Duffuor Summoned. Over CP â‚¬94m Cash
THE MINISTER for Finance and Economic Planning, Dr. Kwabena Duffuor, has been summoned to appear before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament to indicate the level of his ministry's involvement in the payment of â‚¬94million to Construction Pioneers (CP) as settlement claim.
Dr. Duffuor, who was yesterday summoned by the Chairman of PAC, Albert Kan Dapaah, is also to answer queries relating to payment of â‚¬14,000,000 to CP as part payment of the construction firm's negotiated settlement claims of the â‚¬94,000,000, from the Government of Ghana (GoG) in a controversial matter that is still being pursued by Ghana at the international arbitration.
In March 2010, CP entered into a settlement agreement with the GoG for an amount of â‚¬94,000,000 for wrongful abrogation of contracts in 2003.
However, even before the agreement was concluded, former Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, Betty Mould-Iddrisu, had authorized the payment of â‚¬14,000,000 in 2009 as being part payment of the settlement claim of â‚¬94,000,000. Other payments were made in 2010.
At yesterday's sittings of the PAC, Mr. Kan-Dapaah said the Minister for Finance and Economic Planning would have to tell the Parliamentary Committee whether the payment of â‚¬14,000,000 had cabinet approval before it was effected.
'We would want to know whether the payment had proper authorization and if it had, why the letter written by the Attorney-General authorizing the payment was not copied to the presidency or the Chief of Staff,' Mr. Kan-Dapaah quizzed.
However, there has been more confirmation that at the time the settlement agreement was spearheaded by Betty Mould-Iddrisu, CP had invaded taxes amounting to 284 million Deutsch Marks and ¢52billion, which the then Internal Revenue Service (IRS) was pursuing.
Earlier, it was revealed to PAC that instead of supporting the IRS to retrieve the money, Mrs. Mould-Iddrisu allegedly waived all the taxes without parliamentary approval and okayed payment of the â‚¬94million to CP.
A scheduled officer at the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), Kwame Ofosuhene Appenteng, who computed the tax liability of CP at the time, yesterday confirmed the company had indeed waived taxes.
The tax liabilities, he reiterated, were computed in 2005 based on Bank of Ghana's (BoG's) payments to CP and interests on the company's delayed payments.
Mr. Appenteng stressed that as far as he was aware, CP did not clear its tax liabilities at the time the settlement agreement was reached.
According to him, CP had contested the figures through its tax consultants and indicated the taxes had had been waived by government.
'However, we did not agree because there was no parliamentary approval, waiving the taxes as stipulated under our laws and therefore as far as we were concerned, tax liability against CP had not been waived by parliament,' Mr. Appenteng stated.
George Blankson, the Commissioner General of GRA, later expressed similar sentiments, emphasising CP indeed had tax liabilities to clear.
According to him, nobody wrote to him to find out about the tax liabilities of CP before the settlement agreement was reached.
'The settlement agreement was only brought to my attention yesterday (Tuesday),' Mr. Blankson indicated.
Appearing before the PAC on the same issue with his team, Minister for Roads and Highways, Joe Gidisu, had a hectic time answering questions from members of the parliamentary committee.
Mr. Gidisu, whose ministry awarded the road contracts to CP, could not inform the committee whether the â‚¬94million to CP was a fair deal for Ghana.
'Mr. Minister, can you confidently say that you are comfortable with the money paid to CP and that Ghana was not shortchanged?' PAC Chairman Kan-Dapaah quizzed.
Parrying the question, Mr. Gidisu said, 'Mr. Chairman, so many factors were considered in coming out with the settlement agreement'.
He was however engaged in what could be described as political equalization, claiming the erstwhile New Patriotic Party (NPP) administration also paid some settlement claims to CP.
By Awudu Mahama