General News of Tuesday, 23 June 2015
A Financial Consultant Kudzo Akpabey says the right persons to answer questions about the cancellation of the controversial Bankswitch contract are former Finance Minister Kwabena Dufuor and Foreign Affairs Minister Hannah Tetteh.
According to him, both ministers cannot be left off the hook because their input led to the cancellation of the contract which has left the country incurring a judgment debt of ¢197 million.
“We need to drag them to answer who cancelled it. They had no business… no business cancelling it”, he said on Peace FM’s morning show, Kokrokoo, Tuesday.
The issue about the Bankswitch judgement debt came to light last week when Joy FM intercepted a letter signed by Trade and Industry Minister Ekow Spio Garbrah requesting that Destination Inspection Companies (DICs) contribute $35 million to government to defray the ¢197 million judgement debt awarded to Bankswitch.
Bankswitch Ghana dragged government to the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague demanding the award of ¢853 million 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 but it failed to carry through with the contract.
The court agreed with the arguments of the plaintiff and ruled the contract was wrongfully abrogated. The court therefore awarded damages in excess of ¢197 million.
However, in a letter dated June 3, 2015, Dr. Spio-Garbrah asked the DICs to contribute to pay up the judgment debt in exchange for contracts.
The letter stated: “To pay this debt, government of Ghana is informing all destination inspection companies that any of them who can advance government of Ghana an amount of $35 million would be awarded a contract of 0.35 percent 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 DICs were asked in the letter to indicate how soon they were going to make the money available and were given a June 18 deadline to respond to the letter.
Many have accused the minister of breaching the procurement act by asking the DICs to contribute to defray the debt, adding the initiative was a form of bribe.
Member of Parliament (MP) for Abuakwa South, Atta Akyea described the letter as “a veil form of bribery” because government cannot seek to solve its problems by inducing companies through monetary donations in the form of contracts.
Dr Spio Garbrah in a reaction denied the assertion that he was in breach of the law.
In Dr Spio Garbrah’s defence, the Financial Consultant said the Trade Minister should not be attacked because there are more important things to be discussed in relation to the Bankswitch judgement debt.
“It looks like we are clouded with Spio Garbrah’s letter but I am saying that the most important issue is who caused this judgment debt and that is what we should address. The one who caused it is a candidate for prosecution.”
He said some persons in the late President Mills’ administration intentionally cancelled the Bankswitch contract even when the president had ordered that the company should carry on with it.
He questioned why the contract was cancelled saying “if we have a country and government has gone into a contract for 5 years with a company, why won’t we be patient. Even if you don’t like the company why don’t you wait for the contract to expire before you take any steps”.
“Dr Dufuor and Hannah Tetteh must answer it. They are candidates for prosecution. Both of them must answer to Ghanaians and they must be dragged to court to go and answer.
He also added that if the Attorney General then was not “lazy and lousy”, Bankswitch would not have been awarded that huge amount of money as judgment debt.