NPP MP tells Akufo-Addo to be transparent

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Tough-talking Kwame Andy Appiah-Kubi, representing Asante Akim North, has joined the chorus of voices, demanding the publication of the KPMG audit report concerning the agreement between the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) and Strategic Mobilization Limited (SML) which is being labelled as a retirement benefit for the President and his family.

This call for transparency gained significance as Bright Simons, Vice President for IMANI Africa, and Daniel Yaw Domelevo, former Auditor-General, intensified their criticism of the contentious contract.

 

While Simons, draws parallels between this contract and the controversial Agyapa deal, Domelevo questions the legality and professionalism of appointing KPMG for the audit.

Appiah-Kubi, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Member of Parliament (NPP), stresses the importance of making the report public for informed discussions, emphasizing that someone doesn’t need to request its release, as reports are meant to be accessible to interested parties.

“Whether there was a call or not to publish the report, reports are meant to be served on interested parties, it does not take somebody to call for the releases. If we are curious to know what is there, that is right.

“The call is appropriate, we spent money to produce the report, if for nothing at all for the education. It is important to publish. I am not aware that anybody is trying to shelve it. we must begin to interrogate the report,” he said on the Key Points on TV3 on Saturday, April 27.

The KPMG report revealed that no technical needs assessment preceded SML’s engagement, though it wasn’t legally required.

Isaac Adongo, Ranking Member of the Finance Committee of Parliament, has urged President Akufo-Addo, to provide Parliament with a copy of the report to facilitate further investigation.

President Akufo-Addo received the report, highlighting the absence of a technical needs assessment before engaging SML and partial delivery of service requirements. However, discrepancies arise regarding the total fees paid under the contract.

Member of Parliament for Bolgatanga, Isaac Adongo, has also asked President Akufo-Addo to furnish the house with a copy of the audit firm, KPMG’s report on the deal.

President Akufo-Addo has received the final report from the auditing firm KPMG about the GRA-SML deal.

The firm, among other findings, stated that no technical needs assessment was done before the engagement of SML and that SML, partially delivered on the service requirements.

But the Bolgatanga Central legislator implored the President to lay a copy of the report before Parliament when the house resumes from recess.

In a statement issued on Friday, April 26, Mr Adongo, maintained that this would help the Finance Committee in its investigation of the deal.

“At this moment, I respectfully request that Parliament be furnished with a copy of the KPMG report to aid the Finance Committee’s investigation.

“It strikes me as unusual that the report only contains mild suggestions and recommendations despite the abundance of information available to the public regarding the SML arrangement.

“Consequently, we must scrutinise the comprehensiveness of their mandate, including their TOR, methodology, and approach.”

“Our primary objective is to expose the beneficial owners of this group and utilise Parliament’s authority to recover the funds that have been paid due to this illegality,” he stated.

“I trust that the President understands that my Parliamentary scrutiny request is founded on section 33 of the PFM Act, which mandates that Parliament authorise contracts with multi-year obligations in the first instance.”

“For the unsuspecting public, this recent development further reinforces the belief amongst many discerning people of Ghana, that Bawumia and his associates are simply spearheading a corruption-infested digitalisation strategy steeped in delusions and shrewdness.

“Without equivocation, this government’s touted mantra of digitalisation is merely a scheme, a political propaganda of chicanery deployed to hoodwink and exploit the people of Ghana for their self-serving benefit,” an excerpt of his statement said.

Ransford Gyampo, a Professor at the University of Ghana, commended the President for addressing the report, but urged the release of the entire document for full transparency.

The growing clamour for transparency, underscores the need for accountability in public contracts and the scrutiny of auditing processes to ensure the proper utilization of public funds.

Bright Simons, giving a detailed presentation on the job expectation of SML on Joy FM’s Newsfile, he said the SML task was expanded to include minerals and petroleum, even though it was a questionable contract.

“We are completely certain that when you try to expand this SML service to cover the minerals and petroleum it was simply Agyapa [deal] in suit and tie.

“When Agyapa failed, somebody suggested that if we cannot get the percentage of the royalties that we wanted from every ounce of gold sold in Ghana, then we will do even more, we will add the oil as well and we will create a mechanism to get a certain percentage out of that,” he said on Saturday, April 27.

Mr Simons, questioned the feasibility of accurately determining oil production and calculating royalties, particularly in light of concerns about the reliability of data provided by oil companies.

He criticised GRA’s reliance on mechanisms to establish royalty payments, highlighting the inherent challenges associated with monitoring and regulating the extraction and sale of petroleum.

“It doesn’t make any sense to try and claim that because the Tullow and other companies are lying about the oil produced, you will use some mechanism to try and establish that.

“And for every barrel of oil produced, you will then be entitled to a percentage. What logic is that?” he quizzed.

President Akufo-Addo had mandated KPMG to audit the contract between the two entities on January 2, 2024.

In response to the audit report submission, a press statement from the Presidency on April 24, stated, “the total fees paid under the contracts from 2018 to the date of suspension amount to GH¢1,061,054,778.”

SML refuted and contested the assertion that the company was paid GH¢1,061,054,778. Addressing the contract, its suspension, and the ensuing audit, the former Auditor-General expressed grave concerns, suggesting that each aspect reeks of illegality, corruption, and unprofessional behaviour.

Domelevo contends that appointing KPMG for the audit violates procurement regulations and suggests a conflict of interest due to the firm’s ongoing contracts with GRA and the Ministry of Finance.

He advocates for utilizing existing state institutions like the Office of the Special Prosecutor for such audits.

 Mr Domelevo, speaking on Citi FM, said commissioning KPMG to conduct the audit, violated procurement regulations and hinted at a conflict of interest since KPMG maintains ongoing contracts with both the Ghana Revenue Authority and the Ministry of Finance.

“I don’t see why KPMG accepted to do the audit because first and foremost, KPMG provides services to GRA and MOF [the Ministry of Finance] so they are conflicting but let’s put that aside because it is not a big deal.

“KPMG cannot accept an illegal contract from the government. The contract under which KPMG was selected to go and provide the service should have been a competitive selection process,” Mr Domelevo emphasized.

He further elaborated, “If the KPMG contract did not go through the public procurement process, that is either through competitive tendering or approval from the Public Procurement Board, then they have entered into an illegal contract and that is illegal and unprofessional.”

The former Auditor-General stressed the necessity of understanding how KPMG was chosen, suggesting that certain state agencies could have undertaken the task.

Mr Domelevo cited Article 187, Clause 8 of the 1992 Constitution, which provides the President, on advice from the Council of State, the authority to request the Auditor General to conduct specific audits in the national interest.

He questioned why this option wasn’t pursued.

In January, the former Auditor-General advised President Akufo-Addo to utilize existing state institutions to audit the GRA-SML deal saying this would have saved the public purse rather than delegating the task to another institution to undertake such an important audit.

According to him, the Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP) was established solely to investigate such matters; therefore, they should be allowed to function without any interference.

“If the President is interested in an audit to be done, Article 187(8) mandates the President on advice from the Council of State to request the auditor general to do such an audit, adding “Again the issue has been reported already to the OSP, so he sits with the case. I don’t know why we will not allow the OSP to do the audit instead of engaging KPMG to do what state institutions are mandated to do.

“I have also heard that parliament has requested or authorized the finance committee to do this audit. Let me say that, I think that as much as we are worried about corruption.

“We must also be worried about the waste of public resources. These are all a waste of public resources.

“We have institutions given this mandate to protect the public purse. We should use them instead of engaging KPMG,” he said on Joy FM’s Midday News.

He was reacting to a January 2 release in which the President asked KPMG to conduct a two-week audit of the contract.

Mr Domelevo, explained that the decision to delegate the investigation to KPMG creates the impression that the private audit firms are considered “superhuman beings.”

On the back of this, he stressed that “Parliament and the office of the President should back off and allow the Office of the Special Prosecutor to do its work. “

“Most of the issues have already been reported by Manasseh and the team, they just have to verify it and if confirmed then they take the necessary action and save us the additional use of public funds in a way that adds no value,” he added.

theheraldghana.com

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