Ameri deal was tidy collusion to defraud state- Bentil

The Vice President of policy think tank IMANI Ghana  says the AMERI power deal which cost $510 million of the tax payers money is a collusion by former government officials and officials of AMERI group to “over charge the state.”

Kofi Bentil does not understand how the erstwhile National Democratic Congress government paid that much for an emergency plant when it could have gotten it for $220million on the open market.

Speaking on Joy FM’s news analysis programme Newsfile, Saturday, Mr Bentil, who is also a private legal practitioner said the former NDC administration paid a whooping sum of $150 million to a middle man, AMERI, for little or no job done.

“We could have done without the middle man, but we used him and ended up paying the middle man $150million,” he argued.

According to him, Indonesia bought twice the capacity of the AMERI plant which is 20 units for $435million and Ghana bought 10 units for $510 million.

“This just doesn’t make sense,” he said.

In the wake of the crippling power paralysis in 2015, the John Mahama led government signed a new power agreement AMERI to supply an emergency plant at a cost of $510 million payable in five years which will provide at least 250 megawatts of power.

Some civil society groups, IMANI, raised issues with the agreement, arguing the country had been shortchanged.

The deal however went to Parliament, approved by the committees and plenary and was given a clean bill of health by the president.

However, on assumption of power, the Nana Akufo-Addo led administration promised to review a number of the power agreements including, AMERI.

A committee was constituted to ascertain whether the country could have gotten the deal for less.

The Philip Addison led committee, issued a report which suggested the country paid far more than it ought to have paid for the deal but former Power Minister Dr Kwabena Donkor raised issues with the conclusions of the committee.

He argued the composition of the committee was in itself a problem because some members of the committee are already prejudiced having already described the deal as fraudulent and are in court facing defamatory charges.

He also did not understand why a committee constituted to investigate AMERI, would have its trip and other expenses taken care of by AMERI.

Discussing the matter on Newsfile, Kofi Bentil said whilst he has issues with the funding arrangement of the committee, the findings and its conclusions were no different from what IMANI and other civil society groups have been raising all the time.

He said even though the deal is tainted with fraud, it was so well done that it will be difficult to proceed to court and have the deal abrogated.

But the former Deputy Power Minister John Jinapor who was also on the show described the arguments by Bentil as grossly “misleading.”

According to him, Kofi Bentil sought to suggest that the former government has already paid $510 million for the deal but that is not the case.

He said paying $510 million in five years is not the same as paying that amount off the shelf for a product.

Jinapor argued that even if the cost of the plant is $350 million as Bentil wants the world to believe, in five years the cost of the plant would have shot up to $625million, insisting it made economic sense for the government to pay $510 million for five years.

He said the same arrangement with middle men, was made in the purchase of the TICO plants, the construction of the Bui dam and several other power deals and wondered why that of AMERI should be a problem.

He said AMERI is a developer who played a role in the purchase and fixing of the plant for which reason there was nothing wrong in paying them their due.