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General News Fri, 14 Apr 2017

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Addison committee credibility at stake – Manteaw

The Civil Society Platform on Oil and Gas (CSPOG) has said that the Addison committee constituted to investigate the AMERI deal signed by the erstwhile National Democratic Congress (NDC) government is in a serious conflict of interest position.

In a press release signed by Chairman of CSPOG, Dr Steve Manteaw, the platform said: “It also constitutes a big blow to the integrity of the personnel and institutions involved, as well as the credibility of their work.”

Information Minister Mustapha Hamid has indicated that AMERI Energy indeed paid for the flight and hotel accommodation of the Philip Addison committee that was in Dubai to conduct investigations into the deal the company signed with the government of Ghana in 2015.

His comments confirmed accusations by former Power Minister Dr Kwabena Donkor who revealed that the flight costs and hotel accommodation of three members of the committee delegated to have discussions with AMERI Energy, as part of a probe into the deal signed between the John Mahama government and the company in Dubai, were borne by the company under investigation.

The statement said there have also been several cases of government officials who are supposed to have oversight responsibilities over companies and institutions being sponsored by these same companies on trips abroad, serving on the boards of these companies, or being involved with the companies for personal gain.

CSPOG holds the view that “the trend is indeed worrying, as it constitutes a huge impediment to the fight against corruption”.

It has, therefore, charged government to ensure that it provides committees set up to investigate matters the necessary resources and not depend on the entities being investigated for help.

Below is the statement:

Hon. Mustapha Hamid’s admission that AMERI funded the Addison Committee’s trip to Dubai as part of investigations into the AMERI deal has raised serious conflict of interest issues.

Media reports alleged that AMERI paid for the hotel and air tickets of the committee members to Dubai to aid the Addison committee’s investigation. This situation has led to people, especially the NDC to question the credibility of the report issued by the committee.

According to Dr. Kwabena Donkor, the Former Minister Of Power under whom the agreement was signed, AMERI’s sponsorship of the Committee compromises the integrity of Philip Addison and his committee to conduct any investigation whatsoever into the deal. While the Civil Society Platform on Oil and Gas (CSPOG) welcomes the public debate that has ensued following the revelation, it wishes to point out that, it has, unfortunately, become the norm, rather than the exception in Ghana for state official and entities to place themselves in positions of conflicting interests.

In 2015 before the Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) was signed between state-owned distributor, Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) and Karpowership Ghana Company Limited, members of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Mines And Energy, who were responsible for ensuring due diligence before the contract was signed by the government, and who was saddled with responsibility for ratifying the transaction were sponsored on a trip to Turkey by the very company (Karpowership) that the agreement was to be signed with. Karpowership paid their airfares, hotel expenses and per diems.

There have also been several cases of government officials who are supposed to have oversight responsibilities over companies and institutions being sponsored by these same companies on trips abroad, serving on boards of these companies or involved with the company for personal gains. The trend is indeed worrying, as it constitutes a huge impediment to the fight against corruption.

It also constitutes a big blow to the integrity of the personnel and institutions involved, as well as the credibility of their work. CSPOG recalls that the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) embarked on a mission to develop conflict of interest guidelines for public office holders during the reign of President Kufuor, but wonders what became of the exercise. Now that CHRAJ is being called upon by the NDC to investigate the Philip Addison Committee, CSPOG takes the opportunity to urge that, any such investigation must lead to the prescription and adoption of guidelines by which public office holders, institutions, and investigative committees would be held to.

As part of remedial measures, the state must be required at all times, to make funding available to sponsor activities of committees set up to investigate cases of corruption, as in the case of AMERI, to prevent creating avenues for possible bribery which leads to loss of credibility of the committees’ reports. If the government cannot ensure adequate funding is available to sponsor investigations, then they shouldn’t set committees up in the first place.

Signed Steve Manteaw (Chairman, CSPOG)

Source: Class FM

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