NPP on settlement debt
7/25/2012 5:00:54 PM -
Nana Akomea, Director of Communications, NPP
One major issue that has gripped this nation in 2012 is the issue of so called Judgment Debts which are more properly Settlement agreements.
The Woyome affair is a classic case that has dominated public discussion throughout this year. The nation has been shocked and traumatized by the revelations of how the NDC government paid GH¢52 million to Mr. Woyome even though the man had no contract with government and did no work.
Reeling from this nationwide indignation, the NDC government has adopted a strategy of desperately portraying judgment debts/settlement claims as matters in which all governments share blame. The government has tried to pursue this strategy by releasing selective details about other 'judgment debts/settlement claims', and attempting to portray the NPP as even more culpable. They have even tried to rope in the NPP Presidential Candidate, as also culpable in the payment of judgment debts/settlement claims.
Clearly, however, we are seeing a very disturbing pattern of behavior by the NDC that suggests official connivance and collusion bordering on the criminal. Ladies & Gentlemen, the real story of these 'settlement debts' is at best a total disregard for the responsibility government has to protect the national purse or at worst an orchestrated looting of the national coffers.
The Woyome settlement payment is a classic case. We have been told by EOCO that the President of the Republic, directed the stoppage of payments, on two occasions (April & June 2010) and ordered a court resolution OF THE CLAIMS BY Woyome..
The court (in September 2010) also granted stay of execution on two thirds of the payments, until the substantive case was fully dealt with 'pending the full determination of the matter'.
Ladies & Gentlemen, in the face of all of these orders and stays, the NDC government still managed to pay ALL the monies to Mr. Woyome.
When the payments were exposed (Auditor General Report in October 2011) and the entire nation was in justifiable shock, the President claimed no knowledge of the payments, and so ordered an investigation and report.
(December - January 2011-2012). Since then there have been investigations and reports by EOCO and the Police CID, but no word from the President.
As we speak, the NDC government is in court, claiming it has been defrauded by Mr. Woyome and praying the court to order a retrieval of the money paid to Mr. Woyome.
But Ladies and Gentlemen, as we speak, the nation still wants to understand how despite two stop orders from the President, backed by a Stay of execution from the Court, the government still managed to pay all the monies to Mr. Woyome!
This one was recently thrown up by the government in an attempt to show how the ex NPP government's 'recklessness' and 'irresponsibility' may lead to the payment of a colossal $1.7 billion to Africa Automobile limited.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the NDC government in January 2000, ordered 110 Hyundai Galloper vehicles from Africa Automobile Limited, under terms and conditions
Down payment of ¢6 billion (21 January 2000) was made. The vehicles were to be delivered by end May 2000, four months (120 days) after the initial deposit.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the vehicles were not delivered in May 2000. They had not been delivered by May 2001.
In September 2001, the new NPP government therefore wrote to cancel the order of the vehicles. The vehicles eventually arrived after the government had cancelled the order.
Africa Automobile went to court in June 2005, for an order for damages for 'wrong' termination of the order.
Government responded in a defense, justifying the cancellation of the order on grounds of non-delivery of the vehicles within the period stipulated in the agreement.
AAL's reply to this defense,filed in June 2008, nearly 3 years later, was that the non delivery of the vehicles at the required time was due mainly to their inability to secure foreign exchange (it took them 9 months) after they had received the government deposit.
The case was eventually dismissed by the Supreme Court for lack of prosecution.
Africa Automobile, in February 2011, went back to court to relist the case. Curiously, in March 2011, just a month later, AAL went back to court to discontinue or hold the case in abeyance so they could goand holdsettlementnegotiations with the NDC government.
Let's note that this resort to an out of court settlement was done on the blind side of even the then Attorney General, Hon. Martin Amidu. It is out of these same settlement negotiations that AAL is able to make demands on government, such as over $900million for loss of its franchise, among others, all totaling $1.7 billion, in claims that AAL had not been able to make in court, from 2005 till when the court case was dismissed.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the big question here is how could government be liable for a company's inability to secure foreign exchange for its own operations?
Yet still, the NDC government choseto settle out of court, and thus open itself to the gargantuan claim of $1.7 billion from AAL! Which we have been toldthe NDC government is still 'negotiating down' to hundreds of millions of dollars.
Ladies and Gents, let's also note the similarity with the Woyome payout, where an out of court settlement provided acover for gargantuan payments.
Ladies and Gentlemen, there is an interesting side note to this AAL matter.The Supreme Court has just (June 2012) dismissed a case AAL brought against the Ministry of Information (MOI).
The Supreme Court noted that contract documents presented by AAL did not qualify as such and hence dismissed the case.
Curiously, the State Attorney representing the Attorney-General's Department had wanted to accept liability, for the state to pay GH¢14 million to AAL. That huge loss was averted only because the trial judge at the High Court ruled against it! Another step in the pattern that suggests officialconnivanceand collusion to settle and cause huge payouts!!! Once again this shows a blatant attempt by the attorney general's office to use an out of court settlement to provide cover for gargantuan payments.
The Isofoton case was also highlighted in another desperate effort to show NPP 'recklessness.' Ladies and Gentlemen, Isofoton had their contract with government terminated in 2008. They filed a suit against government in October 2008 and secured default judgment. Government immediately (November 2008) filed application to set aside the default judgment, together with notice of appearance (i.e mount of defence)
One month later, the 2008 elections were held and the NDC took over government in January 2009.
In April 2010, the NDC government went to court, not to mount adefense, but to seek an out of court negotiation and settlement with Isofoton.
The government then contracted a company - Professional Group Limited, to do a desk audit of the Isofoton matter and advise government. The group was paid hundreds of thousands of tax-payers monies for this assignment. Curiously, before Professional Group Limited would present their findings to government, government had gone ahead to negotiate and settle and made payment to Isotofon!
The Professional Group found that Isofoton's case against government was not well grounded, and that government had sufficient grounds to mount a defense in court.
In subsequent meetings after the Professional Group's report, government officials agreed that by their own conduct, in concluding a settlement & proceeding to pay Isotofon, they had precluded government from mounting a defense!
In this case, Ladies and Gentlemen, whose action is reckless and irresponsible? In a further attempt to deceive Ghanaians, the NDC government decided that the remedy for pre-empting the Professional Group's advice and paying money to Isofoton was to officially blame the NPP - in a letter written for the minister of food and agriculture by the ministry's chief director in June 2011.Note also how out of court settlement was used as pretence to pay out taxpayers monies without a defense!
CONSTRUCTION PIONEERS (C.P.)
Ladies and Gentlemen, C.P had contracted to build various roads in the country, between 1996 and 2000.
Government in 2001 had raised various concerns on the rates applied, and the extent and scope of works undertaken.
The claims and counter claims between C.P. and G.O.G. were pending at various courts and arbitration panels.
C.P. at end 2007 wrote to government offering to negotiate on a claim of 95 million euros, subject to government's counter claims including taxes.
After 2009, the NDC government decided to negotiate with C.P. In the event, the NDC government agreed to the demands of C.P, (less than a million) i.e. 94 million euros, but no attempt was made to secure taxes owed by C.P. to the government and people of Ghana.
The Ghana Revenue Service (GRS) had computed taxes due from C.P as amounting to over $300 million, but this amount, due to the people of Ghana, was not collected. The Finance Minister of the Republic has stated on record that they have no power to waive taxes.
The NDC government, in negotiation, had paid out the claims of one party, without bothering about the claims of the poor Ghanaian i.e. the taxes owed by C.P.
In this country, when Ghanaian contractors are due payment of even GH¢5,000, tax is deducted at source, before payment.
Yet millions of Euros are paid by the NDC government without any effort to deduct tax.
And the NDC talks about someone's recklessness and irresponsibility! To find out 'Na who cause am'? Follow the money. Who authorized these huge payments?
Ladies and Gentlemen, there is a pattern of conduct regarding the payment of so called judgment debts or settlement, as shown in the above cases. They are very worrying. The question is what incentive is there for the penchant to negotiate such dubious act of debt settlement?
The national interest demands the prosecution of those who have been delinquent in safeguarding the monies of the people. The nation does not want propaganda smokescreens that are put out to confuse rather than to clarify possibly very serious crimes.
Ladies & Gentlemen, this is just the first installment of our interactions with you on the NDC's handling of our monies through so called judgment debts and settlement negotiations/agreements. There will be more soon.