The Minority New Patriotic Party in Parliament yesterday described the judgment debt payment to Construction Pioneers (CP) as good money paid out free through the conspiracy of a cabal.
The minority said the ?94million doled out to CP stunk to the high heavens and called for investigations.
At a press conference, the group stated that its action was to, as it put it, disembowel the Government of Ghana and CP saga so the good people of Ghana would follow sequentially what transpired.
Dwelling on three contracts- the Biriwa-Takoradi Road Project (BTRP), the Assin Praso-Yamoransa Road Project and the Akim Oda Area Roads contracts, it observed that they were the outcome of an agreement entered between the CP and the Ministry of Roads and Transport on December 5, 1996, a couple of days before the presidential and parliamentary elections of 1996.
The projects, it explained, were awarded to CP as part of a settlement of disputes which had arisen out of earlier contracts awarded to the same firm.
The Minority pointed out that the Ghana Highway Authority (GHA) discovered that CP had loaded or padded the rates in the negotiated contract regarding the Biriwa-Takoradi Road Project awarded in 1996.
This project involved the construction of an asphaltic concrete overlay of the aforementioned road. The padding increased the contract price by 44 million Deutsche Mark.
?It later surfaced that the DM44 million represented a so-called loss of profit to CP in respect of the uncommenced Yamoransa-Assin Praso and the Akim Oda Area Roads Project,? it disclosed, adding that this was what Dr. Ato Quarshie, the then sector minister, signed.
When CP?s attention was drawn to this and upon the insistence of the GHA, it was decided that the padded rates be unloaded from the contract price.
In 2001, another instance of fraud was noted in the payments regarding the BTRP, the Minority in Parliament stated, explaining, ?Clearly, therefore, the padded rates or loaded amounts which CP had promised to unload were after all not unloaded!?
In mid-2001, it stated, government suspended payments for works done under the BTRP contract when it surfaced that the padded rates were the ones captured in the payment schedule agreement, adding that ?works on the Assin-Praso-Yamoransa Project as well as the Akim Oda Area Roads Projects never commenced?.
Following a litigation that arose in the case, the Minority recalled, CP appealed against an Accra High Court?s revocation order, adding that the appeal was still pending. This notwithstanding, it explained, the Arbitral Tribunal went ahead with an arbitration and made its first award on December 22, 2003, rejecting Ghana?s jurisdictional objection.
On November 7, 2007, the Minority said, CP wrote to the government of Ghana proposing an overall settlement between them in which it claimed ?153, 546 million as at November 30, 2007. CP however insisted it was not keen on pursuing its total claims and called for mediation.
CP, the Minority explained, wrote later to government and proposed that it would accept ?94 million in full as final settlement of all outstanding matters.
The Minority in Parliament asked whether it made any legal or financial sense to agree to settle and pay ?94million to CP when government had insisted and CP had conceded to loaded rates.
The Minority took exception to the other projects, pointing out for instance that the negotiations in respect of such capital intensive negotiated contracts between CP and the Ministry of Roads and Transport, which were done in 1996, were poorly conducted as GHA was not involved in the outset.
The position of government, it added, was that CP had evaded tax and against the fact that only Parliament waived or varied tax, it stood to reason that CP should pay tax for any work done in the country.
The Minority demanded that CP tell Ghanaians who granted the tax exemption. ?Was it the then Minister, Dr. Ato Quarshie who they had the negotiations with?? it asked.
Ghana, it insisted, had been shortchanged to the tune of ?94 million, which is over GH?225 million or ?2.25 trillion.
It asked President Mills to immediately authorize the appropriate agencies to probe the payment.