General News of Wednesday, 7 February 2018
The specialized vehicles – some bulletproof – ordered by then President John Dramani Mahama at the tail end of his National Democratic Congress (NDC) administration on January 3, 2017, have arrived.
The acquisition of the vehicles, which sparked heated political debate during the transition in early 2017, reportedly arrived via air cargo; and DAILY GUIDE understands that they include Mercedes Benz (S600), BMW and Toyota Land Cruisers.
43 vrs 34
However, the deal, which was worth $9.1 million for the procurement of 43 special vehicles with communication squadron and ambulances, was re-negotiated by the Akufo-Addo-led New Patriotic Party (NPP) government, and as a result, the contract sum reduced to $8.8 million.
In the end, the NPP government took delivery of 34 vehicles instead of the original 43, and the money that was to have been paid on the nine outstanding vehicles was used to purchase 100 Toyota Corolla cars for the Ghana Police Service (GPS).
Sources said additional 100 Toyota Camry cars may be added to the deal.
Setting The Records
Information Minister Mustapha Hamid said at a news conference yesterday that the “government is bound by the terms of the contract signed with Amalgamated Securities Limited,” and added that “abrogating the contract may incur significant liabilities for government.”
He indicated that “in doing so, government has however, made sure to obtain maximum gain for the public purse and also for ensuring the security of the state. The government of President Mahama ordered 43 VIP vehicles at a cost of $9.1 million.”
Mr. Mustapha Hamid stated that the government renegotiated the terms of the contract such that it was able to reduce the number of vehicles ordered from 43 to 34, which is nine short of the original number.
“In place of the nine, we have acquired 100 Toyota Corolla cars for use by the Police Service in line with our commitment to retool the Police Service to enable it play effectively, its role of protecting the Ghanaian people. We have done all this with a total amount of 8.8 million United States Dollars,” he underscored.
The minister said, “This decision is consistent with our approach towards contracts that we came to meet, where if possible, we have renegotiated the terms to make them more favourable to the Ghanaian people.”
He said for example, that the Ministry of Education renegotiated the cost of printing textbooks, which the former government had signed with printers and instead of GH¢134 million, the ministry was able to renegotiate downwards to GH¢89 million.
“It is in this same spirit that the Finance Minister asked the Auditor General to audit the financial liabilities that had been bequeathed to us, and which has revealed that some GH¢5.4 billion of legacy debts are dodgy,” Mr Hamid pointed out.
The minister said the government remains committed to protecting the public purse while ensuring value for money and securing the greater good of the people.
In the heat of the transition, it emerged that then President Mahama, with only three days to leave office after failing to secure a second term bid, ordered a fleet of expensive vehicles for the presidency to the chagrin of the incoming NPP administration.
Per the contractual terms, the vehicles were to be delivered within 60 days after which payment would be made.
However, their delivery ran into difficulties due to some unresolved issues, including the indefinite moratorium placed on the acquisition of new vehicles by the Akufo-Addo-led NPP administration.
But with the valid contract between the importing company and the Ghana government, huge judgement debt loomed if it (government) had gone ahead to abrogate the contract.
The contract was signed on behalf of the previous NDC government by Alhaji Salifu Osman, a Deputy National Security Coordinator, who is currently standing trial in the $4 million National Communications Authority (NCA) scandal.
Per the contract, the fleet was to cover the president, vice president, first and the second ladies and the presidential press corps.
The vehicles are mostly Mercedes Benz (S600) bullet-proof made for the security of the president and his vice, as well as their wives, and Cross-country vehicles, for long distant treks and escorts and two Cross-country rapid intervention vehicles, two Cross-country ambulances and a pickup with radio and communication as lead car.
A large number of the cars were to be allocated to the office of the president and the vice president, while the remaining ones were to go to the office of the first and the second ladies, as well as the security agents.
In the heat of the debate, the NDC leaders insisted that the previous Mahama administration indeed placed the order to re-stock the depleting presidential fleet for the incoming regime in order to make room for the smooth running of the new administration.
Currently, the president uses 10-year old BMW which occasionally breaks down with high servicing costs; and when the car go for servicing, he uses his private ones, which is detrimental to his personal security.