Hon. James Klutse Avedzi, Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), has advised the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation to go back to RLG Communications Limited, to finish the Laptop supply contract to recover a GHS6.3million debt.
The advice followed the 2015 Auditor-General’s report that cited the RLG Company Limited for default in supply of laptops per a contract, despite receiving full payment for it.
The report said, in line with the policy of promoting indigenous Ghanaian businesses, hence the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation entered into an agreement with RLG Communications Ltd. to produce and distribute 103,181 pieces of laptops at a total cost of GHC 51, 257, 500.00.
Out of the total, RLG supplied and distributed 90,448 pieces, leaving a balance of 12,733 pieces worth GHC 6,366,875.00, it was earlier reported.
The report further pointed that Rlg had indicated that no request was made by the ministry to produce and distribute the remaining laptops.
It recommended that management should ensure that Rlg supplied the remaining 12,733 pieces of laptops to the ministry or refund the balance without further delay.
While answering to the queries raised in the report at the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament sitting in Accra last Friday, the Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, Professor Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng, said Rlg supplied some laptops to the ministry, leaving an outstanding balance of 12,733.
He explained that the ministry then agreed with Rlg to supply bigger laptops with higher specifications in its subsequent supplies.
Per the conversion, he said it was agreed that Rlg would supply 3,180 bigger laptops, instead of the remaining 12,733 smaller laptops. The smaller laptops sold at GH¢500 each, while the bigger ones went for GH¢2,000 each.
However, Prof. Frimpong-Boateng said, Rlg supplied the laptops which were the same as the first ones in terms of size and specifications and indicated that the only difference was that the new ones were detachable (tablet).
He said, the total supplies of Rlg to the ministry (comprising the first contract and the second contract of 4,000 laptops) was 3,800, stressing, “We paid for 12,733 pieces of Better Ghana laptops costing GHC6,366, 875.00 and the Ministry, in a letter to RLG in April 28, 2015, we asked the company to supply the outstanding laptops and they have not yet supplied.
“Again, in a letter to RLG on the 26th of January, this year, we requested the company to either supply or pay for the computers that they have not supplied and this has not yet been done.
“The company wrote to us on the 27th of July, indicating that they have supplied all the computers, but we, however, wish to inform the committee that, that is not the case; the company has not supplied 12, 733, these are still outstanding,” Prof. Frimpong-Boateng said.
Prof. Frimpong-Boateng said he had communicated to the managing director of Rlg via phone, message and Whatsapp to refund the outstanding GH¢6.3 million to the ministry, and the company had agreed to refund the money, but the bone of contention was the mode of payment.
According to him, Rlg wanted to make part payment and spread the rest over months, but the ministry wanted an upfront payment on the grounds that the company was not paying any interest on the money.
As the result, he said, the ministry was preparing a letter to the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice on the need to get a refund of the money from Rlg.
Nonetheless, Mr. Avedzi said: “What they (Ministry) should have done was to agree with them (RLG) that, once you have not supplied what we asked for, we cannot pay the price of the higher spec and let’s agree on a new price then they determine what quantity should be supplied then this matter is resolved.”
He advised the ministry to first write to the Rlg to indicate that the laptops did not meet the right specifications and in the event that the Rlg failed to supply the specified laptops, then the ministry follows up with the letter to the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice
The Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee noted that, “as we speak now, RLG does not owe the ministry or government the GHC 6.3million,” but rather an outstanding supply which must be collected.
He added that, per the argument, Rlg Communications Limited could be owing the state GH¢6.3 million if it failed to fulfil the contract to supply the required quantity of laptops to the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation.
Nevertheless, some members of PAC questioned and described as unusual the payment of the contract sums to Rlg, even before the supply of the laptops, arguing that should not have happened, and called for collaboration between the ministry and PAC to retrieve the money or the computers.
Some letters written by the company, cited by members of the PAC, revealed that RLG claimed it supplied the outstanding computers by supplying 3,000 higher spec laptops to make up for the over 12,000 lower spec laptops it failed to supply under the free laptop distribution policy contract it signed with government in 2010.
Source: therepublicnewsonline.com/Felix Engsalige Nyaaba