Posted on: www.dailyguideghana.com
By William Yaw Owusu
Wednesday, May 24, 2017
A leading member of the Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC), Dr Steve Manteaw, has claimed three Ghana Gas Company (GGC) helicopters are missing.
According to him, the government has already paid $150 million for three helicopters but they cannot be traced.
The gas company has not made any public statement about the status of the helicopters, but Dr Anthony Akoto Osei, Minister for Monitoring and Evaluation, has reportedly confirmed that Ghana Gas Company indeed purchased the helicopters.
"I have asked about the helicopters but there are no answers forthcoming,” Dr. Manteaw told Adom FM yesterday.
According to him, the actual cost of the Ghana Gas project, which started full operations in 2012, was still unknown, although the government had earmarked an initial $850 million for it.
He said the management of Ghana Gas at Atuabo in the Western Region even expressed surprise about the purchase of the helicopters since there was no helipad for the helicopters they were going to buy.
At the commencement of the project, Dr. Manteaw said he went to the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) to search for tax files of the project executors - Sinopec - but there was nothing to show either in Accra or Takoradi, the Western Regional capital.
According to him, the company was given tax concession by Ghana Gas, noting that that action is against the law since Parliament is the only body that can waive tax for foreign companies.
He said strangely, it was in 2016 that the Ministry of Finance brought the tax file demanding that Sinopec should be exempted from tax, saying as a result, PIAC was able to get the authorities to retrieve GH¢15 million as taxes from Sinopec Gas Company.
Dr. Manteaw said the government used additional loan facility secured from China to purchase the three aircraft after the original four had become ineffective and said once they could not be traced, those in-charge of the procurement should be questioned.
Dr Anthony Akoto Osei had also insisted that the total cost of the helicopters was a rip-off.
He said four out of seven helicopters were initially purchased for the project but they broke down.
He claimed that all the initial seven helicopters were bought for $100 million, noting that they were over-priced since each cost $8 million, but the erstwhile National Democratic Congress (NDC) government brought them in for $25 million each.
“The four could have just cost the nation $32 million and not $100 million…go to the Americas and we would get them for less instead of purchasing them at that expensive cost from China,” he retorted in an angry tone.
Explaining how the helicopters were procured, Dr Anthony Akoto Osei said Ghana acquired a loan from the Chinese Development Bank.
The four helicopters broke down under two years after they had been commissioned by former President John Mahama in September 2015.
The minister said the loan application was not presented to Parliament despite opposition from the then minority NPP in Parliament.
He pointed out that the new government can now hold its predecessor to greater accountability.
He vowed to get the former Energy Minister, Dr Kwabena Donkor, to appear before Parliament and answer questions about the project.
“Fortunately, the main characters in the Ghana Gas Project are still around and we can call them to come and clarify issues for us…I will demand in Parliament that they come and clarify issues on the award of contracts and others,” he added.