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07.06.2004 General News

Controversy Over $300m Loan Refuses To Die

By Heritage

After what seemed like a perfect 'silence breaker' by Finance Minister Yaw Osafo Maafo with his press conference Thursday, which was aimed at putting to rest the controversy surrounding the loan agreement between the Government of Ghana and the CNT Construction Investment Limited (CNTCI), a section of the public still argue that Government has failed to address some pertinent issues surrounding the international financial transaction.

Among the major issues that are refusing to die after the Minister's highly anticipated encounter with the media include the apparent inconsistencies in the address and telephone numbers of the CNTCI, the shareholding structure and the composition of the company.

While the minister told the media that CNTCI has explained that there was an error in the number for the premises address that they provided, they consistently received mail because the postcode pertaining to their premises was valid; critics argue that the explanation was not convincing.

Mr. Ato Ahwoi, a leading member of the opposition NDC who phoned in to the Front Page programme on Joy FM Friday questioned what address would be used in future, should the NPP leave office and a new government takes over governance.

Quoting a section of the agreement, which stated that money will be disbursed as and when invoices are submitted, Mr. Ahwoi asked what address would be used for such transactions.

Mr. Ahwoi further questioned how a company with a stated capital of £200,000 could provide the country with a loan of $300million and expressed doubt about the possibility of such a transaction.

Reacting to the Finance Minister's explanation to a question on the shareholding structure of the company, Mr. Ahwoi, said CNTCI was not a Public Company but a Private Limited Liability company and its shares could not be floated daily, contrary to Mr. Maafo's explanation that the company was floating shares every day and this could affect its share holding structure.

Earlier on Thursday Mr. Moses Asaga, NDC ranking member on the Parliamentary Committee on Finance, told Choice FM that he was also not satisfied with the explanations offered by the minister, considering the counter revelations and questions that came up at the media encounter.

He proposed that, with doubts still hanging over the address and shareholding structure of the transaction, a small committee composed of members of government and NDC should be set up to critically re-examine the issues at stake.

Mr. Asaga was convinced that there was still the need for more clarification and testimony on China Railway Construction Corporation and that the minority did a good job on the technical aspects of the document presented before the committee. He insisted that it was the responsibility of government and those who negotiated the loan to have done the proper work.

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