Trade Minister Dr. Ekow Spio-Garbrah is dismissing a former Minister of State’s position that it is the Finance Minister’s responsibility to raise monies to pay loans and not the Trade Minister as the Bankswitch controversy takes a new twist.
Dr. Ekow Spio-Garbrah says he did not overstep his bounds when he wrote letters to some Destination Inspection Companies at the ports to contribute $35million or more to support government defray a debt in excess of $197million.
Dr. Akoto Osei had accused the Trade minister on Joy FM’s Super Morning Show Tuesday, of going ‘way beyond his limits’ in entering into deals with the DICs.
‘When did he become the loan officer for Ghana? When did he become a loan officer? So if he doesn’t know the laws he should check the laws that no minister, not even the president can sign a contract worth that amount. That is why we have rules’, Akoto Osei stated.
The Trade Minister has shot back explaining that it is a normal practice for ministers to help each other solve problems.
Touting his experience in public service, Dr. Spio Garbrah noted that a minister may have a proposal on his desk, and if convinced it could help the government, forward it to the appropriate colleague to take over and implement.
This was the case, he said, when he wrote the letter to the DICs.
‘How would he know that the finance minister is not aware of these letters?’ Dr. Spio-Garbrah retorted when Akoto Osei said it was only the Finance Minister who raises money to pay loans.
Acknowledging Dr. Akoto Osei’s appreciation of internal government workings, the Trade Minister explained each government has a manner in which it operates within the law.
Dr. Spio-Garbrah says he is yet to see which procurement law Akoto Osei claims to have been broken by his offer to give contracts to DICs in exchange for their $35million contributions.
This is because, the letters to DIC are only ‘Expression of Interest’ which do not have any legal backing.
Negotiations, he said, are at a ‘very very preliminary stage’….”You cannot break a procurement law when ‘nothing has been procured’, he stated.
He compared his solution to the model used in telecommunication service provision.
‘It is like buying a pre-paid card’, he said. Just as a subscriber buys a stratch card even before making a phone call, his solution is for the DICs to give monies before they get the contracts they have been awarded in the past.
The same model is used to build roads where companies give government money for the road and later set up toll booths to recoup their losses, he further explained.
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