Ranking Member on Parliament’s Energy Committee, John Jinapor, has blamed former Minister of Energy, under President Akufo-Addo’s first term, for causing a loss of $170million to the state.
Mr Jinapor was speaking in an interview with JoyNews’ Joseph Opoku Gakpo on the award of US$170 million in damages to Ghana Power Generation Company (GPGC) by a Commercial Court in London.
The Court in London instructed government of Ghana to pay the whopping US$170 million in damages to the claimants for failing to meet set deadlines in contesting alleged unlawful termination of contract between the two parties.
According to Mr John Jinapor, government did not plan effectively to defend its decision to terminate the contract.
“The government didn’t take the matter seriously. First of all, I hold the view that it was wrong to have terminated the agreement the way and manner in which this government went about it.
“Clearly we could have saved more than US$150 million if this government had listened to good counsel. But the Minister decided that he would cancel it unilaterally and today, the state of Ghana is asked to pay about US$170 million. That is a whopping amount and it is a colossal amount.” he said.
In January, a London-seated UNCITRAL tribunal issued its final award, ordering the government of Ghana, to pay a contractually defined “early termination payment” of more than US$134.3 million plus interest and costs.
Government of Ghana, under the English Law had 28 days to bring a challenge to the award but three days before the expiry of that deadline, the government’s solicitors, Omnia Strategy, applied to the court for a 56-day extension.
They pleaded that bureaucratic processes in preparing the challenge delayed because of national elections in the country and key members of the Attorney General’s office, had contracted Covid-19.
The court agreed to extend the deadline to March 8, but the government, now represented by Volterra Fietta, submitted the challenge to the claims by GPGC, on April 1.
But the Commercial Court declined to admit the challenge to the award since Ghana’s State Attorneys, together with Godfred Yeboah Dame, who took over from former Attorney General, Gloria Afua Akufo, unduly delayed.
Reading the ruling, Mr Justice Butcher said government of Ghana’s grounds for challenging the award were “intrinsically weak” and failed to explain how the Covid-19 pandemic affected “particular people or particular processes” which resulted in the delay.
Mr Jinapor, who is also MP for Yapei-Kusawgu, agreed with the court’s order. He noted that the delay in setting up a new team cannot be a strong basis to request an extension, after an earlier request for extension had been granted.
“The court clearly says they are not tenable. The court insisted Ghana is Ghana and it is a sovereign nation. It is like a company. If a company is running, it must run in perpetuity.
“You cannot say that because you are changing management, it got you not to do that. Bear in mind that if you read the story, we earlier on applied for some extension which was granted. But we failed to act within that extension. What made us ask for that extension and why did we fail? Clearly government didn’t handle the case properly,” he explained.
The Ranking Member on Parliament’s Energy Committee has also suggested a set of guidelines that should be employed when terminating contracts between the state and other institutions.
He advised that Parliament should be consulted before such contracts are terminated.
“We must learn some lessons from it. We can’t just throw the tax payers monies away when we could have used this money for something important.
“There should be proper guidelines and proper ways of terminating contracts. No Minister should get up on his own accord and decide that he wants to terminate contracts. When you are terminating such contracts, you must come back to Parliament and brief it. It is something that I think Parliament should take up seriously and when you want to terminate that contract, it is only proper for the people’s representatives are at least informed prior to the termination of that contract,” he stated.