Politics

US$81.8m now hitting over US$250m – Ablakwa blows alarm on BoG Head Office mystery

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Member of Parliament for North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa has published documents suggesting that the original value of the Bank of Ghana’s new offices was a little over US$81m but is now likely to exceed the US$250m tag given by the Minority in Parliament.

The MP, in a publication dated August 17, 2023, revealed among others that the initial procurement processes for the office started in 2020 contrary to the view that it started under the erstwhile government.

Ablakwa listed 26 revelations in his post addressing the corporate governance issues from the outset, the issue of tendering and procurement, the companies contracted on the project and other issues of public concern.

The facility, which is currently costed at US$250 million according to the Minority in Parliament, has attracted a lot of reactions since the apex bank confirmed that it was indeed building a new head office.

The BoG in response to a press statement by the minority stated last week that the new office complex was necessary principally for security and other reasons, stressing that the current location was not safe in the case of an earthquake.

Ablakwa’s publication is the latest installment of pressure on the Ernest Addison-led BoG.

The Minority have demanded he resigns along with his two deputies over the 60 billion cedis losses recorded in 2022 as contained in an annual report released weeks ago.

The Minority has also served notice that it will picket at the premises of the bank if the governor refuses to resign after 21 days of their demand.

Read Ablakwa’s post below:

Unraveling the Bankrupt BoG Head Office Mystery— From an initial US$81.8million, suddenly escalating to US$121million & currently threatening to exceed US$250million

I have depressingly followed the national debate on what many outraged Ghanaians have described as the extravagant and wasteful US$250million new Bank of Ghana Corporate Head Office.

It is obvious from the Bank of Ghana’s feeble and anaemic defence that they have opted not to be transparent, candid and accountable to the good people of Ghana.

A shocking and embarrassing interview of Mr. Charles Elias Reindorf, Director of Finance at the Central Bank where he abruptly ended an interview following a harmless question on the cost of the project has since gone viral.

Instructively, the Bank of Ghana in all its public engagements has refused to disclose the current cost of the project, the procurement method, when the project was awarded and the scheduled completion date.

Some NPP propagandists including Mr. Richard Ahiagbah opportunistically jumped into the fray claiming that the project started under the NDC when Hon. Ato Forson served on the Bank of Ghana Board between 2013 and 2017.

Considering the deliberate distortion, lack of transparency, sponsored obfuscation and naked dishonesty; I decided to activate my constitutionally mandated parliamentary oversight role, so I could unravel the mystery in our collective national interest.

I can today report that I have intercepted unimpeachable, incontrovertible, irrefutable and undeniable documents from the Bank of Ghana and other credible sources which significantly reveal the following:

1. The Bank of Ghana commenced procurement processes for the controversial palatial head office on 14th January, 2020 when they wrote to the Public Procurement Authority (PPA) seeking approval to strangely use the Restricted Tendering Procurement Method;

2. The PPA by letter dated 28th January, 2020 signed by its Acting Chief Executive, Mr. Frank Mantey communicated approval of the Board for the BoG to proceed with its desire to use the Restricted Tendering Method;

3. From the intercepted documents, procurement for the project did not commence under the NDC or during the tenure of Hon. Ato Forson as Board Member, neither did it start during the presidency of H.E. John Mahama, contrary to the vicious fabrications by some desperate NPP apologists;

4. The BoG’s unacceptable use of the Restricted Tendering Method amounts to a blatant violation of the Public Procurement Act, 2003 (Act 663) as amended in Act 914. Section 38 of Act 663 provides a limited scope for the use of Restricted Tendering in circumstances where goods, services or works are available only from a limited number of suppliers or contractors;

5. From the intercepted documents, the BoG handpicked the following companies: i) Messrs. WBHO Ghana Limited, ii) Messrs. Man Enterprise, iii) Messrs. DeSimone Limited, iv) Messrs. Ronesans Holdings and v) Messrs. Goldkey Properties;

6. It is not clear what criteria the BoG used in selecting its preferred 5 companies when Ghana’s built environment can boast of many established and celebrated construction firms such as Consar, Berock, Maripoma, Mawums, M. Barbisotti, First Sky, Antartic, Ussuya, Regimanuel, and so on and so forth;

7. None of the BoG’s shortlisted companies can lay claim to any patent or exclusive capacity which other construction firms in that category do not possess and therefore warranting or justifying the use of restricted tendering;

8. It is obvious that Ghana would have had better value for money if the BoG had been less shady and opened up the process — opting for a full competitive tendering process;

9. In a bizarre twist, further investigations reveal that one of the BoG’s 5 “ordained” companies: Messrs. Ronesans Holdings is not registered at the Office of the Registrar of Companies. How did an unregistered company qualify to participate in a restricted tender?;

10. I intercepted another letter dated 4th September, 2020 also signed by PPA Acting Chief Executive, Mr. Frank Mantey which shockingly reveals that just within 8 months, the cost of the BoG Head Office project astronomically increased from US$81,882,640.00 to US$121,078,517.94.

11. Experts say this staggering US$40million increase in the project cost between January and September 2020 in a dollar denominated contract is absolutely mind boggling;

12. A 40% hike merely after tender evaluation in dollar pricing, not cedis, raises many critical questions for the BoG;

13. A credible full competitive tender process would have avoided this arbitrary cost escalation and guaranteed value for money;

14. Ironically, all these procurement breaches and sleazy price escalation at taxpayer expense was happening during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic when President Akufo-Addo and Governor Addison had given Ghanaians assurances that they had put everything else on hold and were focusing on saving lives. Addison even claimed in June 2020 that the Central Bank was struggling in financing government because of Covid only to initiate this mega project on the blindside of Ghanaians;

15. Deeper investigations into the shady BoG head office project led me to discover another reckless and lawless conduct by the Addison-led Central Bank when they procured the services of a company known as MULTICAD to carry out project management through single-sourcing. (See PPA letter of 22nd September, 2021 as attached);

16. Section 40 of Act 663 provides the conditions for single-sourcing which do not apply in this instance;

17. There is no compelling genuine reason which justifies MULTICAD’s sweetheart deal of US$3.45million from Governor Addison;

18. What was Governor Addison’s special interest in ensuring that MULTICAD was single-sourced when there are hundreds of competitors out there who should have been allowed to compete for us to have value for money;

19. Curiously, this is a regime which made considerable noise in opposition against what they described as the dangers of single-sourced projects;

20. Strangely, MULTICAD’s articles of incorporation secured from the Office of the Registrar of Companies suggest that the company was registered on December 10, 2021 even though it received PPA approval on September 22, 2022. (See copy attached);

21. These numerous blatant procurement breaches, rigged procurement machinations, magical price escalations and lack of due diligence raise legitimate questions about the stewardship of PPA Board Chair, Prof. Christopher Ameyaw-Akumfi and his colleagues at the PPA;

22. Patriotic Bank of Ghana insiders working with me on this latest oversight project have expressed grave concern about how this BoG office complex which started at US$81.8million, surprisingly shot up to US$121million, and now variation reports are being prepared which are likely to exceed an incredible US$250million. This scary development invokes memories of the scandalous Akufo-Addo Cathedral which started at a US$100million and has now exceeded US$400million;

23. It is most astonishing for MisGovernor Addison who has presided over the BoG’s biggest losses in living memory of GHS60.8billion to initiate an US$81.8million head office project only to now saddle Ghanaians with a bill which is about three times more. The height of recklessness and gross mismanagement!;

24. Probably, MisGovernor Addison couldn’t be bothered about the frightening cost escalations for his new empire office project because he thought he could mindlessly continue with his illegal printing of cash;

25. This exposé clearly shows how MisGovernor Addison and his colleagues in management at the BoG have been deliberately lawless and remarkably destructive. Ironically, they punished others and collapsed their banks for far less.

26. All well-meaning Ghanaians must join the #OccupyBoGProtest. MisGovernor Addison and his fellow nation wreckers must go! Let us rescue our only country.

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