Business News of Monday, 23 May 2016
It is emerging that the GH¢3.6 million paid to Smarttys Management and Productions Ltd for branding 116 Metro Mass Transport (MMT) buses was actually paid from the stricken Ghana Railways Development Authority account.
Incidentally, the Authority’s board is reportedly chaired by Selassie Ibrahim’s husband, Ibrahim Adams, of Quality Grains fame.
Sellasie Ibrahim owns Smarttys which was handpicked for the juicy over-bloated contract.
Pressure group, OccupyGhana, has described the GH¢3.6 million bus branding contract as a ‘sweetheart deal.’
The government intends to revamp the railways industry by using Ghana Railways Development Authority funds for the construction of the Western Corridor Rail under the Ministry of Transport.
It was also established that Smarttys Management and Productions Ltd – owned by actress Selassie Ibrahim – executed the branding contract even before the Ministry of Transport secured approval for the whole transaction.
OccupyGhana has been putting in the public domain detailed analysis of the contract after it obtained it from the Attorney General (AG), following receipt of the contract documents. It had issued a notice to sue the government if the AG refused to hand over details of the contract.
In the Smartty’s payment, which sent tongues wagging, the Ministry of Transport, under then Minister, Dzifa Attivor, wrote to the Ministry of Finance requesting that Smartty’s be paid for branding 116 buses for the MMT and the ministry in turn directed the Controller and Accountant General to process the payment.
The Controller in a letter of August 13, 2015 to the Bank of Ghana, requested for transfer of funds into the Ministry of Transport’s Special Operations Account (1018431540077) an amount of GH¢3,649,044.75 to enable the ministry make payment to Smarttys for the contract.
According to OccupyGhana, the infamous GH¢3.6 million bus branding deal was concluded some two clear months after then minister Dzifa Aku Attivor, had given the contract to Smarttys before the ministry wrote to the Public Procurement Agency (PPA) for approval for sole-sourcing, which is in clear breach of the rules and regulations pertaining to procurement by the government or state institutions.
OccupyGhana had issued a statement saying in summary that “On 28th July, 2015, some two months after Smarttys had completed the branding of the buses, the Chief Director of the Ministry of Transport, signing on behalf of the minister, then wrote to the Public Procurement Agency (PPA) for approval to sole-source the branding contract to Smarttys.”
The former minister was recently in the news asking the people of the Volta Region – stronghold of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) – to retain the party in power in order to save her from going to jail, if the New Patriotic Party (NPP) is given the mandate to rule the country in this year’s elections.
Describing the whole contract as a ‘sweetheart deal,’ OccupyGhana said the Ministry of Transport gave four reasons for not opening the contract up for competitive bidding and said “those reasons, of course, did not include the fact that Smarttys had already concluded the branding.”
The group said the ministry gave some bizarre reasons, including urgency, major threat to national security and deployment of the buses as the reasons for solely awarding the contract to Smarttys.
According to OccupyGhana, it did not make sense for the ministry to hold that the buses had been purchased under a social intervention programme and the colour code which had been selected for the buses was not consistent with the current branding policy of the ministry.
“Why would the ministry with a branding policy on colours, order buses in allegedly wrong colours and then use almost $1m of our monies just to change their colours? Why was the person who ordered the buses in allegedly the wrong colours not surcharged with the cost of simply re-spraying them?
“And when have Ghanaians been bothered about the colour in which a bus is sprayed? What was the original colour and what made that colour so repugnant that more of our monies had to be spent to change it? And how do you change the colour by putting the faces of the president and former leaders on them?” OccupyGhana queried.