President John Mahama has directed the Attorney General and Finance Ministry to “do all in their power” to retrieve all judgment debts paid foreign firms, Waterville and Isofoton.
Ghana’s Supreme Court ruled a few months ago that Waterville Holdings BVI, which was allegedly involved in the construction of some stadia in the West African Country, ahead of the hosting of the 2008 Africa Cup of Nations, was wrongfully paid €25m and thus must refund the money.
The same court ruled unanimously that Isofoton S.A. must also refund some US$325,472 it received as judgment debt from the Government of Ghana.
None of those monies have been retrieved, despite the definitive ruling by the apex court.
Outlining a series of stringent measures to control corruption in the country at a meeting with anti-corruption groups in civil society, the Economic and Organised Crimes Office (EOCO), the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), THE Head of Policy Monitoring and Evaluation at the Presidency, Dr Tony Aidoo, amongst others, President Mahama said he has directed the Justice Minister and the Finance Minister to work together and use all means possible to get a refund for the state.
Additionally, the president has ordered the two ministries to work with the Ministry of Youth and Sports to retrieve all monies wrongfully paid to individuals and institutions under the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA) programme as well as the Ghana Youth Employment and Entrepreneurial Development Agency (GYEEDA) programme.
About Ghc45m was allegedly wasted under SADA on non-existent guinea fowl and afforestation programmes while over Ghc203m have also, allegedly, gone into private pockets through corrupt means under the GYEEDA programme which was meant to provide employment for the youth.
President Mahama also says a contract between the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) and IT firm, Subah Info Solutions is being reviewed.
He said the contract “was not signed by authorised government representative”.
The GRA came under media scrutiny a few weeks ago for allegedly paying Ghc144m to the IT firm for no work done, as far as monitoring telecommunications traffic for the GRA is concerned.
As part of the anti-corruption measures, President Mahama has also directed his Chief of Staff to scrap the policy of selling state vehicles to public officials.
He has also directed the “scrapping” of the policy “that allows public officers to purchase state bungalows allocated to them as official residences”.
As far as GYEEDA is concerned, Mahama said: “I’ve asked the Ministry of Youth and Sports to suspend with immediate effect all payments under all GYEEDA contracts except payments of arrears to workers, beneficiaries, up to the end of the year”.
“I’ve asked the Ministry of Youth and Sports to complete a review of all modules and accompanying contracts under GYEEDA by the 15 of December and before 31st December to cancel all contracts that do not pass value for money test”, he noted.
He said he has “placed a moratorium on the creation of any new module under GYEEDA”.
He added: “I’ve instructed the minister for Justice and Attorney General, EOCO and the Ministry of Finance to work with the Ministry of Sport to achieve the following by the end of the year:
1. Secure refunds of monies wrongfully paid to or appropriated by any individual or company on contracts with SADA, GYEEDA and the Ghana Revenue Authority and 2. To do all in their power to retrieve monies paid wrongfully to Waterville and Isofoton 3. To initiate legal action against individuals or companies to secure these refunds and or to punish them for any wrongdoing established”.
“This morning I’ve just received an update from the boss of EOCO on the status of their investigation. I’ve asked EOCO to make that update known to the public in order for the public to know what action is being taken”.
He said: “I’ve asked the Minister for Justice and Attorney General to expedite work on the GYEEDA bill for submission to Parliament. The Bill is expected to ensure total oversight and efficiency in the management of GYEEDA. And the bill must focus on decentralising the programme to ensure local ownership and real benefits to our community”.
He also mentioned that: “I’ve instructed the Minister of finance and Minister for Justice and Attorney General to review and advise on the suspension of the contract with SUBAH info Solution in as the contract was not signed by the appropriate authorised government representative”.
On the buying of state properties by public officials, Mahama said: “I’ve directed the Minister of land and natural resources to present a plan within weeks for ensuring transparency under the Accra redevelopment policy and in the spirit of transparency, to publish the names of all beneficiaries of the policy by 16th of December 2013”.
“…To review all the transactions involved in the implementation of the policy within three calendar months from today and to scrap the policy that allows public officers to purchase state bungalows allocated to them as official residences.
On the buying of state vehicles, he said: “I’ve instructed the Chief of Staff, as from today, not to grant any request by any government official to purchase any state vehicle that was assigned to them for official use. Disposal of state vehicles must be publicly done and as transparently as possible”.
“I’ve directed for the re-registration with GV number plates, of all government vehicles, including project vehicles to proceed in earnest and be completed in first quarter of 2014”, he stated.
According to him, “As of last week, I’ve constituted a Committee which will determine as one of the factors for the continuous stay in office of a minister of state or head of any Government Department or Agency, an annual report on the extent to which the recommendation of the Auditor General’s Report have been implemented in the specific MDA”.
He said under his instructions, the Minister for Justice and Attorney General has submitted certain issues from the Auditor General’s report to EOCO “for investigations and possible prosecution before the financial tribunal”.
Mahama, who has come under intense criticism concerning his handling of corruption in the country said: “All Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) must present justification for application for any sole sourcing to Cabinet for scrutiny before submission to the Public Procurement Authority (PPA)”.
“Any contract above Ghc5m…must be made public either through publication in the news papers or on the new contracts management database portal that we will soon be launching”, he ordered.
As far as certain judgment debts being investigated by the Sole Commissioner are concerned, the President said: “I’m awaiting anxiously the report of the Sole Commissioner on Judgment debt and I pledge to this nation to deal firmly with the report when it is presented to me”.
“Finally I’ve requested the Minister in charge of Government business in parliament to rally his colleagues in Parliament to: ensure the quick approval of the national anti-corruption action plan, to ensure the early passage of the right to information bill, to ensure the passage of the whistle blowers amendment bill and to ensure the passage of the public officers code of conduct bill when presented to parliament”.