Former Power Minister Dr Kwabena Donkor has said Energy Minister Boakye Agyarko should be held responsible if an abrogation of the AMERI power deal causes Ghana to be slapped with hefty cost within the courts of international arbitration.
Dr Donkor’s comment follows hints by Mr Agyarko that the Akufo-Addo government could abrogate the $510million Africa and Middle East Resources Investment deal because enough due diligence was not done by the Mahama administration prior to signing the deal.
Mr Boakye told the Mines and Energy Committee investigating the motion for rescission of the deal on Tuesday, October 31 that the Ministry will conduct financial analysis and decide on the decision which could include abrogation.
“Both parties can consent to set aside the agreement for renegotiation, that’s an option. We could push the case for annulment based on the establishment of fraud, malfeasance or any such untoward behaviour for an agreement, or we could push for an abrogation that would incur some liabilities; we are examining all these in terms of the financial implications. It may well be that given the situation as we find it, we may be better off abrogating than letting it run. We will run the numbers and make a financial decision based on that,” he said at the meeting.
Member of Parliament (MP) for Adansi Asokwa, K.T. Hammond, had filed a motion of rescission asking Parliament to withdraw its approval of the power agreement in 2015.
Mr Hammond wants it cancelled, even though he seconded its passage to rent the 300MW emergency power plant at the height of the power crisis in 2015 in his capacity as the Ranking Member of the Energy Committee of Parliament.
The Speaker referred the motion to the Mines and Energy Committee for deliberation, but the Minority claims the move is alien to their standing orders leading to a boycott of the committee’s work.
With the principal witness, K.T. Hammond, already given his testimony last Wednesday, it was the turn for the current Energy Minister.
Mr Hammond presented the following evidence to back his call for the rescission of the deal.
(1) AMERI did not provide fast-track equipment contrary to the agreement. They assigned their interest to a subsidiary known as AMERI Equipment which was registered 13 days after the agreement had been signed with Ghana.
(2) AMERI Equipment (the subsidiary) did not undertake the construction but assigned this to a Turkish Company called PPR without the consent of the government of Ghana as required.
(3) A Turkish company, PPR, bore all financial risk, raised all capital and was paid with money government of Ghana paid AMERI.
However, Dr Donkor told Francis Abban on Accra-based Starr FM on Wednesday, 1 November that: “If the abrogation leads to any financial loss, civil society should hold him [Boakye Agyarko] personally responsible.”
“We should learn from our mistakes. The essence of history is the lessons that are available so that we don’t repeat the same mistakes. It is not wrong to make a mistake. A mistake is a learning opportunity but if you repeat the same mistake, there’s something wrong with you,” Dr Donkor warned.
Citing an example to buttress his point about how cancelling the contract could hurt Ghana, Dr Donkor recounted: “When the NDC-2 government came into power, there was the issue of Balkan Energy. Balkan Energy had been contracted by the Kufuor regime to repair the power barge which GNPC had imported some years back and generate power. For, at least, four years, Balkan Energy was unable to do this, so, the new NDC government abrogated the contract on the basis that the contract itself was null and void because it was not approved by parliament.
“The Supreme Court ruled that the contract was null and void. Per our constitutional provisions, it should have been brought to parliament but it wasn’t brought, we jumped thinking we had won but at international arbitration, Ghana lost and cost was awarded against Ghana even when our Supreme Court had ruled that the contract was null and void.
“These things have international repercussions, so, if you seat on a sit of partisanship and take a decision and the decision at the international level results in cost against Ghana for the second time, we should hold you responsible,” he warned.
In Dr Donkor’s view, rather than abrogate the deal, the government of Ghana can iron out any differences it has with AMERI on the deal.
“There are processes in the contract for dispute resolution. What stops us from evoking those processes and procedures in the contract? We are partners with AMERI in this particular transaction, so, if disputes arise between partners, there are always ways of resolving those disputes. You don’t criminalise the behaviour by calling it fraudulent and then you want to go back and negotiate. If it’s a negotiating tactic, it’s a very wrong one.”