Says Controller And Accountant General
The Controller and the Accountant-General, Mr. Christian Tetteh-Sottie has categorically stated that Government has not made any payment so far in connection with the proposal to acquire two Presidential Jets – Airbus 319 ER and its support aircraft, the Falcon 900 – as is being alleged by some leaders of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and media practitioners.
“I have not received any orders in any form to order payment in respect of the purchase of any aircraft”, Mr. Tetteh-Sottie told this paper in an interview, adding that “as the Controller and Accountant-General we have not ordered the Bank of Ghana to make any payment to any Aircraft manufacturer”.
The ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) Government of President J.A. Kufuor recently put before Parliament, for approval the proposal to buy the said aircraft as part of the programme to refurbish the Ghana Air Force fleet.
The existing fleet which is made up of seven planes that were acquired in the mid-seventies would be grounded on technical grounds by 2010.
However, the proposal to acquire the aircraft was met with strong opposition by the NDC.
Leading members of the NDC vehemently accused the Government of signing a sales contract with aircraft manufacturer, Dassault Aviation, SA and paying 5 percent of the cost of the aircraft as dictated by the agreement, when Parliamentary approval had not been sought and given.
Despite the explanation by Dr. Akoto Osei, Deputy Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, and Mr. Kan Dapaah, Minister for Defence, that no money had been paid so far, because the sales contract had not been placed before the House for Parliamentary approval, the NDC stuck to their guns insisting that money had been paid in violation of the Constitution.
Alluding to part of the payment schedule of the sales contract which says “Buyer shall pay for the Aircraft in accordance with the following schedule: (a) 5% (five percent) of the price due upon signature of this Sales Contract, ie: US$1,857,500 (one million, eight hundred and fifty-seven thousand, five hundred US dollars)”, the NDC caucus in Parliament and some members of it (NDC) outside Parliament have maintained that because Dr. Akoto Osei, had signed the sales contract the money had been paid.
However, they have strangely not taken note of another section of the sales contract headed “COMING INTO FORCE” (Paragraph 22) under which it is stated, “once signed by the parties, this Contract shall come into force upon receipt by Seller of a notice from Buyer indicating that this Contract has been approved by the Parliament of the Republic of Ghana”.
It continued that “If such notice is not received by Seller on or prior to March 10, 2008, it shall be deemed null and void”.
It ends by saying that “If Seller has not received the down payment due upon Contract signature as per Exhibit 2 within 15 (fifteen) days of receipt of the above mentioned notice, the present Contract shall be automatically terminated forthwith without any notice to the Buyer”.
“Evidence of proof of payment by government cannot lie in the section of the sales contract being quoted by the NDC. The proof of payment can only be authenticated via documentation from the Controller and Accountant-General’s Department and the Bank of Ghana. This is common knowledge. This is elementary”, quipped a financial analyst who preferred not to be identified.