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16.11.2005 General News

A Costly Arbitration - Per Diem For Ministers

By Palavar
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Accra, Nov 16 (Palavar) -- Today, we have laid hands on two documents that will shock Ghanaians. We have published the documents in full, because it exposes the extravagance, the incompetence and the feeling of insecurity of the NPP Government and its officials all at one go. Document I Document I Document II The documents in question are a Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning approval letter No.A/1189/2005 dated 20th October 2005 signed by Dr. A. Akoto-Osei, Deputy Minister, for a ten-member Government delegation to travel to London for an arbitration hearing with Construction Pioneers (CP), and an application No. AF.239/236/03 dated 28th October 2005 signed by Kwesi Frakona, Public Relations Officer for the Ministry of Justice for UK entry visas for the Attorney General, Hon. J. Ayikoi Otoo and his wife Mrs. Patricia Hanson-Mettle Otoo. Per Diem Exposed The documents reveal the true nature of per diem paid to NPP Ministers and officials on their travel abroad, and put the lie to the figures put out by the Auditor-General recently as the per diem paid to the President and his Mini! sters and officials.

The true amount of the per diem has been craftily disguised in the approval letter by splitting it between an accountable imprest for hotel accommodation and abated per diem, and treating the two as separate items. But per diem, in its true meaning, covers accommodation, feeding, ground travel and transport, and incidentals. Thus to get the true per diem paid to the travelling officials, and using the Attorney General's figures for the calculations, the actual per diem paid to him is as follows: A Costly Arbitration The two arbitrations with the Construction Pioneers (CP) for which the expenditure of US$46, 986.21 is being incurred, represent the latest in a long series of arbitrations, some held in London and others in Ghana, all of which the Ghana Government has lost. They arise out of the NPP Government's abrogation of contracts validly entered into between the NDC Government and the Company or the NPP Government's refusal to pay for jobs done by CP and in one case a disputed payment which had been settled by arbitration and which the Government of Ghana was bound to pay.

For this arbitration, both the Attorney General and the Deputy Attorney General were on the delegation to London.

Virtually every officer at every level in the Civil Division chain at the Attorney General's Department except at the Principal level, was on the delegation. They are the Acting Solicitor-General, a Senior State Attorney and an Assistant State Attorney. For this one arbitration therefore, 5 state lawyers travelled from Ghana to London.

This was additional to the firm of lawyers that the Govern! ment has retained from New York “ Messrs Debevoise and Plimpton LLP “ to represent it in the arbitration in London. The public has not been told how much has been paid or is to be paid this firm by way of retainership fees. a) Per diem allowance @ US$ 152.95 for 5 days abated by S! =US$509.83 b) Per diem allowance @US$152.95 for 2 days travelling time =US$305.90 c) Accountable Imprest for hotel accommodation @ US$250.00 per night for 5 nights =US$1,250.00 d) Incidental Expenses @ US$500.00 =US$500.00 e) Total for 5 days =US$2,565.73 f) Actual per diem = US$2,565.73 ÷5 days =US$513.15