General News of Saturday, 1 July 2017
THE Majority in Parliament has urged the government to set up a high-powered committee to probe or conduct a forensic audit into the activities of the Bulk Oil Storage and Transportation Limited (BOST) from 2009.
It said the probe was needed to expose all the improprieties committed at the BOST over the period, including the contamination of fuel, to provide the basis for addressing the wrongs holistically.
The Majority also denied allegations by the Minority that the recent contamination of the five million litres of fuel at BOST happened during the tenure of the current Managing Director (MD), Mr Alfred Obeng Boateng, and refuted the claim that the contaminated fuel was sold at GH¢1 to Movenpinna.
It also rejected the suggestion that the contaminated fuel was in circulation and also indicated that the Company’s Act allowed for the transaction with an unregistered company, contrary to the position of the Minority.
Speaking at a press conference in Accra yesterday, the acting Chairman of the Energy Committee of Parliament, Mr Emmanuel Akwasi Gyamfi, said “the events playing out at BOST require engagement and interrogation.”
Mr Gyamfi said it did appear that there had been a lot of rot at BOST, which required full-scale investigations.
“We agree that we require a high-powered committee to investigate these and other related improprieties, determine the extent to which these affect and have affected the economy and efficiency of BOST, and whether their operations are being managed in accordance with sound business principles and prudent commercial practices”, he said.
The Minority in Parliament last week held a press conference and accused Mr Obeng Boateng of causing a financial loss of GH¢14.25 loss to the state through the contamination of five million litres of petrol and the subsequent sale of the product to a private company.
The Minority, therefore, called for the interdiction of Mr Obeng Boateng and a full-scale investigation into the deal.
The Minister of Energy, Mr Boakye Agyarko, has already put a committee in place to investigate the whole issue.
The NDC alleged in its press statement that “under no circumstance should BOST experience such high level of contamination as we are witnessing”.
The truth of the matter, without justifying the recent event though, was that, in 2014 under the NDC, a similar contamination occurred, the quantity involved was 4.6million litres; in 2015, still under the NDC, another contamination occurred, the quantity involved was 9.9million litres; 2016 witnessed the mother of all contaminations, the quantity involved amounted to 12million litres.
Mr Gyamfi said the claim by the Minority that BOST sold the contaminated fuel to Movenpinna at GH¢1.30 which in turn sold it to ZUP Oil at a 30 per cent higher cost was false.
Rather, he said, Movenpinna bought the contaminated product at GH¢1.30 and then sold to ZUP Oil at a price of GH¢1.32 and thus made a marginal profit of GH¢100,000.
The legislator said between 2014 and 2016 when the contamination of fuel products escalated, the average price that the product was sold for was GH¢0.70 (70 pesewas) per litre, as the price ranged from GH¢0.50 to GH¢0.90.
“The sale price of the recent contaminated product at GH¢1.30, which is 86 per cent higher than what was obtained in the past is the highest value the nation has ever earned,” he said.
Therefore, he said, the five million litres contaminated product would have ordinarily sold at GH¢8,750,000.
“In the face of the contamination, the sale of the product at GH¢1.30 per litre yielded GH¢6,500,000 which represents a shortfall of GH¢2,250,000.00 and not the conjured figure of GH¢14.25 million”, he said.
Mr Gyamfi said the allegation by the Minority that Movenpinna was chosen to purchase the contaminated price on May 19, 2017 when the company had not been registered as a limited liability company and allegation that the company only got to be registered on May 29, 2017, ten days after the offer to same company to buy the five million litres when it had no licence from the National Petroleum Authority (NPA) to engage in that business, needed to be investigated.
“One would want to believe though that Dr Kwabena Donkor and Mr Armah Kofi Buah are aware that the Companies Act under Section 13 allows for a contract or any transaction entered into by a company prior to its formation or by a person on behalf of the company prior to its formation,” he said.
Mr Gyamfi refuted the Minority’s claim that the contamination happened due to the inefficiencies and negligence of Mr Obeng.
“As has emerged now, the five million litres contaminated fuel was detected on January 18, 2017, exactly 11 days after the swearing-in of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo. Alfred Obeng Boateng had not at that time assumed office to take over, and Mr Awuah Darko was still, effectively, the CEO,” he said.
He said BOST management investigation established that, that occurrence was attributed to human error, and indicated that four staff members who were in charge of operations at the time were interdicted before Alfred Obeng was posted there.
Mr Gyamfi said under the former Managing Director of BOST, Mr Awuah Darko, the company rented a property, House No.11 Nortei Ababio St., Airport Residential Area.
He said more than two years after BOST had vacated the premises, the management kept the keys and kept paying the rent for non-use of the facility, adding that in that event, BOST paid $310,000 in June 2016 from taxpayers’ money.
Mr Gyamfi said there were several commitments that BOST made in 2016, especially between July 2016 and January 7, 2017, which must be investigated.
“Since 2015, BOST, under the guise of Security Transfer, has transferred unexplained colossal amounts of between GH¢2.5 and GH¢3.5 million on bi-monthly basis to the Office of the then President and the then Chief of Staff, the last amount being GH¢3 million which was transferred on January 3, 2017,’’ he said.
The Majority Leader, Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, wanted the investigation for Ghanaians to be clear as to what needed to be done to save the nation from losing money.
He said the Majority wanted the best for the country and that it would not shirk its responsibility.