Government extends domestic debt exchange deadline for third time

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Ghana has extended the deadline to register for its domestic debt exchange, this time to Jan. 31, Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta said on Monday.

The crisis-hit nation launched the debt swap plan at the start of December, days before clinching a staff-level agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a $3 billion rescue package.

“Building consensus is key to a successful economic recovery for Ghana,” Ofori-Atta wrote on Twitter, adding that registration for the debt exchange would be extended “pending further stakeholder engagement”.

The IMF has said its board will approve the deal only if Ghana undergoes comprehensive debt restructuring.

The deadline for the debt swap, initially set for Dec. 19, had previously been extended to Dec. 30 and then to Jan. 16.

Revisions to the initial offer exempted pensioners after a public outcry but later brought in individual bondholders who were originally exempted.

Ghana last week offered to pay holders of its 2023 bond a 2% cash fee in exchange for registering for the exchange, but opposition to the programme has remained pervasive.

“Ghana spent a lot of money solving the problems it had with its banks from the 2014-2015 crisis, so you want to think very carefully to avoid jeopardizing them,” said Gregory Smith, emerging markets fund manager at London-based M&G Investments.

(Reporting by Cooper Inveen and Christian Akorlie; Additional reporting by Jorgelina do Rosario; Writing by Sofia Christensen and Cooper Inveen; Editing by Estelle Shirbon, Alexander Winning, Kirsten Donovan

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