Judgment debt report intercepted: Sole Commissioner blames cronyism for canker

The Sole Judgement Debt Commissioner Justice Yaw Apau has pointed to political consideration, cronyism in the award of contracts as key causes of needless judgement debt payment that has haunted many governments.

In a report of a Commission of enquiry, presented to President John Mahama and intercepted by Joy News, the Commissioner named a number of state institutions, including the Lands Commission as key culprits in creating judgment debts.

The payment has led to colossal financial loss to the state.

Between 2009 to 2011 there was a whopping amount of 680 million cedis paid in judgement debt by the state to individuals and institutions, a phenomenon that got many Ghanaians angry.

The one that broke the camel’s back was the judgment debt paid to business man Alfred Agbesie Woyome.

He was paid an amount of 51 million cedis in judgment debt for a contract alleged to have been illegally abrogated. The Supreme Court has ruled that the payment was illegal and Woyome must refund the amount paid to him.

The payment and the agitations that came with it forced President John Mahama to institute a judgment debt commission to investigate the phenomenon of judgement debts and recommend ways to end the canker.

Having received the report of the Commission, the president will later issue a white paper before it will be made public, but Joy News has intercepted a copy of the report.

Dissecting the details of the report, Joy News’ Joseph Opoku Gakpo quoted excerpts of the report as saying that in the signing of contracts for roads, schools, hospitals and other infrastructure, many state officials do not seek the best interest of the state.

The report also stated that the bargaining power of the state in the preparation of international contracts and agreement and the execution of it is generally weak.

In these agreements the terms weigh heavily against the state and in cases of dispute the state loses quite easily, the report noted.

Justice Apau also said some of the contracts especially roads and housing are influenced by political considerations and fingered all governments as being guilty.

He also cited the illegal abrogation of contracts by incoming governments due largely to political considerations as one of the causes for the needless payment of judgment debt.

Compensation for lands acquired for public use is also a big source of judgment debt payment, Justice Apau noted.

The full report will be made public when the president issues a white paper.

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