Majority Leader defends Ameri deal

The Majority Leader in Parliament, Alban Bagbin, has defended Parliament’s decision to approve the controversial US$593 million Ameri power deal.

According to him, the law makers exercised due diligence by examining the deal thoroughly before giving it their approval.

“I really do not see anything wrong with the agreement. It was laid in Parliament on March 3, and we finally looked at it on March 20. There is absolutely nothing wrong with it,” he told reporters in Parliament yesterday.

Mr. Bagbin was responding to a publication in a Norwegian newspaper called VG, that the Ghanaian government entered into an arrangement to secure a 250-megawatts power plant with a company of dubious background.

The paper alleged that the government did not exercise due diligence before entering into the agreement, because the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the company, Umar Farooq Zahoor, was a known fraudster.

It claimed that the transaction amount of US$510 million was inflated, compared to other options available.

As a result, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) has called for an open bi-partisan parliamentary inquiry into the Ameri deal.

Some members of the public have taken on the legislature for not exercising due diligence before approving the deal.

However, Mr. Bagbin dismissed the publication, and argued that the issues raised lacked evidence to impugn that the government engaged in a fraudulent deal.

Mr. Bagbin said the House’s Committee on Mines and Energy, made up of experienced law makers, including ministers of state from previous governments, took their time to peruse the deal before unanimously recommending to the House to approve it.

On why Parliament took only six minutes to debate and approve the deal, he said “most of the issues had already been addressed at the committee level and so there was no need to spend time debating on any new matter”.

Touching on the call for a parliamentary probe, the Majority Leader, said the call by the NPP was misplaced because the decision to enter into the agreement was taken by Parliament, when it approved the deal in March.

“The NPP did not properly consider the issue because the Ameri agreement was approved by Parliament and so we rather took that decision. It is not government that approved it, government proposed that because of the energy crises, they were going to do one, two, three, including the Ameri agreement, and this was brought to Parliament and Parliament approved it after thorough investigation,” he said.

Mr. Bagbin said the NPP could not make a general call on Parliament to probe into what it had already approved and advised the party to rather petition the House to relook at the issues.

By Yaw Kyei

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