Napo, Omane Boamah Battle over $1.7m donor cash

The yanking off of $1.7 million out of the $350 million facility to execute rural electrification project to purchase luxurious cars by the government has once again sparked off a heated debate between the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the government.

Whilst the minister of Communications, Dr. Omane Boamah insists that the contract for the rural electrification project was negotiated and approved by the NPP government, including the purchase of the cars to monitor the project, Dr. Mathew Opoku Prempeh, the Member of Parliament for Manhyia South, disagrees.

Dr. Prempeh told The Chronicle in a telephone interview yesterday that the whole contract was re-negotiated by the former Minister of Energy, Dr. Oteng Adjei, when the NDC government assumed office in 2009 and that some of the communities that were to enjoy from the project were even removed from the list after the renegotiation.

Dr. Prempeh contended that even if it was NPP that ordered the purchase of the luxurious cars, NDC could have changed it. According to the outspoken MP, the Auditor General, who blew the cover for the purchase of the cars, argued in its report, which he (Napo) had sighted, that the purchase of the cars were not part of the resolution that was approved by Parliament.

In the said Auditor General (AG) report, a copy of which is in the hands of The Chronicle, the AG noted that though Parliament gave approval to the turnkey arrangement, through a resolution, the vehicles and office equipment were not in the proposal which was sent to the legislature for approval.

It said though the Ministry asserted that the vehicles were for supervision, the cars which include; Lexus LX570 and Chrysler 300 models were too expensive and luxurious for monitoring the project.

The 53 page report noted that the Ministry of Energy acquired the vehicles and equipment which were not supported by any line item in the Bills of Quantities through the turnkey project.

“From our analysis of project cost build-up, the expenditure on the vehicles and equipment is likely to be charged against the contingency fund of US$17,500,000.00 included in the total contract sum of the project. “But the purpose of a contingency fund in contracts is to serve as a fund for clients to fall on in the event of an unforeseen circumstance during the implementation of a contract,” the report said.

It observed that using funds to purchase items not budgeted for in the contract could reduce the number of communities that would benefit from the extension of electricity and inflate the actual cost of the electricity project to include items that were not directly used for the project thereby affecting cost planning of similar projects in the future.

That notwithstanding, it said such indiscipline could be an incentive for officials likely to benefit from such practices to quickly approve sole-source procurement without in-depth analysis of the proposal, and motivate officials in other Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to devise similar strategies to by-pass laid down regulations and make frivolous spending.

To Napo, if the purchase of the cars was not part of the resolution approved by Parliament as indicated by the AG report, then the onus is on the government to provide incontrovertible evidence to back their claim that NPP government ordered for the purchase of the cars.

Minister Boamah on his part argued in a text message he sent to the host of the Metro TV Morning show host, Eric Koku Ahianyo, which was read on air that Cabinet approved the loan on July 17, 2007, with Parliament assenting to the deal on in August 2008 –meaning that the whole contract was approved by the NPP government and not the NDC.

Dr. Napo, who was on the programme went bananas over the text message, indicating that his colleague medical doctor was a liar and that he knew what he was saying was false. Eric Ahianyo and Kwesi Pratt Junior, who was also on the programme, however, compelled the Manhyia South MP to withdraw the word liar, which he did.

Meanwhile, Joy FM is also reporting that the purchase of 38 luxury vehicles by the Energy and Petroleum Ministry was negotiated by the New Patriotic Party in 2007.

Sources at the Ministry said the purchase of the vehicles valued $1,745, 159, was also approved by Parliament in 2008 as part of 350 million dollar US Exim bank facility the Auditor General said was meant for extending electricity to 1,200 communities under the Multi-Donor Budgetary Support Programme.

Seeking to set the records straight on this matter, Joy News’ sources at the Energy and Petroleum Ministry presented the facts below.

1. The vehicles formed part of a 350 million dollar US Exim bank facility (loan) for rural electrification.

2. The negotiations started in 2007 and was passed by parliament in 2008. (When NPP was in power)

3. The said vehicles had been negotiated by the NPP ministers as part of the package (because under the facility, the US Exim bank’s loan, the vehicles component could only be used to American made vehicles)

4. Dr. Oteng Agyei (Minister in 2009) did a value for money audit on the cost of the project when he assumed office as energy minister in 2009 and saved the nation about $50 million, which translated into more communities having access to electricity.

5. The said vehicles, including Lexus 4×4 which had been negotiated as part of the package in 2008 were delivered in 2010.

Meanwhile, a member of the finance committee of parliament, Kwaku Kwarteng, has called on President Mahama to act on the Auditor General’s report.

He is challenging the president to demonstrate his commitment to the fight against corruption by ensuring persons identified to have benefited from the use of the luxury cars are brought to book.

Source : The Chronicle