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07.12.2006 General News

‘‘Aye fe notse” exploitation at Ghana Telecom

By Gye Nyame Concord
‘‘Aye fe notse” exploitation at Ghana Telecom
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.... $5.4 million to Telenor over dubious contract
In an amazing giveaway that defies business and economic sense, the government of Ghana has paid over ¢131.76 billion to the 22 Telenor-imported expatriates from Norway for their management of Ghana Telecom (GT) over the past three years.

In dollar denomination, the amount works up to over $43 million.

Government has also doled out an additional $5.4 million over the same period to the Telenor Management Partners (TMP), the Norway-registered management company which employed the 22 Norwegians led by GT's CEO Fraude Haugen, before flying them to Accra to manage the state-owned company.

This brings the total money paid to Telenor and its staff in dollar terms to almost one-third of the $150 million loan sourced by President Kufuor from the French-Chinese company, Alcatel of Shanghai, to expand GT's network after Telekom Malaysia, the former 30 percent Malaysian shareholders in GT were kicked out.

It also means the TMP group used 73.3 per cent of a $60 million syndicated loan they proudly claim they managed to negotiate from six Ghanaian banks on assumption of duty to pay themselves.

While the amount paid to the 22 workers represents the fat salaries and allowances of ¢3.66 billion paid per month to all of them, the $5.4 million represents the $150,000 a month earnings made by Telenor for its management of GT over the three year period.

Interestingly, while the Norwegians laughed all the way to the bank with their money-spinning contract, the Ghanaian staff of GT numbering over 4000 earned shoe-string salaries and were oblivious of how much their white bosses were making.

Sources say no senior Ghanaian official at GT knew of how much their bosses were making until this paper broke the story weeks ago.

This was because the entitlement of the Telenor staff was virtually handled at the Government-TMP contractual level.

Major Albert Don Chebe (Rtd), Head of Corporate Communications at GT could, therefore, not respond to questions surrounding the salaries of his bosses when reached.

“It's a response l don't have because l wasn't party to that discussion when it took place and l'd rather you put that particular question to the Ministry of Communications, which had the discussion with TMP” he answered when asked yesterday what criteria was used to set the salaries of the 22 expats.

This paper can also reveal that until three months ago, the right of who authorize, raise and sign checks of the state-owned company rested solely with the Norwegians, who brought in the first CEO, Oystein Bjorge, as well as the current CEO.

The man whose job it was to manage and watch over the company's accounts was also handed over to the Norwegians, who quickly put Mr Arvid Knutsen in charge.

The other key post, Chief Technical Officer (CTO), who determines what equipment, machinery or products GT would have to procure for years was also given to another Norwegian, Jarle Rekve.

Any of the two officers (CFO or CTO) until recently were the only ones who could sign GT cheques together with the CEO under the contractual agreement between the Ghana Government (Read details of how they were virtually kicked out in a coup led by some members of the current GT Board and the grumblings of staff among other issues on Friday).

Besides, the Norwegians brought in people under the guise of advisors to handle the finance/accounts department of the company, virtually repeating what the sacked Malaysians were accused of.
The lead beneficiary of the entitlement arrangement under the Government-GT arrangement was the TMP consultancy itself, which laughed to the bank with a staggering $150,000 every month.

Individually, the CEO stands out tall. Mr. Fraude Haugen has been banking home 100,443 Norwegian Kroner, which according to GT's own conversion rate works up to over ¢153 million.

At this conversion, the Norwagian Kroner is higher than the U. S. Dollar.

Haugen's grossed-up salary is ¢203,233,766.67, while his taxable income is pegged at ¢244.2 million. The Norwegian also takes home an additional ¢41 million as allowance for rent and car.

After him comes Berit Elden, who banks home NOK 75,028 (¢114 million according to GT conversion) and a taxable income of ¢182.2 million. He also enjoys an additional ¢30.7 million as car and rent allowance.

Enters Truls Antressen at an income of NOK 73,871 or ¢112.6 million. His taxable income is ¢179.4 million and his car and rent allowance works up to ¢30.2 million.

Following him closely is the man who until recently was a co-signatory to GT cheques and former CTO Jarle Rekve. He makes a net amount of 73,815 Norwegian Krona (¢112.5 million according to GT's conversion). His full pay, however, is ¢179.3 million. He also enjoys an additional ¢30.2 million as car and rent allowance.

The NDC Minority in Parliament recently sought to extract answers from the Communications Minister, Professor Mike Ocquaye, on the issue without success.

The Minister told Parliament on that occasion that he was unaware of the details of the remuneration of the expats and would seek to update himself on it and later brief the House on the matter.

Below are full details of the salary of the rest of the Norwegian staff.

Names Net Amount Net Amount Grossed up Taxable
------ Given Converted car&rent 'allowa' Income
Bjorck Ake 54,289 82,790,725 22,281,526.67 131,689,160
Breivik Fritz 49,855 76,028,875 20,478,366.67 120,870,200
Brendoy Kjell M 55,604 84,796,100 22,816,293.33 134,897,760
Eide Heidi-Birgit 45,625 9,578,125 18,758,166.67 110,549,000
Forsberg Erik 46,248 70,583,100 19,026,160.00 112,156,960
Habjorg Arve E 64,246 97,975,150 26,330,706.67 155,984,240
Hareide Jon 52,416 76,943,400 21,519,840.00 127,119,040
Haugen Forde 100,443 153,160,325 41,046,753.33 244,280,520
Hodnekvan Ragnar 46,565 71,011,625 19,140,433.33 112,842,600
Haland Age 41,181 2,801,025 16,950,940.00 99,705,640
Karlberg John J 46,761 71,310,525 19,220,140.00 113,320,840
Knutsen Arvid 72,905 111,180,125 29,852,033.33 177,112,200
Lanka Jan Sture 60,000 91,500,000 24,604,000.00 145,624,000
Nygard Roar 43,379 66,152,975 17,844,793.33 105,068,760
Reijonen Pekka 61,611 93,956,775 25,259,140.00 149,554,840
Sionnesen Erik 60,445 92,178,625 24,784,966.67 146,709,800
Skagnaes Anita 34,173 52,113, 825 14,101,020.00 82,606,120
Wiberg Jan 57,178 87,196,450 23,456,386.67 138,738,320
Williams Martin 48,052 73,297,300 19,745,146.67 116,470,880

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