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General News of Thursday, 3 September 2009

Source: GNA

Dealer owes Ghana@50 Secretariat over one million cedis

Fairllop International Limited, dealers in luxury cars owes government over one million Ghana cedis being the cost of 35 Jaguar saloon cars it purchased from the Ghana@50 Secretariat after the 50th Independence anniversary celebrations.

Incidentally, the company which sold the vehicles to the Secretariat in 2007 for the celebrations opted to purchase 35 out of the 40 vehicles it supplied based on an advertisement by the secretariat offering to sell the vehicles.

Mr Eric Agyemang, Managing Director of Fairllop, testifying at the Ghana@50 Commission of Inquiry in Accra on Thursday, said the company had not settled its liability to government because Fairllop had encountered “certain difficulties” since December last year, which had mired the sale to offset the debt.

When a member of the Commission, Mrs Marrietta Brew Appiah-Oppong asked about the nature of the difficulty that prevented the sale, Mr Agyemang said the rumpus that characterized the transition process after the 2008 Election made people apprehensive of buying the vehicles.

He said apart from the transition process brouhaha, Fairllop had also never dealt in second-hand vehicles and was finding it extremely difficult to sell the cars because those who had the money to purchase such luxury cars preferred to buy brand new ones.

This drew a sharp rebuttal from Mrs Appiah-Oppong who retorted “You cannot put your failure at the doorstep of the transition process”.

“In any case the contractual agreement did not say you should sell the cars before paying for them,” she said.

Mr Agyemang then said ”My Lord when we have buyers for the vehicles we would pay or government should take the vehicles back.”

Mr Justice Duose, Chairman of the Commission, asked Fairllop to pay what it owed government or take steps to negotiate on terms of settlement, which Mr Agyemang said the company was doing.

Giving the background to the deal, Mr Agyemang said that in 2006 the Secretariat at a meeting with car dealers, asked Fairllop to submit a proposal for the supply of 40 Jaguar saloon cars for the Jubilee celebration.

Subsequently, Fairllop sent a Memorandum of Understanding to the Secretariat stating interest in the transaction, after which the Secretariat requested the company to supply the vehicles.

He said the contractual agreement was that the Secretariat was to make a 50 per cent down payment of the cost of the vehicles and spread the remainder over a period of 12 months, which the Secretariat observed after taking custody of the vehicles and paid the remainder in May 2008.

However, Mr Agyemang claimed that the Secretariat was also indebted to the company to the tune of 93,684 dollars, explaining that the Secretariat made the initial 50 per cent payment in dollars but subsequent payments were made in Ghana cedis, which made Fairllop register the shortfall as a result of exchange rate differentials.

When Justice Duose asked Mr Agyemang to subtract what he claimed the Secretariat owed from what Fairllop owed government, he said his company after that deduction would then be liable to pay government 908,000 dollars.

Mr Justice Duose asked why Fairllop had taken 35 out of the 40 cars it supplied the Secretariat, to which Mr Agyemang said the remaining five vehicles were involved in accidents “and my Lord I would not touch such cars”.

Mr Paul Pepera, Managing Director of PHC Motors, who also accounted for his company’s involvement with the Secretariat, said that on April 11, 2006, PHC received a letter from the Office of the President requesting them to supply 35 Chrysler 300 saloon cars for the Jubilee celebration.

He said that after an agreement was reached, PHC made delivery of the cars to the Secretariat in January 2007 after an initial payment of 40 per cent of the price of the vehicles was made in November 2006.

Mr Pepera said the Secretariat had paid the outstanding balance on the contract to PHC.

When he was asked during cross examination whether PHC went through the appropriate tendering process, he said the company made a quotation to the Secretariat and won the bid.

Officials from the African Union (AU) Development Consortium Limited (AUDCL), the company that constructed the Ridge Presidential houses, Chief Executive of the Ghana@50 Secretariat, Dr Charles Wereko-Brobbey and the Chairman of the National Planning Committee, Mr Kwadwo Okyere Mpiani and their counsels were present at the sitting.