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Feature Article of Saturday, 14 January 2012

Columnist: Tetteh, Ephraim

The Controversial 3 Billion Dollar Chinese loan

-Emerging Corruption Questions


In our quest to expose corrupt procurement transactions in Ghana ,especially under
this government which is becoming notorious for that matter (Woyome or no
Woyome), we have lately noticed two interesting situations where we think
transparency and due dillgence seem to have been sacrificed by President Mills govt
for ulterior motives.
In november last year, 2011, Dr Sipa Yankey, chief executive officer, of the Ghana
National Gas Company informed ghanaians that SINOPEC will be building Ghana"s first
gas processing plant which will be financed by the controversial 3 billion chinese
loan. But just as has been the modus operandi of this govt in particular, the
selection of SINOPEC appears not to have been by open tender, so that all
interested parties including serious international bidders from the USA and Europe
can take part in the bidding process. The construction of this gas plant(150
MMSCFD ) which will also include a 36 kilometre shallow water offshore pipeline
from the gas plant to FFPSO Kwame Nkrumah and a 150 kilometre onshore gas pipeline
from the plant to Aboadze is a huge facility by all standards and technically
unprecedented in Ghana. Without gainsaying it, the importance of the method of
selection of the contractor for this project is two
fold : firstly for a project of this size , ghanaians want to be sure the job is
done by the best company with a solid track record in this regard with the
necessary accomplishments and secondly, that this project is done at the cheapest
cost to the ghanaian taxpayer. And as the Procurement Act 663 indicates, the best
way to achieve the aforementioned two objectives is by open tender which method
also espouses transparency and accountability, at the very least.
We at the Ghana Public Procurement Observatory (GPPO) have done our rigorous
checks and it seems to us that the selection of SINOPEC was not by open tender and
perhaps even by due process,and we are probably being very charitable here. Aside
the numerous cases of sole sourcing situations monopolised by the ndc big wigs in
the various ministries and the assemblies (which we have had occasions to lament
about), it seems the govt has yet again failed the fairness and transparency test
with the selection of SINOPEC. Furthermore a number of disturbing revelations are
popping out of the SINOPEC selection and even though we have written to Ministry of
Energy and also GNPC for answers, it appears we have ran into a dead end. Wherever
you go in govt for clarifications on issues, then perhaps you are seen as a threat,
so where is the transparency President Mills is talking of.This is unacceptable. The
President therefore cannot be serious if he
says his govt is fighting corruption in Ghana. Infact this fighting corruption
mantra in the Atta Mills administration is turning out to be the biggest joke yet.
But i think we must say here and now that the govt depts involved here can only
run but they cannot hide. Sooner or later, the right to information bill, presently
at parliament will be passed into law and accordingly we shall demand answers on
all these shady transactions at the appropriate time..
The second issue is that, in febuary 2011, the govt of Ghana issued a license to
China Hasan International Holding of Hong Kong to become the main partner of the
western corridor infrastructure project (Sekondi Industrial Estate) with an
estimated contractural value of usd 100 million, with funds to be lent from the
controversial 3 billion dollar chinese loan. Imani of Ghana apparently has done a
lot of research work here and have developed serious doubts about China Hassan"s
capacity to do the job and their track record so far. Imani therefore has documented
elaborate reasons and compelling evidence why China Hassan may probably shortchange
Ghana but we doubt whether the govt is listening. For instance Imani states
"indeed,we have established that Hassan"s much touted project in Angola, the only
one that it claims to have INITIATED so far, has NOT progressed much beyond CONCEPT
stage." So why in God"s name should we entrust 100 million
dollars to a company which on its own has not developed anything beyond
paperwork. Even there are serious question marks regarding their address. Again
Imani writes "when a real estate agency in Hong kong was asked to send us a list
of tenants on the 2nd floor of the somewhat rundown Teng Fuh Commercial building
(picture on imani website) on Hong Kong Queen"s road (the address supplied on
Hassan"s websites and other documents we have sighted) the agency sent a catalogue
of SME export-import businesses dealing in items such as jewellery and textiles but
curiously did not include Hassan. The only conclusion to be drawn is that Hassan
is so small that its office in the commercial building has evaded the attention of
even a leading real estate research firm." Oyiwa . Here we are.
Again, if we are going to entrust usd 100million in the hands of a foreign
contractor, and we cannot even be sure of their stated address, then oyiwa.... this
govt will have a lot to answer some day.
We are not against this ndc govt or any other govt for that matter. but what we
are really against is a corrupt govt or a deceitful govt, and we will fight it any
day. Indeed the test for Pres Mills govt is not whether or not developments are
happening in the country(as his supporters claim), because with oil money at their
disposal, any body can do developments. We think that the barometre for measuring
President Mills record should be the degree of corruption in his governance, and
sadly to say ,his record here is disappointing..,very disappointing..
PS. Also we have information to the effect that up till now, less than 30% of Pres
Mills appointees have formally declared their assets. We have written several
letters to the Office of the President for confirmation, but to no avail. However we
believe our sources are right and still want to ask; why is it taking President
Mills appointees so long to formally declare their assets.But if the 30%
declaration figure is not accurate,they must come out boldly to tell the whole
nation. Some of us would love to be proved wrong.

Dr Epraim Tetteh
Anti corruption crusader
Biscayne Bay, Miami

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