates from the previous government and although the current administration has brought down interest rates considerably the economy is still saddled with a sizeable amount of expensive debt.

“As such, in 2019, we will spend over GH¢16 billion of our revenue (over 26.6%) on interest payments. This amount can be considerably reduced if we refinance our debt at much lower interest rates,” he said.

He said the Ghana Century bond program will help provide the economy with the means to refinance these expensive liabilities.

“It is an important bulwark for Ghana’s post-IMF status; it indicates a country with a long-term plan, a country that can program its infrastructure needs, a country that canprovision for adequate foreign exchange reserves,” he stated.

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