The Minister of Monitoring and Evaluation, Dr. Anthony Akoto Osei will be making sure the contract for $1 billion Atuabo Gas plant in the Western Region is brought before parliament following allegations the deal was overpriced.
“I am going to ask the Minister of Energy to take it up and bring it to Parliament, even if it is late so that at least, we know the true value,” the minister indicated on Eyewitness News, despite the contract already being operational.
His statement comes after the Co-chair of the Ghana Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (GHEITI), Dr. Steve Manteaw alleged that the $1 billion cost of the Atuabo Gas plant was overpriced by $40 million.The Chinese company which undertook the project, SINOPEC, engaged in fraudulent activities in the execution of the project, Dr. Manteaw further alleged.
He told Citi News that Ghana Revenue Authority, which is investigating the matter, has so far recouped about $15 million from the company for bloating the contract sum.
The Monitoring and Evaluation Minister was, however, operating on limited knowledge and said more definite steps will be taken after the contract is brought before Parliament.
“Let’s get there and lawyers can advise us. At least, let us have the information, interrogate it, see the nature of the so-called overpricing and then we can go further. Maybe some minister who was in the previous government will have to account for bracing the law,” he explained.
SINOPEC was to construct the Atuabo Gas plant at Ellembelle in the Western Region to provide gas to meet the energy demands of the nation in the midst of the power crisis.
The $1 billion project, which received stiff opposition from some members of the then-minority New Patriotic Party (NPP) in Parliament, was later completed in 2014 and commissioned in 2015. It was producing over 140 million cubic feet of gas per day for the Aboadze Thermal Plant at the time.
Contract was not brought before parliament
The contract between SINOPEC and Ghana gas was not brought before Parliament despite appeals to the Mahama government from the Minority at the time
“The loan came to Parliament, but the works contract was never brought before us so there was no way any member of Parliament could have found out if we got value for money. We have always believed we did not get value for money,” Dr. Akoto Osei recounted.
As a national economic transaction, it had to be brought before Parliament so we could “interrogate it to make sure we are getting value for money but it never did,” he added.
Such a move could have been considered an illegality but Dr. Akoto Osei explained that, “at that time, because of the strategic nature of the plant, some of us decided we would not go to court and we kept urging the government to bring it but they never brought it… the project was quite strategic. We needed the Ghana Gas plant so we were not willing to go to court to make it null and void.”