Minority demands probe into Oslo mission building

Mr Ablakwa (third from left) speaking at the press conference

Mr Ablakwa (third from left) speaking at the press conference

THE Minority in Parliament has dismissed government’s claim that it has no contractual agreement with any property owner for the purchase of a building for Ghana’s mission in Oslo, Norway.

 

According to the caucus, government’s defence was an “after-thought” and should be rejected by the Ghanaians because Ghana had already committed to purchasing the facility.

 

It is thus demanding that President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo initiated a probe into the “scandal” and bring persons behind it to book.

 

The Minority during the consideration of budget estimate for the Foreign Affairs Ministry on Monday alleged that Ghana was to pay US$12.2 million for a six bedroom facility which cost an unknown buyer US$3.5 million in 2017 for the purpose of a chancery in the Scandinavian country.

 

The claim was repudiated by the government, led by the Foreign Affairs Minister, Ms Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, who said her outfit had pulled out of the deal effective December 12 and that the facility was not part of missions for which approval was being sought.

 

But the Minority at a press conference in Parliament on Tuesday maintained that Ghana had reached an agreement with the property owner and had effected some payments, adding that a check by their source indicate that as of December 13, refurbishment was ongoing.

 

Mr Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, Ranking Member on the Foreign Affairs Committee of Parliament, relying on a heap of papers he said were documents covering the deal claimed that government, through the ministry, had already committed to the purchase.

 

Per one of the documents available to the Ghanaian Times titled, “terms of purchase”, which he said was provided by the Foreign Ministry, government agreed that “the property shall be taken over and the purchase price paid by 31.12.2018. If desired, the seller may defer the transfer to 02.01.19.”

 

It also requested that some modifications, per the agreement, were done to the hundred-year old property including kitchen fittings, sanitation facilities, among other specifications.

 

Responding to claims that he had sprung a surprise on the House with the matter as has been noted by the Majority caucus, Mr Ablakwa said a letter under the signature of the Committee Chairman, Frank Annoh-Dompreh, addressed to the minister on the Minority’s concerns on December 12 and seen by the Ghanaian Times was yet to be replied to.

 

“We have been very fair to the minister. This is not a personal vendetta. We have to do this because of the national interest,” he stated.

 

According to Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, claims by the minister that the Oslo property was not part of the missions lined up to be catered for in the 2019 was untrue.

 

He said the 2019 budget statement presented by the Finance Minister on November 15 provided for the Oslo Mission and that it has already been opened.

 

A check by the Ghanaian Times on paragraph 419 of the budget reads: “Government [has] also opened a Resident Diplomatic Mission in Oslo, Norway and two Consulates-General in Port Louis, Mauritius and Guangzhou, China.”

 

Linking this statement to whether or not government had committed funds to the purchase, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa proved with the Foreign Affairs Committee report which acknowledged that some financial commitment has been made.

 

The report in the possession of the Ghanaian Times admitted that a GH¢15,337,152 has been released for the “establishment of Diplomatic Mission in Oslo, Norway and Consulate-General in Port Louis, Mauritius and Guangzhou, China.”

 

Flanged by members of the committee on the Minority side, Mr Ablakwa requested that the minister furnished them with the letter abrogating the deal.

 

He also wanted to know how much government would incur for abrogating the contract and called on the citizenry to rise against what he said was a fraud being perpetuated on them.

BY JULIUS YAO PETETSI 

 

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