Finance Minister To Sweat In Parliament Today

– $2.25Bn Bond Scandal               

The Finance Minister, Mr. Ken Ofori-Atta, will today appear in Parliament to furnish the august House with details of the US$ 2.25 billion bond government issued earlier this year.

He was summoned to the House by the Speaker, Professor Aaron Mike Oquaye, last week, following a half hour motion moved by the Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu.

The Minority motion  sought to  force  the Finance Minister to provide detailed information, including the full complement of documentation related to issuance, participation, utilisation of the proceeds and currency in which it was issued.

Ken Ofori-Atta, who has been under heat over the controversial $ 2.25billion bond, will, among other things, brief the parliamentarians how the bond was issued without the approval of parliament per the laws regarding external financial transaction.

The issuance of the $2.25 billion bond is undergoing concurrent investigations by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), USA and Ghana’s Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) over possible conflict of interest and secrecy in the deal.

The case of the minority, according to Haruna Iddrisu, is that Article 181 of the Public Financial Management Act enjoins the Finance Minister to bring the deal of such nature before the august House for approval, but that has not happened in case of the $2.25 billion bond.

“We have official statement to the effect that the US$ 2.25 billion has been released. We have passed the Appropriation Act and any other expenditure, pursuant to it, must have the attention of this August House,” Mr. Iddrisu stated, while moving the motion last week.

“In the considered opinion of the Minority, Ken Ofori-Atta’s confession that the bond was issued to switch short-term domestic instruments, which is 91 and 182 days treasury bills, trading at 16.35 per cent and 16.70 with a long-term debt of 19.75, was misplaced and puts a heavy financial burden on the nation, specifically the future leaders of the country.

“Per the Minority calculation, the nation will have to cough up an interest of $440 million annually and $6.9 billion interest to the Frank Templeton within the 15 year bond.

“What surprises us is for the Finance Minister to go for a long term debt of 19.75 per cent to switch off a debt of 16.35 per cent. In fact, his action is willfully causing financial loss to the state,” the Minority argued.

The issuance of the bond has generated political brouhaha in the country, making the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government uncomfortable.

The worst of all is that, the minority and other financial experts have expressed outrage following revelations that 95 per cent of the bond was sold to an American Bond Fund, Franklin Templeton, whose Director, Trevor Trefgarne, doubles as Chairman of the Board of Directors of Enterprise Group Ltd, a company co-owned by Ken Ofori-Atta, President Nana Akufo Addo cousin.

Nonetheless, Mr. Ofori-Atta has vehemently denied any wrongdoing, despite ongoing investigation, insisting that the bond will yield good dividend for the country which would be used to expand infrastructures.

His appearing before parliament today will undoubtedly open a new page on the debate of the bond between the Minority and the Majority in parliament and, as well, generate public debate.



Source: / Felix Engsalige Nyaaba


The Republic News Online

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