Government’s mitigation action on $197M Bankswitch judgment debt is belated – Dr. Akoto Osei
Former Minister of State at the finance ministry , Dr. Anthony Akoto Osei has questioned why government did not initiate negotiation with IT Firm, Bankswitch Ghana Limited, to mitigate a-197-million dollar judgment debt awarded against the state before going to the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague.
According to him, negotiating an already given ruling by the Arbitration court on the issue is not in the best interest of the state in anyway.
Dr. Akoto Osei was speaking on Joy News Monday, on issues pertaining the state signing a contract with Bankswitch Ghana Limited.
The former minister of state also noted that all the Attorney Generals since 2009 failed to contact him on the issue before advancing to the Hague.
As the one, who endoresed the contract, Dr. Akoto Osei stressed that minutes of deliberations from various meetings held with GcNet, Bankswitch and other Destination Inspection Companies (DICs) are available for perusal.
Putting the issues on the contract straight, Dr. Akoto Osei emphatically noted that the contract with GcNet and other DICs has not been nullified with the signing of the contract with Bankswitch.
He said a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was earlier entered into by the then minister of finance, late Kwodwo Baah-Wiredu with Bankswitch Ghana Limited and which was later signed for the IT firm to take over valuation of Customs to help with revenue mobilization.
The former minister of state also denied that the IT Firm had not commenced working on the contract signed until 2009, noting that there are minutes of meetings held, work done and returns to government that had came from the committee that sat on the issue before it was brought to him to endorse.
He said Bankswitch Ghana Limited started working since 2007 and was supposed to work up to about five years before Customs fully takes over the programme.
Additionally, the former minister of state indicated that Late President Mills visited the premises of Bankswitch in 2009 and commended them before training custom officials.
However, the contract was subsequently abrogated after series of meetings were held at the presidency following a recommendation to government.
Dr. Akoto Osei also explained that Bankswitch Ghana Limited and GcNet were performing different tasks with the former responsible for the valuation and therefore there exist no conflict in the work of the two companies.
He indicated that initially GcNet was worried that Bankswitch was going to take over its work but it was part of the committee, which GCNet is part that brought a recommendation for the contract to be signed with the IT Firm.
The former minister of state, whose name has come up as one of those who testified against the state during the trial in the Hague, denied the allegation, saying that he never visited the Hague to give evidence but was called by one of the judges on the case and asked about the contract.
Dr. Akoto Osei also denied allegations that he held shares in Bankswitch Ghana Limited.
The response from the former minister of state followed Government’s negotiations with the IT Firm for mitigation on the 197 million dollars judgment debt awarded against the state.
The court in The Hague, Netherlands, supported the plaintiff in its ruling that a contract signed with the Finance Ministry to provide services was wrongfully abrogated.
Bankswitch Ghana Limited had requested the court to award it 853 million cedis for the illegal termination of a contract it signed with the government in 2007.
The Ministry of Finance entered into an agreement with the company for the provision of a customers’ valuation software for the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority, to help with revenue mobilization.
The contract was signed at a time the State also had a contract with another firm, GCNET and a number of DICs.
The court awarded damages amounting to 197.4 million cedis to Bankswitch Ghana.
Meanwhile, a presidential staffer, Dr. Clement Apaak, has filed a suit at the Supreme Court, demanding that the said contract between Bankswitch Ghana Limited and government be declared null and void because it lacked parliamentary approval.
The writ is also asking the court to indemnify government against any loss or liability arising out of the contract.
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