The Minority in Ghana’s Parliament has begun collecting signatures in a bid to recall the House over the “rotten” and “stinking” ECG/PDS deal.
The 106 opposition MPs want Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta to be hauled before the House to explain how come he and Vice-President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, unilaterally and arbitrarily, without recourse to Parliament, varied the agreed terms of the deal from
“PDS is a stinker, it’s rotten to the core”, the Ranking Member of the Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee of Parliament, Alhaji Inusah told Class News in an interview on Thursday, 12 September 2019, adding: “Even when PDS was presented to us in Parliament, we had grave reservations that even the shareholders, there were questions on their competence, capacity and resourcefulness”.
“We traced some of the shareholders to barbering shops at East Legon and we raised all these things. The government used its numbers to pass the deal. Subsequent events have shown that even the agreement that we passed that require investors, the private sector to meet some conditions precedent, was subsequently changed by the Vice-President and the Minister of Finance to conditions subsequent without recourse to Parliament.
“Now, the agreement identified the shareholders and allotment of shares or their various proprietary interest in the PDS deal. We subsequently sighted a letter in which the Minister of Finance directed the lead negotiator, Akoto Ampaw, to consolidate all the shares and vest everything in a single-purpose vehicle contrary to the resolution of Parliament”, Mr Fuseini explained.
“These are grave issues”, he complained, observing: “I’ve never seen a government treat resolutions of Parliament with impunity. That is contempt of Parliament and that is why we are recalling Parliament to discuss the matter and understand the authority, the capacity of the Vice-President or the Minister of Finance, to vary the express resolutions of Parliament”.
A 32-page report by US-based consulting firm, FTI Consulting, which was commissioned by the Millennium Development Authority (MiDA) to investigate the deal after the government said it discovered certain anomalies and discrepancies, noted that PDS only contributed $1 million out of the $12.25 million that was charged as Demand Guarantees and only paid the balance after it began receiving revenue from customers of ECG.
“… If Parliament resolves that there’ll be some conditions precedent to the conclusion and evocation of the lease agreement entered into the private sector and those conditions precedent have been changed without recourse to Parliament into conditions subsequent, you don’t need anybody to tell you that that is an egregious violation, breach of the resolution.
“So, we’ll want to the minister, first of all – I mean you can’t condemn without first giving a hearing, not so? – so we’ll want the minister to come to Parliament. That is the intent of the motion that we’re trying to move; recalling Parliament to move a motion compelling the minister to give us reasons why he expressly, together with the Vice-President, violated the resolutions that were passed in Parliament.
“We’re still collecting the signatures. Until we get the requisite number of signatures – mind you the Members of Parliament are on recess – so, it’s difficult to get all of them to append their signatures and we need about one-third of the Members of Parliament”, Mr Fuseini said.
Just a few days ago, President Nana Akufo-Addo explained that the government suspended the Power Distribution Services (PDS) agreement in the interest of the public.
The President insisted that the move was to protect the assets of the Electricity Company of Ghana worth over $3 billion.
According to President Akufo-Addo, the decision to make the suspension of the PDS agreement public was “for the country to know exactly what is going on, and, therefore, hold the government to account for its stewardship.”
Addressing members of the Ghanaian community in Angola on Thursday, 8 August 2019, the President explained that his government inherited an arrangement in which the United States government, through the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), offered the country half a billion dollars of money for the reform of the energy sector.
“It was decided to incorporate it largely into the reform of the Electricity Corporation of Ghana. One of the conditions of the money was that we should get a private electricity coordinator to partner with the nation to manage our electricity generation and distribution system,” he said.
President Akufo-Addo continued: “After a process of bidding and tendering which left us with one company in the field, an arrangement was made for that company to take over the running of the assets of ECG. Subsequently, we discovered that some of the financial instruments the company put in place were not in order, and, as a result of that, we have had to suspend the concession until all the facts are established.”
The President explained that a fundamental part of the agreement required that PDS put up a guarantee to cover some $400 million.
“It turned out that there are problems with this guarantee. Therefore, the protection that we should have in the transaction was not really there. The matter came to our notice, and we decided that the first thing to do was to protect the public assets by suspending the agreement with this private sector operator and returning the assets to the control of the ECG while a process of investigation was being carried out,” he added.
President Akufo-Addo told the gathering that he sent a delegation to Qatar on Tuesday, 6 August 2019, the origin of the guarantee, to find out exactly what the situation was.
“They [Ghanaian delegation] met them [Al Koot Insurance and Reinsurance]. They are on their way back. By the time I get back to Accra tomorrow [Friday], we will know exactly where we are,” he said.
The decision to suspend the agreement, the President said, was necessary “to protect the public interest, and to protect the ECG assets in excess of 3 billion [dollars]. These are not assets that you can take lightly. They were taken to protect the public interest and to make sure that the delinquency if that is what it turns out to be, was nipped in the bud as soon as possible,” the President added.
He assured that the suspension of the agreement with PDS “will not disturb the flow of electricity in the country. Things will continue on a stable basis.”