Series of confidential documents on the Bus Branding Deal which leaked to Citi News recently have let open a can of worms which you’ll never believe any sound administration would condone. Read on to unravel the shocking secrets…
Lots of government officials went scot-free
According to the highly confidential document which is available to Citi News, Ghana’s presidency has been rather lenient in its handling of the bus branding scandal, which led to some 1.9 million Ghana cedis loss to the state due to an over-payment.
Pieces of official evidence seen by Citi News show that state officials of both the Transport and Finance Ministries broke a number of national laws in their supervision of the 3.6 million Ghana cedis bus branding contract executed by Smarttys.
The leaked document, which is said to be the Attorney General’s investigative report on the bus branding scandal, found plentiful evidence of gross desecration of the 1992 Constitution, the Public Procurement Act and a number of other laws that govern the use of public funds which recommended that the officials involved be investigated and punished.
An analysis of the documents clearly shows that several public officers were involved in the procurement and payment process. We therefore recommend that all officers who handled any aspect of these processes flouted the laid down legislation should investigated the Economic and Organised Crime Office [EOCO].”
For instance, according to the report, after review of the state’s contract with Smarttys, the Attorney General found that the state should not have paid Smarttys more than 1.7 million Ghana cedis for the branding project.
Having regard to the above findings we are of the view that Smarttys charged and was paid more than it should have for the service it provided. This situation would not have arisen if proper procurement processes had been observed and a value for money audit conducted. In our view, judging from the quotes received from the local automobile companies, government should not have paid more than GHc1,700,120.49 for re-branding and spraying of the buses (this sum includes VAT and NHIL),” the report indicated.
Also, according to the leaked document, the Presidency ought to have directed the Economic and Organised Crimes Office (EOCO) to investigate all the public officials who handled the contract award as well as the payments made. Those found culpable are to face the appropriate penalties and sanctions for their respective roles in causing the public purse to lose more than 1.9 million Ghana cedis to Smarttys in a deal that should not have cost the national kitty more than 1.7 million Ghana cedis.
However, contrary to the findings and recommendations of the Attorney General, the office of the President simply released a statement in which it directed Smarttys to refund the excess payments to the state without any talk of referral of the offending state officials to EOCO for investigation and subsequent action.
The Ghc3.6m Bus branding cash was initially meant for railway development
Another leaked confidential Government document available to Citi News has also revealed that the GHc 3.6 million of Ghana’s oil revenue released for the controversial bus branding deal, was actually intended for the development of Ghana’s ailing railway sector.
These documents also show that the Ministry of Transport did not have the funds to pay Smarttys and therefore, with the approval of the Ministry of Finance, the Annual Budget Funding Amount (ABFA) to support Railway Infrastructure Development was reallocated to make the payment to Smarttys for the branding of the 116 buses. A section of the leaked document said,
These documents [the AG’s investigative report] also show that the ministry of Transport did not have the funds to pay Smarttys and therefore, with the approval of the Ministry of Finance, the Annual Budget funding Amount (ABFA) to support Railway Infrastructure Development was reallocated to make the payment to Smarttys.”
Bus branding deal was signed before procurement process began
The worst of the revelations which is a clear evidence that the whole bus branding deal is a purported looting was the fact that it never went through the normal procedures laid down for projects or contracts awarding and execution in the country.
Before any government contract is awarded, it is expected to go through procurement processes including the selection of a suitable contractor to execute the project. But yet another highly confidential leaked government document available to Citi News shows that such was not the case in the bus branding deal.
The document believed to be a report from the Attorney General after investigations into the deal, revealed that the branding executed by Smarttys was commenced and concluded long before the procurement process started, a conduct that violated the nation’s procurement laws.
The re-branding by Smarttys was commenced and concluded even before the procurement process began. This fact has been confirmed by both Smarttys and the Ministry of Transport. They attribute this lapse to the urgency attached to re-branding and spraying of the buses,” the report noted.
Again, the report also showed that contrary to the provisions of article 88 of the 1992 constitution, the Ministry of Transport did not submit the bus branding contract with Smarttys to the Attorney General and Minister of Justice for review prior to execution of the deal.
The Bus Branding Deal
Government’s decision to spend GHc3.6 million of Ghana’s oil revenue on branding some 116 Metro Mass Transit (MMT) buses has been widely criticized and described as reckless.
The scandal compelled the Transport Minister, Dzifa Attivor to resign after a massive public outcry.
The Chief of Staff, Julius Debrah subsequently ordered the Attorney General to investigate the matter after which Smarttys has been ordered to refund the excess payments made.
Coined from citifmonline.com