Yen tie obiaa: Parliament passes another overpriced ‘Smarttys’ deal

ParliamentThe Minority in Parliament is fuming with anger after it claimed the Majority bulldozed its way through the passage of what it claimed is an overpriced rural electrification deal.

The Minority is therefore questioning the due diligence the government did before concluding on the over 90 million dollars deal with a Chinese firm, China Hunan Construction Engineering Group to extend electricity to some 556 communities in Volta, Eastern and Northern Regions of Ghana.

The minority is raising eyebrow on this particular deal when it emerged that the local partner of the firm is Smarttys Management and Productions Limited, a company found to have overpriced by GHc1.9 million, a bus branding deal it had with government recently.

Meanwhile, an initial Value for Money audit by international firm Crown Agents said the electrification contract had been overpriced by more than 20 million dollars. A further assessment by the same agency found that the deal has been overpriced by some 9 million dollars and called for the contract scope to be widened proportionately.

Parliament however passed the deal today, Monday 14th March 2016.

The MP for Manhyia South, Mathew Opoku Prempeh who made serious reservation about the deal told Parliament earlier that government should not have entered into the deal with the Chinese firm when it found out that its local partner was Smarttys.

“Mr. Speaker, I haven’t said anybody has stolen money so please don’t add that in the Hansard. All I am saying is that, if the government did any due diligence and found out that the local representative of this contract is the same contractor who has been found to overbill the government in similar contract, we would have advised ourselves.

“Mr. Speaker, even by the World Bank procurement laws, that company that has been found in one corner of the world abusing a World Bank process is banned from all World Bank projects for a number of years. How come the government negotiators, lawyers, economists and deputy Ministers all did not find out that there is a similarity between Smarttys in this contract and Smarttys in the rebranding. Smarttys overbilling here, Smarttys overbilling there, Smarttys overbilling everywhere….Mr. Speaker, we are talking about due diligence,” he rejected the contract.
“The re-pricing and overpricing is getting just overboard,” frustrated Opoku Prempeh later told Citi FM.

He criticized the Majority for what he described as “yen tie obiaa attitude” that is refusing to listen to dissenting views as it uses its number to pass the deal.

He noted that when the Minority raised questions they were “taunted by the Majority and called us all sorts of names because they want the deal quickly passed”.

He further maintained, “The majority didn’t just care, the yen tie obiaa attitude. It has happened with the Ridge [hospital project], it has happened with other contracts. We have seen it over, and over again.

“The stock in trade of this government is not to listen, not to do value for money, not to be transparent…what we are saying is the epitome of this government. This is the nature of this government not to do anything right or above board.”

But Mutawakilu Adam, the MP for Damongo and Deputy Chairman of the Energy and Mines Committee of Parliament, vehemently rejected Minority’s position on due diligence.

“Parliament and committee have been very, very diligent and we have done a good job,” he said of the passage of the bill.
He also said Minority’s claim of overpricing is ill-informed.

The initial 22.7 million that was quoted by Crown Agent as being the overpriced figure was not based on “existing contract but based on a similar contract somewhere”, he explained, adding it is even subject to changes depending on the situation at the actual project site.

Insisting that the committee was “highly convinced that government did a good job”, Mr. Adam wondered why nobody or organization sent a document to Parliament after the deal was made public to challenge the price of the project.
Meanwhile, Deputy Minister of Energy John Jinapor has told TV3 government has no contract with Smarttys so far as the rural electrification project is concerned, adding the government did not concern itself about the local partner the Chinese firm chooses to deal with.

Source: Isaac Essel | | Ghana

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