Minister of Communications Edward Omane Boamah says his colleague Trade and Industry Minister Dr. Ekwow Spio-Garbrah should not be hanged over the controversial Bankswitch saga.
According to Dr Omane Boamah, the Trade Minister was only exploring ways and means to get the judgment debt to Bankswitch settled without the IT firm shortchanging Ghana in the process and added that he did not see how Dr. Spio-Garbrah could have erred in saving Ghana over 1 billion cedis.
The Communications Minister said on Metro TV last week that ‘the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning (MOFEP) is saying that government has not taken a decision on how to explore to pay the debt and Dr. Spio-Garbrah was only operationalizing one of the ways to derive the money.’
He corroborated Dr. Spio-Garbrah’s position that the Trade Ministry forwarded the new payment plan to the AG and MOFEP and said ‘if they find it appropriate it will be done,’ adding ‘government rejected the position that we should reward Bankswitch with another contract.’
Letter to DICs
Dr. Spio-Garbrah has hit the news recently for writing to five DICs to pay $35 million each to settle the GH¢197million judgement debt to Bankswitch in exchange for contracts at the ports, a move which appears to have ruffled the feathers of the minister’s political opponents.
The letter signed on Wednesday June 3, 2015 asked the DICs with the capacity to contribute $35 million each towards repaying the judgement debt to assist government.
‘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 dollars would be awarded a contract of 0.35 per cent 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,’ it said.
The DICs were given until midday of June 8, 2015 to respond with an expression of interest.
Daily Guide sighted a statement by Joint Consultative Committee of the DICs expressing interest in the $35 million offer saying ‘in response to the request of submission of interest of aforementioned, all the DICs submitted their expression of interest to assist the Government of Ghana by providing the USD 35million advance being requested.’
Spio breaks silence
Dr Spio-Garbrah confirmed on radio last week that the contract with Bankswitch was awarded by the Kufuor government in 2007 and was terminated when the Mills’ administration could not come to terms with the scope of work of the company.
He said details of how the deal with the DICs would work was before the Ministry of Finance and the Attorney General and insisted that he was not acting alone.
‘On details of how many years or how much money the DICs are going to make; we are not there yet. We have not signed any contract yet. At this stage it is only an expression of interest.’
He said that the government had started paying the debt to Bankswitch but when the IT firm wanted to renegotiate the deal that could make them receive a whooping GH¢1 billion spread in five years from the state, his ministry decided to intervene.
When asked whether the DICs move was not in contravention of the procurement laws, the minister said he had not broken any law, saying ‘it is for the avoidance of paying GH¢1 billion that we are engaging the DICs.’
‘I have done my part. I have forwarded everything to the Ministry of Finance and the AG to determine whether we should proceed with the deal.
“Which law has been broken here? Cite the law which I have offended. Have I stolen something or paid illegal money? I am working in broad daylight with as much transparency and as open as possible.”
Rather, Mr Spio-Garbrah said his action was in the best interest of the country and to protect the public purse.
By William Yaw Owusu
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