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General News of Monday, 24 April 2017


Kweku Baako lands government defense job again

It appears to be another cocoa season again for the Editor in chief of the New Crusading Guide newspaper, Kweku Baako Jnr, and he has mounted platforms with guns blazing in defense of the Akufo-Addo government akin to his works during the 8-year rule of President John Agyekum Kufuor.

Despite the overwhelming evidence in the US$2.25 billion bond issue provided by many economists, including Dr. John Gatsi and Kenneth Thompson of the Dalex Finance to describe the financial arrangement as shady, expensive, unlawful and heavily laden with conflict of interests, Mr. Baako, insists there is nothing wrong with the deal.

The US$2.25 billion bond, has been demonstrated to have been cooked by family and friends of Finance Minister, Ken Ofori -Atta.

The Finance Minister’s two companies, Data Bank and Enterprise Insurance, his friends, Keli Gadzekpo and Trevor G. Trefgarne; Chairman of the Enterprise Group, Dr. Angela Ofori-Atta; wife of the Finance Minister, have all been mentioned in connection to the money with the Minority calling for a full scale investigation into the bond controversy.

The same Trevor G. Trefgarne, who is on the Board of Franklin Templeton, bought the US$2.25 billion bond from Ghana’s Ministry of Finance headed by his friend, Ken Ofori-Atta.

But Kweku Baako, who has many times fled from economic issue and financial arrangements, has said that the final report on any such investigation will leave the nose of the Minority bloodied and shall expose the “ignorance, mischief, and misinformation” that have attended the NDC minority’s conflict of interest allegations against the government.

He was contributing to the $2.25 billion bond issue on Newsfile, which the minority is demanding parliamentary enquiry and CHRAJ’s inquisition over a possible conflict of interest against the Finance Minister.

The Minority at a press conference stated that 95 percent of the $2.25 billion, was sold to Franklyn Templeton, a company whose director Trevor Trefgarne, also doubles as the Director of Enterprise Group, a company partially owned by the Finance Minister.

They claim the rate at which the bond was sold was actually “cooked” to favour the buyer and that the deal was shrouded in secrecy to prevent others from bidding to buy the bond.

Former Finance Minister, Casiel Ato Forson, said only two institutions actually sent in bids for the bond and had no local participation, even though it was meant to be a local bond.

He said given the extent of impropriety, Parliament and CHRAJ must intervene.
But the Vice President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, had been ruthless in his response to the allegation by the minority.

In an interview with Joy News’ George Wiafe in Washington DC, where an IMF meeting is ongoing, the vice president said, the Minority allegation was borne out of “ignorance” and a complete misunderstanding of the issue.

He explained that the deal is remarkable, because the 15-year-bond, has allowed Ghana to acquire foreign exchange without increasing the debt stock.

“Many people didn’t understand the transaction and thought that we have gone to borrow $2 billion to add to Ghana’s debt. No! we are actually replacing more expensive debt with less expensive debt and elongating it and making it better for this country,” he said during his 100 day town hall meeting programme organised by the Multimedia Group.

He charged the Minority to do a little reading to get themselves updated on the issues at stake.

His comments have been described as unpresidential by the Minority as well Executive Director of Institute of Democratic Governance (IDEG), Dr. Emmanuel Akwetey.

On Newsfile Saturday former MP for North Dayi, George Loh, could not agree more with the position of the Minority.

According to him, the deal which by law demanded Parliamentary approval, had been sold and sealed by the Economic Management team led by Dr Mahamudu Bawumia.

According to him, only a four hour window was given for the transaction to be sealed.

“If someone was in Australia and wants to participate, four hours, how is he going to participate? he asked.

“There are people in Ghana who didn’t hear and didn’t have the opportunity to be part of the bond before closing the window,” he stated.

He also repeated the possible conflict of interest situation and called on the appropriate bodies to investigate the matter.

“In other places people would have resigned just on the semblance of the conflict of interest,” he stated.

But in a sarcastic response, Kweku Baako Jnr, welcomed the call for an investigation.

“I am in full support of the NDC’s call for a parliamentary probe as well as their decision to go to CHRAJ. I really would love the day the process begins and ends, because by the day it ends we will see that Vice President Bawumia is damn right. That this whole thing is driven by ignorance, mischief, misinformation, disinformation. It is just noise, but they are entitled to make noise. This is a democracy,” he fired.

Producing evidence from the joint book runners and deal team, a consortium of banks- Barclays, Stanbic and SAS- to back his arguments he said, the four hour allegation peddled by the minority was completely out of the window.

He said, the deal which opened on March 30, 2017 and closed on Monday April 3, 2017, could not have been described as four hours.

He also cited the Parliamentary hansard of November 13, 2015 and other documents in 2016 and 2017 which suggested that Parliament had approved the methodology in the use of issuance calendar as a way of promoting transparency in the issuance of local bonds.

He said, from all the transactions dating back from 2015 till now, not a single one of them had received Parliamentary approval and wondered why the one issued in April, should go to Parliament.

“If you go to the Central Securities Depositories of the Ghana Stock Exchange, you will see the list of 25 companies who participated in the bond, not two as suggested by the Minority,” he stated.

Touching on the conflict of interest allegations, he said Ken Ofori Atta’s relationship with the Enterprise Group, is public knowledge and duly acknowledged in his Assets declaration.

He added Franklyn Templeton, has been transacting business with the government of Ghana under the NDC, way before Ken Ofori Atta became Finance Minister.
Is somebody suggesting that merely because Ken Ofori Atta is Finance Minister and has business relationship with Trevor who is also with Franklyn Templeton, then the US company, must divest its business deals with Ghana? He asked.