Good morning distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen and thank you for accepting our invitation to be part of this press conference.
It would be recalled that this current administration introduced an amendment to the Minerals Income Investment Fund Act, 2018 (Act 978) in July this year, to enable the Fund create Special Purpose Vehicles to manage and invest our mineral royalties without limitations. Unfortunately, the Fund set up, called Agyapa Royalties, was incorporated in Jersey, a tax haven in the United Kingdom.
State of Affairs
As our party reflect on the unfolded events with pain, we doff our hat to the 18-member alliance of civil society organizations for the relentless campaign they mounted on the lack of transparency and absence of public oversight, and the haste with which the government was proceeding to implement the arrangement. We would also like to commend the minority in Parliament for boycotting the amendment and approval processes. We believe their action was in the national interest. The directive from the Special Prosecutor for the suspension of the planned Initial Public Offer of the transaction on the London Stock Exchange, for a corruption risk assessment, and the subsequent release of the report deserves commendation.
The Finance Minister Must Resign
We are extremely worried that despite the damning findings made against the Finance Minister by the Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP), the Minister has not shown any regret and respect to the good people of Ghana by resigning from his position.
According to the Special Prosecutor, the agreements submitted to parliament by the Finance Minister, surrenders “the sovereignty of Ghana over its gold mineral resources in perpetuity” and this also “contravenes the sovereignty of the people of Ghana under Article 1 and for whose welfare the powers of the government are to be exercised”.
The OSP further states that there was no basis for arriving at the valuation of all mineral resources at the agreed price of 1Billion US Dollars. “The one billion dollars (the Royal Value) has not been demonstrated to be based on any rational evaluation of the sovereign gold resources under the agreements held in trust for and on behalf of the chiefs and people of Ghana as a patrimony for generations unborn.”
Mr. Martin Amidu concludes that “…In an analysis of the risk of corruption, and anti-corruption assessment, this is a fundamental issue of individual interest, greed, lack of ethicality and morality in public office, and not simply of conflict of interest merely. This opaque arrangement in the contract negotiation process not arising out of the Public Procurement Authority approval is what made the analysis of the risk of corruption and anti-corruption assessment conclude that the process of the selection of the Transaction Advisor(s) disclosed a reasonable suspicion of bid-rigging and corruption activity including the potential for illicit financial flows and money laundering in the arrangement of how the fees payable to Databank of Ghana as the decoy which was not approved under the Public Procurement Authority Act, 2003 (Act 663 as amended) are to be made.”
The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development states that: “Conflict of interest occurs when an individual or a corporation (either private or governmental) is in a position to exploit his or their own professional or official capacity in some way for personal or corporate benefit”. Whereas on corruption, the World Bank has provided a very succinct definition: “the abuse of public office for private gain”.
The Finance Minister’s purported response to the corruption conclusion of the OSP is completely bogus. The fact is that, Hon. Ken Ofori-Atta is still a shareholder of Databank, and as such, he is the beneficial owner of the illegal proceeds from the Agyapa deal. He confirmed same to the President in a response memo – that he is the co-founder of Databank. Note that Mr. Ofori-Atta’s resignation from all Boards and as Executive Board Chairman of Databank does not mean he has resigned as shareholder as well.
It is important for us to establish that Conflict of Interest and Corruption are inextricably intertwined like conjoined twins. And from the report, it is evident that the Finance Minister exploited and abused his position for private gain.
Beyond this, the Akuffo-Addo led administration has been paralyzed by corruption scandals, many of which have been swept under the carpet.
We recall with agony, the following controversial and problematic transactions that have involved Mr. Ken Ofori-Atta: the Ghc1.5 billion oil money unaccounted for; the PDS scandal which attempted to hand over billions of assets of ECG to family and friends, which eventually made Ghana lose over 190million US Dollars in grant from the US government; the collapse of local businesses; the non-payment of local contractors leading to job losses; excessive borrowing of over Ghc150billion in four years with nothing to show for it and cooking rice for Ghc54million during the covid19 lockdown.
The Hon. Ken Ofori-Atta needs to take a long look in the mirror. For the good of our country, our democracy, our future and his family’s reputation, he must do what honourable men do, he needs to go home now.
Why is the President Keeping the Finance Minister at Post?
We were dazed, devastated and speechless when we read the Press Release from the Jubilee House which stated that “the President has directed the Finance Minister to resubmit the Agyapa agreement to Parliament for the approval process to start all over again”. What is the basis for this decision by the President? The referral of the nebulous Agyapa deal to Parliament by the President demonstrates a questionable commitment to pursue the national interest. It is also clear the President is allowing himself to be misled by the Finance Minister to transfer our mineral royalties into private hands under the pretext of creating value for our natural resources.
It is shocking how the President has disregarded all the alleged violations of procurement rules, cronyism, conflict of interest, nepotism and bid-rigging. The Office of the President and the Executive approvals have been used to provide a semblance of legitimacy to a fraudulent deal found to be inconsistent with the national interest.
The President must not give us any impression to believe that, he is compromised by family ties in dismissing the Finance Minister. He must not hide behind the smokescreen of Parliament to divert attention from this stinky Agyapa deal. The oath he swore to defend the constitution and the best interest of Ghana must be his top priority.
If the Finance Minister refuses to resign, the President must revoke his appointment.
Given these recent corrupt happenings, our question is, does the Akufo-Addo administration and the trusted man Ken Ofori-Atta have the moral right to collapse businesses of Ghanaian entrepreneurs? Given the PDS, Agyapa, Galamsey and particularly the huge conflict of interest rot where the key shareholder in Databank is also the Minister of Finance and yet that company has earned hefty fees from all government domestic and international fundraising, even the issues associated with Menzgold or DKM are minor in comparison. How can this administration call anyone in Ghana corrupt?
A Call for Action
Our expectation was for the Office of the Special Prosecutor to confirm the fraudulent enterprise of the governing party with science, data and concrete evidence, and the OSP has just done that. We salute Mr. Martin Amidu for his sense of patriotism and dedication to the true course of resisting oppressive regimes.
Today, many Ghanaians distrust politicians and may eventually give up on the political system and seek answers elsewhere. For how long must we look on whiles they continue to destroy, create, loot and share among themselves and their families, while we stand aside and look? We must emancipate ourselves from this political thievery. We need to save our country from elite capture by kicking out this family and friends government and instead, vote for the PPP as the most credible alternative to fight corruption.
Free SHS Policy
Ordinarily, no one will object or speak against the Free SHS policy. However, we are distressed and it is awfully disheartening that the Free SHS policy is being used as camouflage to cajole the masses, while a small group of people continue to steal from the blind side of Ghanaians. Why must everything start and end with Free SHS when the real issues are not tackled? Why must citizens be given only three years of Free SHS, while the families and friends of this NPP government enjoy in perpetuity?
Free SHS cannot be used as the conduit to borrow billions of cedis with nothing to show for it. We cannot be FOOLED further by any Free SHS promise. We are convinced that Change Is Coming once again, and soon, the scales will drop off the eyes of the voting populace as they offer the President, who by all intents and purposes is in concert with Hon. Ken Ofori-Atta to engage in State capture, a one term befitting retirement.
Proposal for Heritage Projects
For the avoidance of doubt, the Agyapa deal is not the only vehicle by which we can maximize the benefits of our mineral royalties. We have proposed the establishment of Heritage Projects to be financed or invested into by the Minerals Income Investment Fund (MIIF) so that the royalties are invested here in Ghana, paid for in Ghana and the dividends reimbursed here in Ghana to create more value. One of such heritage projects as highlighted in the PPP policy statement will be the construction of inter-regional highways (including the completion of the 18N roads) and building underground rail system with the Minerals Income Investment Fund receipts.
These roads will be tolled to recoup the investment. There is no need to give our royalties to a foreign company through some complex monetization deal, and turn around to go to the capital market to borrow at expensive interest rates for development and even sometimes, surreptitiously divert these funds as consumption expenditure. The alarming part of this agreement is that, there is no guarantee that the Agyapa vehicle will give us the dividends we seek.
Practical Approach in Fighting Corruption
As a party, we are committed to reforming the 1992 constitution by removing Ministers from Parliament, electing Metropolitan Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs), making assets declaration public and creating the Office of the Independent Prosecutor to root out government corruption. We will implement the Right to Information Law with a sense of urgency and without charging citizens any fees, to bring probity, transparency and accountability in government.
Join us in believing that, we can stop corruption and move Ghana forward, by voting to constrain the absolute powers of the executive arm of government to prevent absolute power from corrupting absolutely. By far, we are the only political party, bold enough to talk about reviewing aspects of the 1992 Constitution that perpetuates a winner-takes-all government with excessive executive and discretionary powers; where little or no accountability prevails, and setting the stage for corruption to thrive. We believe that we desperately need to make a generational choice to reform our political system, so our country can work again.
Once again, we thank the Office of the Special Prosecutor for expeditiously upholding the law and the very many well-meaning Ghanaians who spoke up against this bizarre Agyapa deal. We recognize the Attorney-General’s office for sounding the alarm bell that the deal was unconscionable and inconsistent with the national interest. The PPP will empower the AG’s office the more by separating that office from the Minister of Justice and provide it with adequate resources to fight political corruption.
The Progressive People’s Party assures the people of Ghana that it will remain resolute in its quest to deepen the democratic credentials of Ghana, and that it will not shy away from any actions that will ensure that success.
Let us watch, pray, and resist family and friends rule in all its forms.
Thank you for your attention.