Government saddled with GHC679.5m Judgement Debt – Finance Minister

Government is reportedly initiating new guidelines to insulate itself from payments of judgement debts arising from botched contracts.

This will involve inclusion of certain wordings in contracts that would indemnify it from judgment debts.

Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Attah, disclosed this in Parliament Friday when responding to how much government has paid in judgment debt since it assumed power.

He disclosed that the state is currently saddled with GH¢679.5 million judgement debt.

According to him, outstanding judgement debts the National Democratic Congress (NDC) government bequeathed to the Akufo-Addo government totalled GH¢482.4 million.

He indicated that a number of cases have been pending in court out of which GH¢197.1 million has crystallized bringing the total amount of judgement to GH¢679.5 million.

Mr. Ofori Atta said government continues to pay millions of cedis in judgement to individuals and companies due to court orders for breaches of contracts.

He said, “Government’s approach is to renegotiate most of these judgement debts and ensure we make as much savings as possible and continue to protect the public purse.”

“In one instance we managed to save the taxpayer GH¢90 million through negotiations. In another instance, we negotiated a savings of GH¢130 million on a claim of over GH¢180 million.”

“In total, we have had no choice but to pay 42% of the outstanding, which is approximately GH¢94 million yearly, due to the garnisheeing of our accounts and the renegotiations held.”

He stated that government has adopted a policy to negotiate with beneficiaries to protect the public purse and obtain value for money.

These, he said, include putting in certain wordings in contracts to indemnify government and negotiating with claimants to avoid expensive court cases and judgement debts and negotiating with applicants post-judgement.

Former deputy finance minister, Cassiel Ato Forson, however, contradicted the Finance Ministers and indicated government has paid persons not deserving of judgement debt.

According to him, even Special Prosecutor Martin Amidu has been paid judgement for supposedly wrongful dismissal under the Atta-Mills administration and then Bankswitch and McDan.

The NDC, he said, negotiated with Bankswitch it would not pay GH¢80 million as interest on a judgement and the parties agreed as such.

“McDan does not qualify to be paid judgement debt because it is not a judgement and we don’t know anything about it. That is why we are calling for further and better particulars.”

“We also dispute we left about GH¢200 million cedi judgment debt. We did not leave that kind of amount as judgement debt,” he stated.

Ato Forson challenged the Finance Minister to provide the breakdown of the numbers indicating who the claimants are and the amounts they were paid.