General News of 2014-04-23

Bankswitch Saga: Gov’t is being economical with the truth

The Government of Ghana, through the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Madam Marrieta Brew Appiah-Oppong, has finally admitted that judgment has been given against Ghana in the case in which Bankswitch sued the Government of Ghana for the abrogation of their contract.

In her admission, however, the Minister sought to give the impression that Government had mitigated the penalty by about GHc600 million and, therefore, needed to be applauded. The fact is that Ghana Government has got to pay a whopping amount of GHc197.49million to Bankswitch as a result of that reckless abrogation of the Bankswitch contract.

We cannot applaud people who against all advise cancel contracts and incur debts for the country and turn around to say they managed to reduce the debt so we should applaud them. Ghana did not have to incur the debt in the first place if these officials put the national interest over their personal and parochial interest.

It reminds me of a young man who got a ticket of US25 for wrongful packing. The young man refused to pay for over year and the value of the ticket rose to US175 as a result of interest that had accrued. At that point, the young man then went and negotiated to pay US100. The young man then returned with all smiles claiming that he paid only US100 and, therefore, should be applauded. Hell No!!!!!!!! The ticket was only US25 and you refused to pay.

Some state officials against the advise of late President Mills abrogated the contract and handed over the Valuation job to GCNET and some Destination Inspection Companies (DICs) to carry out. The Valuation Module that Bankswitch put in place was to be owned and operated by the Government of Ghana. It is the property of Ghana. Ghana did not have to pay anything for its use. But these officials preferred paying DICs to do the job for very obvious reasons.

Unknown to these officials and the Attorney General, in the 2012 and 2013 annual budgets, the Minister of Finance had lamented on revenue leakages and declared that when the contracts with the DICs expired, the country will handover valuation at the ports to the Customs and the Ghana Revenue Authority.

It was precisely because of these revenue leakages that Bankswitch was engaged to establish the platform for valuations. We are sorry to say that when the Attorney General says that Bankswitch was contracted to do a job that was already being done by GCNET and DICs, she is being economical with the truth.

Ghana Government pays the DICs 0.82 per cent of all import duties emanating from their valuations apart from the losses that occur because these systems that are operated by private people are frequently compromised. If the Government has its own valuation module and operated by state officials, the country could plug the revenue leakages and also save the 0.82 per cent that is paid to the DICs. The reason for the abrogation of the Bankswitch contract is too obvious and those who did that must be held responsible.