AG defends payment of over ¢67m judgement debt to CP under Mahama

Attorney General Gloria Akuffo has defended the over 67 million cedis paid to Construction Pioneers (CP) by the Mahama government in 2015 as judgement. Questions had been raised about the payment of the amount to the construction firm, with the Auditor General claiming it was done without recourse to Cabinet approval as was required at the time. Per the 2016 Auditor General’s Report bank statement of the Justice Ministry showed a payment of GH¢67,380,718.20 (direct debit) was made to Construction Pioneers as judgement debt on behalf of the state without any reference to cabinet. At the time of the payment, there was a government decision which required payments of judgement debt exceeding 10 million cedis to be approved by cabinet before the amount is released. But appearing before the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament on Tuesday, the AG refuted the claim contained in the report of the Auditor General, noting that due processes were followed in the payment of the amount. Ranking member of the Public Accounts Committee, Kofi Agyekum, had sought to suggest the cabinet letter was issued and backdated to reflect the date of payment of the amount but that was rejected by the AG. The Attorney General said the suggestion by the committee member could not be accurate because her checks from the records department of the Ministry of Justice and Attorney General showed the cabinet letter was received in 2013, way ahead of the payment date. Background A Settlement Agreement executed between Government of Ghana (GoG) and CP construction Pioneers (CP) on March 18, 2010 arrived at a global settlement of all GoG’s indebtedness to CP Construction Pioneers. Per the terms of the Settlement Agreement, GoG undertook to pay to CP a global amount of €94 million out of which an amount of €14 million had already been paid in 2009. The outstanding sum of €80 million was to be retired in ten monthly instalments of principal and interest commencing on March 31, 2010 and ending on June 30, 2012. The parties also agreed that in the event that any payment is made after the due date then GoG would be liable to pay additional interest. The Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning in 2012 suspended payments of the two final instalments as it sought advice from the then Attorney-General on whether to pay or not in view of the hearings into the Settlement Agreement by the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament.

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