General News of 2013-12-18

Corruption is a threat to Ghana’s peace – Catholic Bishops

The Ghana Catholic Bishops Conference says the increasing rate of corruption is a threat to the country's peace.

“It doesn’t help the nation, it doesn’t help anybody, it doesn’t promote peace because when people embezzle funds, the society suffers and so on”, President of the Conference, Most Rev. Joseph Osei-Bonsu, told XYZ News Wednesday.

According to him, corruption in every facet of life could have a serious toll on the nation as a whole and therefore urged citizens to fight corruption in their own small way, wherever it occurs.

The concern by the Catholic Bishops Conference comes on the heels of similar concerns expressed by former President Jerry Rawlings, former Majority and Minority Leader Alban Bagbin, civil society organisations and opposition parties.

The Mahama administration has been battered by a number of high profile corruption allegations since he took office this year.

Among some of the allegations is a Ghc45 million Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA) corruption scandal in which state funds channeled into afforestation and poultry projects in northern Ghana toward reducing poverty, have not been accounted for.

There was also the Ghc200 million Ghana Youth Employment and Entrepreneurial Agency (GYEEDA) scandal through which millions of state funds were allegedly diverted into private pockets.

Recently, a presidential taskforce discovered that about 288 private and state agencies evaded taxes totaling US$367 million with the collusion of officials at the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA).

Still with the GRA, it emerged that the tax collecting agency allegedly paid Ghc144 million to private IT firm Subah Info Solutions for telecommunication monitoring services, even though the job was, allegedly, not fully done.

Mahama’s Government is also yet to retrieve some €25 million from Waterville Holdings, a foreign firm, which received the amount as judgment debt with regard to the construction of some stadia in the West African country, ahead of its hosting of the 2008 Africa Cup of Nations.

Ghana’s Supreme Court ruled a few months ago that the money was paid illegally and must be refunded.

The same Court also ruled that Spanish firm, Isofoton S.A., must refund to the Government of Ghana, US$325,472 it received as judgment debt because it was illegally paid.

The latest on the list involves the offloading of 90% shares of Merchant Bank Ghana to private Equity firm, Fortiz for Ghc90 million at the expense of an earlier bid by South African Bank FirstRand which offered Ghc199 million for 75% shares of the same bank.

The Presidency and the President’s brother, Ibrahim Mahama have been mentioned in the controversy surrounding the deal.