General News of Tue, 5 Sep 20176

Local Government ministry can be sued to provide information on Jospong contracts - Bentil

The Vice President of IMANI Ghana is suggesting legal action to compel officials of the local Government ministry to release information about questionable contracts signed by the Ministry and the Jospong Group of companies.

Kofi Bentil says public servants are only custodians of information but have no right to keep that information from the public except it is a national secret.

He said it should be entirely possible for any Ghanaian to seek information from public officials on any matter of public interest and should be provided same.

He was reacting to the failure by the Local Government Ministry to provide the Multimedia Group Ltd information on a questionable 98 million cedis contract signed with the Jospong Group of companies.

Joy News’ Manasseh Awuni Azure has uncovered details of a 2015 fumigation contract signed between the Local Government Ministry and 11 companies all owned by the Jospong Group of companies.

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The investigations also uncovered that this contract was awarded at a time government had two spraying contracts with another member of the Jospong Group, Zoomlion, to do the same job. The two Zoomlion contracts covered all the 216 Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs).

The contract awarded in 2015 for four months, was for fumigation across the country but some of the assemblies say they do not know about the companies which were supposed to undertake the exercise in their localities.

Joy News’ investigative journalist, Manasseh Azure Awuni, who spent the last nine months investigation questionable contracts between the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development and the Jospong Group of companies, has been investigating the story in a series titled 'Robbing the Assemblies'.

Zoomlion Ghana Limited has a long running fumigation or open spraying contract with all the 216 MMDAs in the country. In a year, each district assembly pays Gh?161,000, every municipal assembly pays GH?184, 000 while the Metropolitan assemblies pay GH?207,000 each, for the fumigation.

As if this existing contract is not enough a new contract was signed with 11 Jospong companies to do the same job.

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With a new government in power it was to be expected that they will cooperate with the investigator who was searching for several other documents on the matter.

However Manasseh Azure Awuni is complaining about failure by the new Minister Hajia Alima Mahama, the Chief Director at the Ministry and other officials to cooperate.

Several attempts to get details of other contracts from the Ministry has proven futile.

Kofi Bentil in commenting on the matter on Joy News said the Local Government ministry must begin to provide information or they must be forced by a court of competent jurisdiction to do so.

He also urged Parliament to, with immediate effect, pass the freedom of information act to make it easier for the public to acquire information.

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