The Speaker of Parliament, Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin, has directed the Minister of Finance to bring all agreements the state has entered into under Article 181 of the 1992 Constitution to the House for ratification.
The directive of Mr Bagbin follows revelation by the Minister of Communication and Digitalisation, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, that the government had acquired Airtel/Tigo from its parent holding company, Bharti Airtel International, an Indian firm.
Per Article 181, all international agreements Ghana enters into shall be subject to Parliamentary approval.
Mrs Owusu-Ekuful in April 2021 revealed that the government had completed the acquisition of the telecommunication network and that same was done for one dollar, though the deal was not brought to the House for ratification.
“Some people find it very difficult to believe we can negotiate good deals for government. I signed the AirtelTigo contract. We acquired it for just a dollar,” she wrote in a Facebook post.
In response to a question asked of her by the Ningo-Prampram MP, Sam George if she had satisfied the provision of Article 181 before acquiring the company, Mrs Owusu-Ekuful told the House that she was yet to bring the deal before the House because she was waiting on the Attorney-General for advice.
“Mr Speaker, the acquisition of telecommunication networks follows a process and that process is ongoing. There are phases in that process. From contract signing to regulatory approval etc.
“We are still in the closing obligation stage of this transaction. All the legal and constitutional provisions will be completed on the advice of the Attorney-General by the end of this meeting of Parliament,” she said.
Giving his directive, however, Mr Bagbin said Parliament could not work with a declaration by Barthi Airtel that it had switched ownership of the company to Ghana as it announced on the Bombay Stock Exchange.
“Parliament doesn’t deal with entities that enter into agreement with government. We deal with government. So when you enter into those agreements, we will depend on your communication and the documents that you attach as the authentic documents for our attention,” the Speaker said.
“So Minister of Finance, kindly take note…and write to us attaching the agreement the Minister of Communication has entered with various agencies for us to work on.
“As at one year [since the purchase], it has not been done. We cannot depend on documents from agencies as authentic documents to work with. This is a notice to the Minister of Finance,” Mr Bagbin directed.
Asking the ministry to take his directive seriously, Mr Bagbin said “the judgement debts are becoming too much for the country,” and cautioned aboutthe legal implications.
BY JULIUS YAO PETETSI