General News of Monday, 19 November 2012
Source: Communications Directorate
The New Patriotic Party (NPP) say President John Dramani Mahama’s inability to confront and fight corruption within his own administration and the NDC Party is because he (Mahama) is unable to offer credible answers to serious allegations of corruption raised against his person.
The opposition party said many of the processes President Mahama led in Government when he was the Vice President, were deeply tainted with suspicions of corruption for his personal gain.
Cataloguing a litany of cases to buttress their point that Mr Mahama is complicit in the transaction of ‘dubious deals’, the NPP, in a statement issued today and signed by a Deputy Director of Communications, Yaw Buaben Asamoa, said “instead of fulfilling a constitutional obligation of transparency and accountability owed to the public as of right”, the President “has taken to evasive responses, branding citizens demanding accountability from him as ‘irresponsible’ and daring them to take him to the institutions of accountability.”
“If the NDC Government and party under President John Dramani Mahama were not complicit in the fraudulent payments, why is no action being taken against any political appointee? The fact that no serious actions are being taken against appointees’ including the Hon. Barton Oduro for example who has been directly cited as undermining his boss to avoid investigations and prosecutions shows how weak the President is when it comes to confronting corruption. Or is it because his own appointees feel he has more questions to answer than them so we have a moral blackmail situation?” Yaw Buaben Asamoa asked
Below is a copy of the NPP’s statement.
PREZ MAHAMA LACKS POLITICAL WILL TO FIGHT CORRUPTION
The New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the nation continue to mourn the sudden passing of the late Alhaji Aliu Mahama, former Vice President of the Republic of Ghana. The NPP believes that the best way of honouring his memory is to continue the battle for transparency, accountability and equity. The late former Vice President insisted passionately that poverty was the enemy and only a viable battle against indiscipline, especially corruption in all its forms, would pave the way to prosperity.
H.E President Mahama’s inability to confront and fight corruption within the Presidency, Government and the NDC Party is because the President himself is unable to offer credible answers to serious allegations of corruption raised against his person. Many of the processes he has led in Government as Vice President were deeply tainted with suspicions of corruption for his personal gain.
LACK OF TRUST
A Vice President who was willing to underwrite USD264m in political risk insurance to STX when the UN’s MIGA could have done so for USD 20m cannot be trusted to negotiate in the best interests of Ghana. Over the last four years, there is no evidence that the NDC has achieved value for money and another four years under the leadership of President John Mahama could result in Ghana being mortgaged lock, stock and barrel.
In his State of the Nation Address of 2011, the late President Mills said on corruption and I quote,
“About a fortnight ago, Ghanaians watched a shocking expose of corrupt activities and practices involving revenue collection at the Tema Port. Last year, there was a similar expose on cocoa smuggling along the country’s borders.”
The President was referring to the Armajaro cocoa smuggling case. As early as the second year of the Mills/Mahama administration, Vice-President John Dramani Mahama helped Armajaro to get back their suspended cocoa trading licence, even though the matter shocked the late President Mills and Ghana so much that it merited mention in a state of the nation address. The matter of British Foreign Office officials lobbying then Vice President John Mahama to drop the case raised serious questions in the UK. Yet Ghanaians have been denied an investigation of exactly what motivated the move against the collective interest of Ghanaians.
In the same year 2010, Vice President Mahama secretly wrote to the Pierson Capital Group, prepared to commit Ghana to international loan exposures without the knowledge of President Mills. After vehemently denying the letter as a forgery and threatening an investigation by the CID, the Vice President’s Office lamely admitted authorship but yet again without explanation about the then Vice President’s motives.
President John Dramani Mahama led the processes that committed Ghana to the purchase of the grossly bloated Embraer 190 Aircraft and hanger purchase. In 2008, the Armed Forces had negotiated to acquire a hangar at USD5m. Two years later, Vice President Mahama returns from Rio de Janeiro with a cost of USD 17m, a whopping difference of USD12m. We are told that an extra fuel tank on the Aircraft cost USD8m whilst the staircase was said to be worth USD1m.
President Mills was not only scandalised by the corruption. He went ahead to ask that a committee be set up to investigate the deal.
The NDC Government of President Mahama is yet to deny the categorical assertion by former Attorney-General Martin Amidu that President Mills agreed to an investigation of the then Vice President. We are told that under pressure, a three man committee headed by Mr. Aboah never saw the light of day even though it had terms of reference drafted to investigate the inflated aircraft purchase. Was H.E President John Dramani Mahama ever aware of attempts from within the Presidency to investigate him?
The weight of corruption was so heavy in the Government that the late President, H.E J.E.A Mills, in just two sentences on corruption in the 2012 State of the Nation Address, said,
“Let me state here and now that I remain undaunted by attempts to thwart the fight against corruption by legal and technical means. I do not care whose ox is gored when it comes to the fight against corruption and neither will I be off-tracked by all the sideline (sic) comments that are being made to befuddle the hardcore (sic) issues”
The burning question is, who was using legal and technical means to thwart the President? Why did the President feel so frustrated that he had to insist to Parliament that he did not care whose ox was gored? Did H.E John Dramani Mahama know about these frustrations, as he informs us he was the trusted one left to do the job? Or were suspicions of his personal involvement the direct cause of the late President Mills’ frustration? If President Mills could not trust John Mahama when it came to sweetheart deals, why should Ghanaian voters trust him?
Perhaps the apex of NDC Government sponsored corruption is the organised systematic stealing of state funds held in trust by the NDC Government on behalf of the people of Ghana through the payment of fraudulent settlement debts and compensation claims. As head of the Economic Management Team and self-confessed leader of Government business at the time the payments were being made, President Mahama ought to have known about the fraudulent nature of the settlement debt payments. If he did not know, then as President, his current response should have been more vigorous than the Sole Commissioner’s Office with dubious legality and no teeth, which has been given a year to work itself into irrelevance.
Again, the Government has not been able to deny any of the assertions made by former Attorney-General, Honourable Martin Amidu in the settlement debts cover up. If the NDC Government and party under President John Dramani Mahama were not complicit in the fraudulent payments, why is no action being taken against any political appointee?
The fact that no serious actions are being taken against appointees’ including the Hon. Barton Oduro for example who has been directly cited as undermining his boss to avoid investigations and prosecutions shows how weak the President is when it comes to confronting corruption. Or is it because his own appointees feel he has more questions to answer than them so we have a moral blackmail situation? Why are the cases in court not being pursued with vigour? And why is the Attorney-General actively stalling the Public Accounts Committee?
The “Public Agenda”, a newspaper that I dare say cannot be faulted as partisan, was so disgusted by the late President’s inability to punish the corrupt elements in the Government in the face of his rhetoric to Parliament that on its front page earpiece of February 20, 2012, it had this quotation above a picture of the late President;
“when we get to the point where embezzlement, misappropriation and stealing of huge amounts belonging to the state ceases to shock anymore, and citizens make jokes out of the situation, while the President pretends to be doing something about it, when all he is doing is attempting to cover up, then hei! Man, we are there…the era of impunity”
Ladies and gentlemen, if the public view as reflected in this newspaper believed the Government was trying to cover up, then why the futile attempts to continue doing so? Is it because the NDC Government does not respect the basic norms of transparency and accountability? Or could the late Presidents’ statement in Parliament have been a cry for help to fight people in his Government ‘thwarting’ him from fighting corruption? This is a very dangerous position in which to place the presidency. The font of authority appears so compromised it has no authority to protect the Ghanaian people?
MORE QUESTIONS DEMANDING ANSWERS
Instead of fulfilling a constitutional obligation of transparency and accountability owed to the public as of right, President John Dramani Mahama has taken to evasive responses, branding citizens demanding accountability from him as ‘irresponsible’ and daring them to take him to the institutions of accountability.
Unfortunately for His Excellency, mere denials and name calling is not enough to fight corruption. Article 41 (f) of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana makes it mandatory for Ghanaians “to protect and preserve public property and expose and combat misuse and waste of public funds and property”.
It is in that context and acting literally in pursuit of the NDC manifesto promise to encourage ‘citizens to demand accountability and “blow the whistle” on corrupt officials and practices as well as refusing to ‘make any excuses for corrupt ministers, officials and office holders generally. (and) …promptly investigate allegations of corruption and allow the law to take its course’, that the following specific questions are asked.
1. HUAWEI: - Is the President going to investigate how a foreign company that has been granted heavy tax waivers happens to be importing NDC party paraphernalia for election 2012? Invoices addressed to Huawei offices in Accra are available if the Government cares to investigate itself for the benefit of tax paying Ghanaians.
2. MERCHANT BANK: - Ghanaians have been treated to a bizarre diet of unofficial denial whilst SSNIT continues on an unaccountable path of jeopardizing contributor funds. Probably in response to a more demanding financial industry transparency and disclosure regime in South Africa, First Rand Bank on the 2-11-12 is reported to have affirmed the sale.
So who is lying to contributors? As recently as 15-10-12, the MD of the Bank wrote to BOG, copy all shareholders that, the reason the bank had to be sold was because of the crippling effect of its non-performing loan (NPL) portfolio. At the heart of the NPL (now lodged with the MART) is the unsecured loan granted E&P Ltd in excess of the single obligor limit of the Bank. Official correspondence intimates that despite huge sums of contributor funds injected by SSNIT and converted to equity, the challenge to viability “will only go away when bail-out funds in the sum of the MART total debt is received otherwise the Bank will continue to struggle”.
These bailout funds are being provided by SSNIT using USD79m of contributor funds to acquire the ‘bad loan’ holding MART (registration no. CA 82,434). Furthermore, SSNIT has accepted to indemnify First Rand Bank against any claims arising from MART and hazard more contributor funds to pay the salaries and operational expenses of MART in an attempt to recover the debts that Merchant Bank could not recover. Yet on the 1-10-12, SSNIT used contributor funds to buy a full page advert on page 29 of the “Ghanaian Times” to deny that “SSNIT will never relegate its collective responsibility of keeping the sustainability of the contributors’ pension fund to the defrayment of independent debts contracted through an independent investee company like the Merchant Bank Ghana”. Does this paid advertisement mean SSNIT has bought Merchant Bank bad debt or not?
3. CUBAN SCHOLARSHIPS: - Is the Government of Cuba aware that the President has agreed to pay fees on behalf of the 250 medical students who are described on the website of the Cuban Government has students with scholarships from the Cuban Government?
4. EUROGET DE-INVEST S.A: - Has $18 million of tax payer money been doled out to Dr Said Deraz of EuroGet De-Invest S.A of Egypt for no work done? The Government of Ghana in 2008 asked Dr Deraz’s investment company, EuroGet De-Invest SA, for the construction of two Regional Hospitals in Wa and Kumasi, and an additional six District Hospitals at Twifo-Praso, in the Central Region; Konongo-Odumasi and Tepa, Ashanti; Wenchi, Brong-Ahafo; Salaga, Northern; and Adenta-Madina in the Greater Accra Region. The Suppliers Credit agreement provided that “any payment by Government of Ghana to the investor has to be made ONLY after...the hospitals have been fully constructed and equipped by November 2012.”
Dr. Bawumia’s visit to the site in Wa showed that not a single block had been laid. Yet, before November 2012, $18m appears to have been paid. Is the Government prepared to tell the people what is happening?
5. GHANA GAS COMPANY: - after the Civil Society Platform on Oil and Gas provided evidence of transfer pricing in excess of USD40m, is the President still waiting for civil society groups to give him full information before investigating allegations of bloated procurement of sub-standard equipment for the gas project? At the IEA encounter, the President gave the impression that because he did not directly negotiate the gas deal, he could not touch it. That is a signal for indiscipline because it smacks of privatization of authority. He who negotiates takes the benefit.
6. SCHOOLS UNDER TREES:- Is the President aware that schools under trees are being priced at GHS 420,000.00 in single digit inflation Ghana? Even more serious, is he aware that Government appears unable to publish the exact number and location of these schools? Could it be the case that the Governments’ confused policy of access in education is simply a cover to siphon funds for non-existent buildings?
If the number of schools supposedly paid for cannot be physically located and accounted for, maybe the Attorney-General can advise the people of Ghana whether Section 1 of the Government Contracts (protection) Decree, 1979 (AFRCD 58) is still operational and would apply to such payments.
Section 1 reads as follows:-
“Penalty for Issuing False Certificates in Respect of Government Contracts
Any person who is responsible for the issue of any certificate on the basis of which any money has been paid out of public funds to or for the benefit of any contractor or other person in respect of any Government contract, shall be jointly and severally liable with that contractor or other person for the refund of any money so paid, to the Government, statutory corporation or other agency of Government by or on behalf of which the money was paid or to any other authority directed in writing by the Government –
(i) If the person responsible for the issue of the certificate issued the certificate for the payment knowing that the work or service for which the payment was made or the goods for the supply of which the payment was made has not been performed or have not been supplied or that the money was not otherwise due under the contract in question; or
(ii) If such person issued the certificate for the payment recklessly careless, whether the work had been done or not or the goods supplied or not or whether the money was otherwise due under the contract in question or not; or
(iii) If in the issue of the certificate the person was grossly negligent.
7. GANG OF FOUR: - In January of 2012, contractors on the gang of four roads visited the Castle where it was announced that GHS 305m in Ghana Government bonds had been raised to finish construction of those roads.
But on page 25 of the Government of Ghana publication titled ‘Overview of the Better Ghana Agenda’ released in April 2012, it is written that Government secured $400m in bonds in 2011 to finish the same set of roads. At current exchange rates, the discrepancy is more than double. What is the true cost of the gang of four roads and when where bonds issued?
8. CONFLICT OF INTEREST: - How come the General Secretary of the NDC party who doubles as the Chairman of the President’s campaign team continues to sit on the board of the public corporation to which he supplies expensively priced cement blocks?
WE CANNOT AFFORD CORRUPTION
In the light of the foregoing, is it any wonder that Nana Akufo-Addo expressed the true sentiments of Ghanaians in his speech titled ‘Why Ghana Cannot Afford Corruption’ delivered on the 3rd October 2012 at KNUST when he said:-
“The President in his major policy statement, (that is how he called it) said he would appoint a Sole Commissioner, in his own words, “to thoroughly examine the judgment debt and negotiated settlement conundrum”. With all respect, Mr President, what Ghanaians really need is their money back, that is what they need. It is very clear to Ghanaians that at least GH¢360 million of these payments made to Woyome, and others were bogus. We urge our care-taker President, as a matter of urgency, to focus on expediting the legal process to retrieve the money and return it to the public purse. We don’t need a sole commissioner to review a matter that is already in court. We want our money back!
Insha Allah, Nana has pledged that he is not corrupt and he will retrieve the ill gotten monies back to Ghanaians.
Anything short of clear concrete answers to the questions raised will confirm the President’s likely complicity and therefore inability to firmly and decisively deal with corruption in the NDC Government. In three years, the NDC has borrowed and spent more money than the NPP did in eight years. Yet there are no visible results. The NPP spent about GHS34b. By September 2012, this Government had spent over GHS 45b.
Figures from Parliament show that so far they have contract in excess of USD18b in international loans and still collecting. They are reckless and dangerous when it comes to public money, our money and they must be kicked out to restore the basic principle of ‘value for money’ in Ghana’s public finances.
Information that midnight deals are being signed between the Presidency and a particular embassy in order to create a ready pool of judgment debts to collect in case the NDC losses the election is even more worrying. It is important that Ghanaians make it clear that a future Government of Ghana cannot and will not be held responsible for dubious fly by night contracts signed by a lame duck Government. Corruption kills. Vote out the corrupt John Mahama led NDC Government.
Yaw Buaben Asamoa
Dep. Dir. Communications NPP