More heads must roll over ‘embarrassing’ AMERI renegotiation – Edward Bawa
Dismissed Energy Minister, Boakye Agyarko, must not be the only person to take the fall for a shambolic power purchase deal, Edward Bawa, a member of Parliament’s Mines and Energy Committee, has urged the President.
Mr Bawa says the events leading to the submission of an Executive order approving the revised Ameri deal for Parliament show other persons at the Presidency contributed to the poorly negotiated deal that evaded the scrutiny of Cabinet.
The Member of Parliament for Bongo was commenting on the dismissal of Boakye Agyarko from the Energy Ministry, Monday.
President Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo relieved Mr Agyarko, touted as an expert in energy matters, over the controversial renegotiated AMERI deal that has received a backlash since details reached other energy experts.
The Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP), an energy think tank, has said the badly renegotiated deal will not be in the interest of the country, pointing out that it will cost the country, over $937.5 million.
Mr Bawa’s party, the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), has been a fierce voice against the Novation of Build Own Operate Transfer (BOOT) Agreement between Ghana and AMERI.
“[Boakye Agyarko] is very low on the food chain. If you go and submit a document to a superior body for approval the moment you submit that document to the superior body…[it] becomes the property of that superior entity. In this case, the moment Boakye Agyarko gave out that document to the Presidency it became the property of the Presidency.
“So whatever decision that was going to be taken it must also fall squarely on the lap of the Presidency. The Presidency in own wisdom…decided to avoid the scrutiny of Cabinet and gave an Executive approval, which meant that it has equally seen the provision in the contract and, therefore, whatever fallout that we are having today the Presidency should be complicit in this, and more especially, the Executive Secretary who signed the Executive approval letter that was brought to Parliament…We should see more heads rolling,” Edward Bawa explained on current affairs programme, PM Express, on Monday evening.
A Ranking Member on the Mines and Energy Committee also last week raised questions with the Executive order given to the deal.
Adam Mutawakilu suggested that if the deal was not approved by Cabinet, particularly, the Finance Minister and Attorney-General, it meant that proper scrutiny was not done.
“I believe that it is because of the Executive approval that they couldn’t even scrutinise the document,” he had said, adding “if this thing was given to Cabinet, the Minister of Finance would have analysed the financial aspect of it; Attorney-General would have analysed the legal opinions.”
The deal was withdrawn from Parliament last week in the heat of the controversy.
Controversy from birth: Background of Ameri deal
The $510 million Ameri deal was signed between the John Mahama-led government in 2015 at a time when the country was reeling under a heavy power paralysis. The deal was to shore up Ghana’s power supply and to help solve what became known as the return of “dumsor”- power outages.
However, the deal triggered a well of controversy with civil society groups including IMANI, ACEP raising issues about the cost of the power plant.
According to IMANI, the deal had been inflated by over $150 million and demanded that government abrogate the deal.
Vice President of IMANI Kofi Bentil said the then government officials paid a whopping $150 million to a middleman for little or no job done.
But officials of the Mahama led government were adamant in the face of criticism.
Deputy Power Minister at the time John Jinapor justified the agreement saying, the $510 million was for a period of five years which is not the same as paying for a product on a shelf.
The then opposition New Patriotic Party was not left out of the controversy, accusing the Mahama led the administration of price inflation.
It promised to review the agreement if it won power and shortly after it did, the Akufo-Addo led government quickly set up a 17-member committee led by Philip Addison, a lawyer, to investigate the details of the agreement.
The committee among other issues advised the government to review the agreement with Ameri company.