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General News of Thursday, 24 December 2020

Source: www.ghanaweb.com

Most controversial government moves that raised eyebrows in 2020

The year 2020 will go down in the history of Ghana as one of the most controversial years under the leadership of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo. His administration made certain moves that raised eyebrows.

As the year 2020 comes to an end, GhanaWeb hereby reviews some decisions by the Government of Ghana which ought not to have happened.

1. Agyapa Royalties Deal

Under the deal, Ghana would own 51 per cent of the Jersey-based company Agyapa Royalties and the remaining shares would be listed on the London Stock Exchange.

In return for handing over such a large share of their future revenues, the government has argued that it could raise US$500 million in capital to ease their growing debt crisis by listing the remaining 49 per cent of shares.

About 76 per cent of the USD 200 million mineral royalties that are paid to us annually by 16 large gold mines in Ghana were to be owned by Agyapa Royalties Limited for at least 15 years in exchange for a loan of about USD 500 million.

Transparency International has described the obnoxious deal as a “controversial deal flagged for corruption risks…” by Ghana’s former Special Prosecutor. Transparency International has urged the financial powerhouses in London such as JP Morgan to throw away the deal.

Foundations of the deal

The problem started in June 2018 when Parliament passed the Minerals Income Investment Fund (Act 2018) to manage equity interests in mining companies and also receive royalties on behalf of the Government of Ghana.

The Minerals Income Investment Fund is mandated to manage and invest these royalties and revenue it receives on behalf of Ghana and invest them for higher returns.

To do this, the law enables the Mineral Income Investment Fund to establish Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs) to manage such deals, hence Agyapa.

Amendment

In July 2020, the Akufo-Addo administration introduced an amendment to the Act to ensure that the SPVs that the Fund would establish to manage investments would get unrestricted independence.

On the back of the amendment and the original provisions of the act, the Minerals Income Investment Fund set up an offshore limited liability company known as Agyapa Royalties Limited (previously Asaase Royalties Limited).

The Agyapa Royalties Ltd is incorporated in Bailiwick of Jersey in the UK, a tax haven.

Following the corruption risk report by the Special Prosecutor Martin Amidu, the President asked the Minister of Finance to resubmit the deal for MPs to scrutinise since they had earlier opposed it. Besides, when you are going to Merryl Lynch, J.P. Morgan and other similar big players on the private capital market, you’d better be guided by the admonition of J.H Mensah, “Money doesn’t like noise”. In the early days of the Kufuor administration, JH Mensah, Senior Minister, spoke about how the NDC blew up chances to win international deals from Merryl Lynch and Co and averred that because of the lack of transparency of the then financial handlers of the economy led by Kwame Peprah, as finance minister, Merryl Lynch, one of the biggest global private capital financiers walked away on a possible deal with the Government of Ghana.

2. Auditor-General asked to proceed on leave

Another controversial government move in 2020 is when the president, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, asked the ‘hardworking’ Daniel Yaw Domelevo, the Auditor-General, to proceed on an accumulated annual leave of 123 working days, later increased to 167 days.

A statement from the Communications Directorate of the Jubilee House further directed Mr. Domelevo to hand over all matters relating to his office to his Deputy, Mr. Johnson Akuamoah Asiedu.

The move was said to tow the line -tit for tat - set by former President John Evans Atta-Mills when he asked Edward Dua Agyeman, the then Auditor-General, to proceed on 264 working days accumulated annual leave.

$1m Kroll case

Domelevo’s leave was triggered when the Auditor-General surcharged the Senior Minister, Yaw Osafo-Maafo US$1m for wrongful payments to Kroll and Associates, property managers for no work done.

Osafo-Maafo filed a lawsuit and in the end, Justice Botwe, in a ruling, said that due to the important role the Auditor-General plays, she would opt to caution and discharge him rather than sentence him for not giving Osafo-Maafo the chance to explain himself and the delay in responding to the court.

Osafo-Maafo had said he was resorting to the courts because “the evidence available shows clearly that the Auditor-General erred in law and professional procedures in the exercise of his powers regarding his audit on payments to Kroll and Associates Limited”.

Nana Bediatuo Asante, the Secretary to the President, on behalf of the President, engaged in a back and forth public letter-writing spats with the Auditor-General.

Nana Bediatuo Asante did the same with Martin Amidu the Special Prosecutor when the latter resigned on grounds of interference in his work.

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