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The review of the AMERI deal signed between the John Mahama administration and AMERI Energy is a good decision because the cost involved was excessive, Kofi Bentil, Vice President of IMANI Ghana, has said.
He, however, insisted that news about AMERI paying for the hotel accommodation and flight costs of the team that travelled to Dubai to carry out the investigation was worrying and raises issues of conflict of interest.
Dr Kwabena Donkor, who was the Minister of Power at the time the deal was signed, at a press conference mounted a strong defence of the deal and shredded the report of the 17-member Philip Addison committee which has called for a renegotiation of the deal. The Committee was put together by Energy Minister Boakye Agyarko.
Dr Donkor, who led Ghana in signing the deal last week, said: “The [Addison] committee claimed there was no legal opinion from the Attorney General’s Department, but the Attorney General’s Department was strongly represented throughout the negotiations by both professional staff and management. The final agreement was witnessed by the Deputy Attorney General and Minister of Justice.
“We will pledge our support to the government as long as the issues of energy are being resolved in the national interest, but if they introduce partisanship in this way, much against our wish, we will be forced to respond.
“Members of the Addison Committee, including Mr Addison, visited Dubai, they had meetings with AMERI even after this report was written. We will want to ask who paid for their tickets. Who paid for the hotel accommodation that they used? We have the evidence that AMERI Energy paid for their hotel, AMERI Energy paid for their flight tickets. If you are going to investigate someone, do they pay for your tickets and pay for your accommodation and host you?”
Speaking on Multi TV’s Newsfile on Saturday April 8, Mr Bentil, also a private legal practitioner, said: “Since Africa Centre for Energy Policy, IMANI and others started questioning this deal, we have not heard a good enough explanation why we paid $510 million for 10 pieces of equipment when Indonesia paid $435 million for 20 pieces of it.
“The review of this deal is justified, the review is proper because they have to do due process. I think where they (the review committee) made a mistake and the optics of it is bad that they had to get the same people they were investigating to pay and go and put them in hotel and treat them nicely.
“My only problem is that it (the review) looks political and the group that went to do the review flew to Dubai, paid for by AMERI itself. The optics don’t look good because that is where you see conflict and things. I am not saying they were compromised but I think that, maybe we should have found others ways of dealing with that. That is the only thing I will fault them on but I think it is proper for us to investigate this deal.”
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