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Opinions of Monday, 31 August 2020

Columnist: Dr. Richard Amoako Baah

Never too late to do the right thing

Dr. Richard Amoako Baah Dr. Richard Amoako Baah

During his Sunday night broadcast, “What’s Going On” on Ultimate FM, 106.9, Dr. Richard Amoako Baah made it known that the Agyapa deal is not in the best interest of Ghana. He intimated that though he trusts and respects the opinions of the Finance Minister, his omission of the key word “best” in his Daily Graphic headline of August 28, “Agyapa deal in country’s interest” is quite telling. He explained that just about anything that concerns Ghana is in the interest of Ghana.

What is good for Ghana is what is in Ghana’s BEST interest. As the finance minister, it is his responsibility to find money for government operations. Therefore whatever he has to do to ensure the smooth operation of the government, such as paying salaries and servicing government debt is in the interest of the country.

He said though the Agyapa deal is in the interest of the country since it gives the government the avenue for raising money within a short time, it is not necessarily in the country’s best interest. He gave the following as some of the reasons:

1. For the sake of transparency, reputable governments do not set up businesses with their cronies in tax havens

2. Since this deal would affect future generations and governments of Ghana, there should have been a wider consultation

3. The negative issues surrounding the Agyapa deal have not been exhausted, which casts a dark shadow on the deal and likely to affect its patronage and success.

4. The Agyapa deal seems to be rife with cronyism, nepotism, and implied fraud especially with respect to its Board and management

5. The original legal opinion offered by the Attorney General points in the direction of suspension or abrogation:

a. The agreements run in perpetuity and, therefore, have no fixed term.

b. They are expected to run until the expiration of the last mining lease in Ghana.

c. The agreements also appear to be cast in stone with no options to evaluate their effectiveness and/or satisfactory performance to renew or terminate should the need arise. This makes the agreement unconscionable.

d. Payments in respect of the agreement, will be made in US dollars. This violates the Bank of Ghana Act, 2002 (Act 612) as amended by the Bank of Ghana Amendment Act, 2016 (Act 918), which mandates that all transactions be made in a currency unit of Ghana which is the cedi or its equivalent.

e. The subject matter, that is monetizing royalties and investing such income, has been ring-fenced for List Co and Royalty Co such that the Republic is precluded from exercising any right over the 75.6 percentage shares as referred to in the agreement.

f. We also note that the value of gold is not stable on the international market and likely to drop against the projection of high value, which may have negative consequences on the royalties received.

g. The stability clauses in the present agreement, relate to both legal and fiscal stability and covers any law or action that may affect the performance of the agreement.

h. The agreement freezes anything legal, including judicial orders and decision. In effect, no court can pronounce on any part of the agreement as being illegal, unconscionable, null and void or on any matter before the court, which may or is likely to affect any part of the agreement.

i. The above provision amounts to executive interference of the powers of the judiciary, which is a violation of the concept of separation of powers as provided under the Constitution of Ghana. Therefore, the executive arm of government cannot enter into an agreement that curtails the independence of both the legislature and the judiciary.

j. If the honorable Attorney General has made a U-turn as asserted, it is her responsibility as a holder of that high office to say so; it is not for Gabby Otchere Darko to speak for her.

On the issue of Kofi Osafo Marfo being appointed to head the deal, the explanation given by the Information Minister, Kwadwo Oppong Nkrumah is the shallowest justification that can be offered. Kofi Osafo Marfo may indeed be qualified, but simply saying that Kofi “qualifies” will not suffice because there are thousands who qualify. The question is what was the criterion used to select him, or is it just because he is the Senior Minister’s son? The Information Minister should inform himself better before he gives such cavalier and callous reasons for this appointment. This attitude tacitly implies “We do what we want.”

Some like Mr. Kwaku Baako has stated that it is too late to stop the deal, and that those who oppose the deal should have stopped it in parliament. How do ordinary citizens stop parliamentary proceedings? If one is going to Bolga, but is facing Accra, you don’t say because we have travelled to Nkawkaw, we should continue. It is never too late to turn around once you realize you are headed in the wrong direction. If we continue on the path we are on, we would end up not in Bolga but in the ocean!

In the past, we suspended the PDS deal, we suspended the referendum to elect DCEs, we suspended the sale of ECG, NPP suspended its affirmative action program for women when we realized that the way it was structured made it illegal, etc.

People in the NPP cannot be expected to remain silent or become cheerleaders when things are going wrong. Mr. President, you campaigned on anti-corruption mantra, and we wholly supported you. Cronyism, nepotism, and sweet-heart deals are all forms of corruption. If the battle is still the Lord’s, let’s do the right thing and suspend this deal. The opposition so far generated about this Agyapa deal is going to doom it to failure.