Posted on: www.dailyguideghana.com
By William Yaw Owusu
Friday February 02, 2018
Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta is heading to court to seek proper interpretation of the ruling given last year by the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) in the never-ending $2.5 billion bond saga.
According to the Ministry of Information, CHRAJ’s decision to look into issues that were not part of those brought against the minister by opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) activist, Brogya Gyenfi, is giving the opposition party the ‘leeway’ to create all kinds of ‘mischief.’
After absolving Mr Ofori-Atta from the main allegations leveled against him, CHRAJ went about fishing for additional information which is not within its mandate.
The minority NDC held a news conference in parliament on Wednesday, calling for the resignation of the finance minister because it said CHRAJ supposedly made adverse findings against him and gave President Akufo-Addo 14 working days to fire him or they would invoke a motion of censorship in accordance with Article 82 of the Constitution, to remove him from office.
However, Information Minister Mustapha Abdul Hamid, flanked by two of his deputies - Kojo Oppong-Nkrumah and Perry Curtis Okudzeto - told journalists in Accra yesterday that the issues being raised by the NDC are ‘over-flogged,’ ‘rehashed’ and ‘discredited,’ and added that a legal interpretation was going to cure the mischief once and for all.
“We recognize that they are determined to keep these matters burning for as long as it takes, with the hope that they may just be able to scoop whatever political advantage that they can get from it,” the information minister noted.
“We also believe that no matter how long a log stays in the water, it does not become a crocodile.”
Mr Hamid said that the NDC activists, with support from the party’s machinery, had made specific allegations that the minister, by the issuance of the bond, put himself in a conflict of interest situation and that he and his friends had benefited from the process.
But CHRAJ, on page 136 paragraph 20 and 21 of its report, had established that the claim was baseless and without merit.
“As players in a democracy, we expected that they would take the CHRAJ ruling in their stride and move on. But it seems that the minority is determined to keep this matter going, even if for nuisance purposes and in the process, they keep shifting the goal post,” Mr Hamid observed.
The minister said that guidelines for the issuance of bonds are issued by the Bank of Ghana and not the ministry of finance, and that the guidelines had been existing since 2015 when the NDC was in office.
“CHRAJ determined that none of the companies in which Ken Ofori-Atta has interest benefitted or participated in the bond issuance.
“We understand the psychological effect they hope to attain by constantly assailing Ken Ofori-Atta. We understand the discomfort that the NDC feels, with the great work that has been done in re-ordering the messy economic fundamentals that the NDC bequeathed to us. They have lost the argument on the proper management of the economy and therefore they must attack the architects of this great work,” the information minister stressed.
He pointed out that Ghana did not lose anything from the issuance of the bond, but rather the country gained immensely, saying, “It enabled us to re-profile our debt and reduce roll-over pressure that saved over GH¢600 million in interest payments on our debts weekly.”
Travesty Of Justice
He challenged CHRAJ’s assertion that the finance minister had failed to indicate Data Bank in his Assets Declaration, which the NDC is currently leaning on.
“I have seen Ken Ofori-Atta’s Assets Declaration Form, and I wish to say that Data Bank was declared as an institution in which he holds shares,” Mr Hamid claimed.
According to him, “CHRAJ’s refusal to call Ken Ofori-Atta to explain this item on his Assets Declaration Form was a travesty of justice and fails the test of natural justice.”
The minister further said that CHRAJ went beyond the matter of conflict of interest to make pronouncements on matters that it was not seized with the capacity to make, stating, “The subject, per the Securities Industry Act (Act 929), is reserved for Securities Exchange Commission (SEC).
“We find that it is these extraneous matters which CHRAJ commented on, that have become the ammunition with which the NDC has started a new round of attacks.”
Answering questions, Kojo Oppong-Nkrumah said it was only CHRAJ that can explain its motivation to go into extraneous matters in the bond saga; and the minister of finance was determined to set the records straight.