Pressure group OccupyGhana has given the Attorney General (AG) one week ultimatum to provide detailed information on the infamous GH¢3.6 million bus rebranding transaction involving Smarttys Management and Productions Ltd, owned by actress Selassie Ibrahim.
The group threatened that should the government refuse to provide information relating to the controversial deal within a week, the AG should consider the letter as a notice of intention to sue the government in court.
The GH¢3.6 million being the cost of the rebranding to the taxpayer, set tongues wagging recently, leading to the resignation of Dzifa Attivor as Minister for Transportation.
“We have closely followed the matters surrounding the bus rebranding transaction involving Smarttys Management and Productions Ltd (Smarttys), leading to the investigation conducted by the Attorney General at the request of the Chief of Staff. This culminated in the resignation of the immediate past Minister for Transport, Madam Dzifa Attivor, and the subsequent agreement between the Ministry of Transport (‘Ministry’) and Smarttys for the refund of some GH¢1.5 million to the state.”
OccupyGhana said the group is “not satisfied” with the position of the government that the said resignation and refund should conclude the matter, adding, “and we note sadly that the government has not been forthcoming with any information about the Attorney General’s investigation and its findings and full details of the impugned transaction.”
The group said it strongly believed that the government was deliberately suppressing information on the matter and it was with the aim of “preventing the proper legal steps from being taken to tackle this serious allegation of corruption.”
It believed that all the information surrounding what it called “the impugned bus branding contract” constituted information “that should be made available to all Ghanaians,” adding, “We are fortified in this belief by Article 21(1)(f) of the Constitution which provides that ‘all persons shall have the right to… information, subject to such qualifications and laws as are necessary in a democratic society.’”
Conceivable Public Interest
OccupyGhana said there is “no conceivable public interest privilege that applies to deny us access to that information” and wants the government to give cogent answers to some pressing questions relating to the transaction.
The pressure group would like to know if it was Smarttys that approached the Ministry of Transport with a proposal to brand the buses or the other way round. “If it was the ministry that wrote to Smarttys, did the ministry receive a written response from Smarttys giving quotations for the impugned transaction; and if so, may we have a copy of that letter?”
It further wants to know if the ministry at any time relevant to the transaction wrote to request for quotations from any other companies or entities apart from Smarttys, or whether it received any quotations from any other entities and whether there was any adoption of public procurement procedure in the selection of Smarttys.
“Did the ministry receive written approval from the PPA for the procurement of services from Smarttys? If PPA approval was obtained, did the ministry communicate that approval in writing to Smarttys; and if so, may we have a copy of that letter and any attachments to it?”
OccupyGhana would also like to know if the ministry executed a contract in respect of the transaction and a signed contract with Metro Mass Transit (MMT), adding, “When did MMT surrender the buses to Smarttys to begin the actual work of branding the buses, and when was that work completed?
“Did the ministry write to the Ministry of Finance requesting the release of funds for payment to Smarttys for the impugned transaction; and if so, may we have a copy of that letter? Did the ministry receive from the Ministry of Finance an approval in writing to any request to release funds for the impugned transaction; and if so, may we have a copy of that written approval?”
It also would like to know the number of times payments were made to Smarttys as well as the taxes paid or withheld.
By William Yaw Owusu