General News of 2014-01-04

Parliament will probe Merbank sale whether complete or not

Deputy Minority Leader, Dominic Nitiwul, has revealed parliament will proceed with its inquiry into the Merchant Bank Fortiz deal despite reports of the deal being completed. He said the work of parliament is in the interest of the public and not influenced by politics.
According to Mr Nitiwul, Parliament will invite officials of the Central Bank, Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) and Merchant Bank Ghana over the sale of majority shares in the latter bank to Fortiz Private Equity Limited.
He said after a motion to look into the acquisition of the 90 per cent shares by Fortiz is approved by the House on Monday, January 6, 2014, when it convenes, officials of the three state institutions will be invited.
Officials of Fortiz will not be invited since it is a private firm which just offered to buy a state asset, the member said.
Speaking to TV3’s Edward Kwabi in an exclusive interview on Friday, January 3, 2014, Dominic Aduna Bingab Nitiwul, the Deputy Minority Leader, stated that he led the motion – signed by over 80 other members of the House – to call members from recess.
He said the motion enjoined the Speaker of the House to invoke Article 112 (3) of the 1992 Constitution and Standing Order 38 of Parliament to re-call members just a few weeks after having proceeded on recess.
“We wanted to debate [the sale/acquisition of Merchant Bank] in February [when Parliament resumes] but felt the matter was too important for us to wait,” he said.
The sale of 90 per cent shares in Merchant Bank to Fortiz Private Equity has generated lots of controversy in the country, with efforts of civil society organizations, individuals and groups to stop the sale coming to naught.
“As Parliament, we have the duty to protect the interest of the public,” Mr Nitiwul, who is also Member for Bimbilla Constituency, adduced.
A writ by Andrew Awuni, Executive Director of Center for Freedom and Accuracy to have the deal properly looked into was dismissed last month.
According to Mr Nitiwul, it is that court that even prompted the action from Parliament.
“The court actually said that it was only Parliament that can call for investigation into the acquisition/sale,” he said, noting that a “knee-jerk” statement issued by Fortiz will not count in any way to discussion on the motion.
“It is a motion that is devoid of politics,” he said of the motion to be debated on the floor on Monday.
“It is irrespective whether the sale is complete or not,” he added.
He observed that as of 2007, Merchant Bank was one of the best banks in Ghana and so “between 2007 and now what has gone wrong that Merchant Bank is on its knees that it will collapse if it is not sold?” with additional files from GhanaWeb
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