Finance Ministry Describes NDC Minority’s Stand On Energy Bond as "Inconsistent & Baffling"

| Updated Nov 10, 2017 at 4:38am

 

Ken Ofori Atta, Finance Minister.

 

The Ministry of Finance has described the assertion by Minority National Democratic Congress, (NDC) members on Energy-sector Bond, issued by the ESLA PLC, as inconsistent and baffling.

According to the a statemet from the ministry, the claim smacks of “intellectual dishonesty” or “mischief”.

The statement which was issued by the Public Affairs Unit of the Finance Ministry, in Accra, on Thursday, said the NDC Minority’s statement was fraught with various "factual untruths deliberately spun to allow them to reach their own preferred conclusions".

The Minority either did not fully understand the assumptions underlying the Bond Structure, and thus, failed to do the Mathematics right or it was just being plainly malicious, that's according to the statement.

The statement further explained that, the Minority’s claim that the seven-year Bond closed at GH¢1.5 billion was inaccurate.

Adding that, a published information by E.S.L.A. PLC indicated that, the Bond was rather oversubscribed at GH¢2.53 billion, and the Bond issuer chose to accept GH¢2.4 billion at the cut-off interest rate of 19 per cent.

The claim that the 10-year bond was first closed at GH¢760 million was false because the Bids received in the first week alone amounted to GH¢872 million and not GH¢760 million as claimed by the NDC Minority, saying this information was public and verifiable. The statement said.

“The Minority claims the 10-year bond after extension closed at GH¢2.2 billion, again is false.”

Total bids received for the 10-year bond was GH¢2.79 billion of which E.S.L.A. PLC accepted GH¢2.29 billons at an interest rate of 19.5 per cent,” it emphasised.

It said in total, the E.S.L.A. PLC received bids of GHC 5.32 billion (GH¢2.53 billion for the 7-year and GH¢2.8 billion for the 10-year), representing 89% of the targeted amount of GH¢6 billion for the first tranche under the Bond Program.

E.S.L.A. PLC chose to accept the total amount of GH¢ 4.70 billion out of a possible GH¢5.32 billion; representing 78% of the targeted amount as this was what it preferred within its target price range of 19%-19.5%, it said.

Explaining further, the ministry said the Bond issuer made a decision based on a cost/yields consideration, which was prudent and not a failure.

“The Minority claimed that the projected consumption of petroleum products, used as a basis for projecting ESLA inflows was unrealistic. This was based on their assumption that monthly fuel consumption was equal through-out the year,” it said.

It said the historical data on consumption patterns, however, proved that this was a flawed assumption since fuel consumption in the second half of the year was often higher as a result of increased economic activity and seasonal weather patterns.

It said the E.S.L.A. PLC’s projected consumption of petroleum products was accurate and conservative and remained in line with historical patterns.

“The Minority claim that E.S.L.A. PLC could not meet the Debt Service Coverage Ratio (DSCR) of 1.25% but rather scored 1.1% DSCR,” it said. “They arrived at the 1.1% by dividing the expected inflows from the Energy Debt Recovery Levy of GH¢1.281 billion by GH¢1.158 billion in total interest payments for both the 7-year and 10-year bonds (i.e. 1.281/1.158 = 1.1)

“The Minority, however, did not recognise the addition of GH¢600 million Government of Ghana cash support (to be provided on demand) component, as stated in the prospectus, to the GH¢1.28 billion.

“They also did not add the starting cash of GH¢ 350 million in the Energy Debt Recovery Levy (EDRL) Account.

“It is instructive to note that the addition of the two missing components in the Minority’s assumptions, gives a total amount of approximately GH¢2.231 billion making the ratio now 1.926% (2.231/1.158). “This is far greater than the required 1.25% DSCR.”

The statement said it is unbelievable how the Minority would want the energy debts to be considered part of Government debt, when in 2016, the same NDC Government restructured about GH¢2 billion debt owed to commercial banks under ‘the VRA Phase One Restructuring Program’ using ESLA proceeds as a payment source.

“If ‘VRA Phase One’ and TOR debt restructuring were deemed prudent at the time by the NDC, and treated as a non-sovereign transaction, why not the E.S.L.A. PLC’s Bonds?”

It, therefore, described the NDC Minority’s stand on the “Energy Bond as inconsistent and baffling.”

Last Wednesday, the Minority Caucus in Parliament organised a press conference, saying the Government’s issuance of the Bond failed to achieve its targets because the process was fraught with irregularities.

It described the move as a total failure, which has caused financial loss to the State.


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