Monday, 8 January 2018

CHRAJ’s report indicts finance minister – Analysts




Adnan Adams Mohammed

Image result for CONFLICT OF INTEREST

The Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta has been advised by some economists in the country to resign after the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice’s (CHRAJ) released it's report on the US$2.25 billion bonds issued last year after it was petitioned.

Dr. Lord Mensah, a lecturer at the University of Ghana Business School has  called on Finance Minister, Ken Ofori Atta to vacate his post. This is due to claims that, he breached sections of the Public Financial Management Act (PFMA) in the issuance of the 2.25 billion dollar bond.

According to the economics lecturer, the move could partly be blamed on the relatively high-interest rate the bond attracted.

“If you know very well that concentrating on the bond and it has caused the nation in terms of interest rate that is being paid unnecessarily; at a point when interest rate can even get to a level of nine percent and they are still paying 19 percent then it is a cost to the nation,” he exclaimed.

He added that “As a finance minister and a manager of the economy’s purse, you understand very well the ideal thing to do. Sorting for finance should diversify the sources. More or less that will trigger the pricing of the fund in terms of interest that is supposed to be paid on them”.

Similarly,  a Lecturer at the GIMPA Law Faculty, Justice Srem Sai, has also  questioned the  CHRAJ exoneration of Finance Minister in the controversial US$2.25 billion bond petition report.

CHRAJ, in its 140-page report concluded that although Mr. Ofori-Atta was not guilty of conflict of interest, he breached some processes in the issuance of the bond.

But the law lecturer argues that the Commission erred when it determined differently from the evidence available to it.

His argument was premised on basis that “the findings of CHRAJ point to one direction” while its “decision on the findings points to another direction.”

“Basically, what it means is that, the findings do not support the decision that CHRAJ made. CHRAJ’s findings that the Minister was in a potential conflict of interest situation shouldn’t have ended with a conclusion that the minister was not guilty of a violation of the conflict of interest rule. It should have actually gone ahead to say that potential conflict of interest whether or not, the minister benefited and it’s still conflict of interest”

The lawyer didn’t understand why the CHRAJ report cleared the Finance Minister despite making contrary findings, adding that Mr. Ofori-Attah had the opportunity to challenge the findings should it have gone against him.

“It is possible that CHRAJ’s findings did not reflect the actual facts, but when that happens there is an opportunity for the Minister to apply to the courts to review the findings of CHRAJ, but so far as these facts are on record, CHRAJ couldn’t have come to the conclusion that the Minister is cleared of these allegations,” Justice Sai added.

Meanwhile, Yaw Brogya Genfi, the National Democratic Congress [NDC] member who petitioned CHRAJ to investigate the Finance Minister, has said Mr. Ofori-Atta risks being removed from office over the findings made against him in the report.

According to Mr. Genfi, failure to follow statutory procedures in the issuance of the government’s US$2.25bn bond could cost the Finance Minister his job.

“..The evidence so far indicts him [Ken Ofori-Atta] of several illegalities which constitutes enough grounds for his removal from office,” he said.

But, Dr. Lord Mensah insists the minister must do the honorable thing and resign.

“But then and therefore if I were to be a minister, I would have done the honorable thing by resigning” he stated.

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