General News of Sunday, 21 June 2015
The Trade and Industry Minister, Dr. Ekwow Spio Garbrah, has been accused of attempting to bribe Destination Inspection Companies (DICs) with contracts in exchange for money to defray government’s GHC197 million judgment debt owed Bankswitch Ghana.
This, according to financial analyst, Sydney Casely-Hayford, who says the Minister’s action, is inexcusable.
“Forget about the purpose for which this is being done because it is irrelevant…It is a bribe. It is simple, it is clear, you don’t need to cloud it with the reasons, you don’t have to cloud it with anything, this is plain and simple bribery,” he said.
A Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague awarded damages amounting to GHC197,491,874.00 to Bankswitch Ghana after it filed a suit against the government of Ghana for abrogating a contract.
In order to pay the money, the Minister of Trade in a letter to all Destination Inspection Companies (DICs) informed them that “any of them who can advance the government of Ghana an amount of $35 million will be awarded a contract of 0.35% of free on board values on all Ghana’s imports for at least a period of five years to enable that company recover its investments.”
The money will then be used to defray the GHC197 million judgment. The letter which has been leaked to the media has angered many who are of the view that the government is using illegal means to settle its debt to Bankswitch Ghana.
The Manhyia South Member of Parliament (MP), Dr. Mathew Opoku Prempeh, is demanding immediate resignation or dismissal of Dr. Spio Garbrah.
Sharing his thoughts on the matter on Citi FM’s The Big Issue, Casely-Hayford explained his point on bribery saying, “if government wants to buy a new presidential jet today for which it does not have enough money, is it proper for you to call on everybody who is involved in the aviation industry and say all of you should come and give us 10 million, 10 million, 10 million and in exchange for that, we will give you a contract that says that your aviation rights will be extended or will be in perpetuity forever. Is that not a bribe?”
Casely-Hayford argued that “…unless he was forced to do this, unless somebody else behind it has asked him to find a way because they have seen that the destination inspectors are capable of raising that kind of money without a problem…Unless he is going deny that the signature on there is not his signature or he was coerced into signing it and there is somebody else who is responsible for doing it or unless he is going to do it like how other people are capable of doing it by saying somebody in his Ministry forged his signature an therefore it is not him,” he should honourably resign.
He charged government to step up and pay its debts but it should not do so “by asking other people to come and give you bribes and you’d give them contracts.”