AMERI deal is clean — Kwabena Donkor

Dr Kwabena Donkor

Dr Kwabena Donkor

Former Power Minister, Dr Kwabena Donkor, has mounted a strong defence for the previous administration in the Africa Middle East Resources Investment (AMERI) Group power badge deal, giving the transaction a clean bill of health.

Dr Donkor, Pru East MP, said there was a value for money audit by the government before the deal was entered into with the Qatari firm for the provision of 250MW power badge at the cost of US$ 510 million.

Appearing before Parliament’s Mines and Energy Committee on Friday to answer questions regarding the deal, Dr Donkor said government took the right decision at the time to save Ghanaian businesses from shutting down as a result of the energy crisis that engulfed the country between 2013 and 2015.

He said the Volta River Authority, the lead agent of the state in the negotiations, has been part of the contract talks at every step of the way and okayed the deal before it was entered into even though the government negotiation team as a whole took collective responsibility.

“They [the VRA] furnished the ministry and followed up to the committee to brief the committee on how much it was going to cost if we had the resource and were to construct the plant ourselves,” he said, to back his claim that due diligence was done before committing the country to the deal.

The transaction, he said, was easy to be criticised now since the country was out of the power crisis because in the midst of the energy crisis, all the country needed was power at all cost to turn the fortunes of the economy around and warned that terminating the deal could affect Ghana’s investment climate.

Adansi Asokwa MP, Kobina Tahir Hammond, backed by the majority caucus of parliament, is seeking the revocation of the deal for possible misrepresentations by AMERI.

Mr KT Hammond, the man who seconded the approval of the deal in 2015 as the ranking member on the Mines and Energy Committee, in August filed an urgent motion to have the deal annulled.

AMERI was contracted to build, own, operate and transfer 250MW fast track power generation solution by installing 10 GE aero derivative gas turbines to address the then debilitating power crisis.

Mr Hammond, appearing before the committee earlier contended that AMERI overcharged the government and sublet the contract to Turkish firm, Power Project SANAYI (PPR) at US$ 315 million less than what was charged, a move he said was against the terms and conditions of the agreement.

But Dr Donkor told the committee, chaired by Odotobri MP, Emmanuel Akwasi Gyamfi, that Ghana got a good deal because “the big lending institution that underwrote the standby letter of credit will not do that without doing due diligence.”

In Dr Donkor’s view, “in an emergency situation, the most important thing is the outcome and not necessarily the process”, he said, insisting that Ghana got a good deal because it will own the plant unlike other deals which never saw the power badges transferred to the country.

He said it was wrong for the majority to criminalise other parties in the deal because it has the opportunity to re-engage the investors, if it feels something untoward happened.

To Dr Kwabena Donkor, the standing orders of parliament barred the house from rescinding the decision of a previous parliament, adding that the intentions of the majority may be “honourable”, but the process being used was wrong.

His conviction is supported by the minority caucus who resisted Mr Hammond’s urgent motion and has since boycotted the committee’s sittings on the AMERI subject matter.

 

BY JULIUS YAO PETETSI        

 

 

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