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Weekly Round-up: Audit Report on GRA/SML Deal Finally Out but SSNIT Hotel Sale Raises Questions

In our weekly round-up, we summarize thetop stories that made the headlines over the week.

This week, two key issues dominated the headlines; the alleged sale of SSNIT hotels to the Minister for Agriculture and MP for Abetifi, Bryan Acheampong, and the release of the full KPMG audit report on the GRA/SML deal. In this weekly round-up, we summarize these top stories and related issues that came up during the week.

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Sale of SSNIT Hotels Faces Opposition

This week, the Member of Parliament for North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa petitioned the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) to investigate and stop an alleged sale of six hotels belonging to state social security firm SSNIT to Bryan Acheampong, the Minister for Agriculture and MP for Abetifi.

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The hotels included the Labadi Beach Hotel, the La Palm Royal Beach Resort, the Elmina Beach Resort, the Ridge Royal Hotel, the Busua Beach Resort, and the Trust Lodge Hotel.

Ablalwa’s case hinges on an alleged conflict of interest, and several actions that he says have caused an “abuse of office, procurement breaches, cronyism, and graft.”

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Shortly after this revelation, the management of the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) dismissed any wrongdoing through a press release. They described the decision to sell 60 per cent of its stake in the hotels to Bryan Amoateng’s Rock City as a way of engaging in a strategic partnership to raise capital to invest in the hotels.

According to the SSNIT in a press release, the objective of bringing in a strategic investor is to improve operational efficiency, profitability, shareholder value, and the long-term sustainability of the SSNIT Pension Scheme as the process is nearing its final stages.

Since the news of the sale came out, SSNIT has faced a lot of public backlash. Organized labour, which has four representatives on SSNIT’s Board of Trustees, held a press conference on Monday, insisting they would not permit SSNIT to sell the hotels, particularly to a government minister.

Here’s an editorial we wrote on the issue:

Akufo-Addo Releases Full KPMG Report on GRA/SML Deal

On Wednesday, President Nana Akufo-Addo released the full KPMG audit report into the controversial contract between the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) and the Strategic Mobilisation Limited (SML) after persistent calls from civil society advocates and Right To Information (RTI) requests from the media watchdog, the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA).

To see the full report, click here.

Following the release, investigative journalist, Manasseh Azure Awuni, has called for a full termination of the controversial contract.

“I am not impressed about the fact that they [Government] are still trying to keep aspects of this contract,” he said on Joy FM.

Ato-Forson and the Ambulance Saga, is the Attorney General Complicit?

The Accra High Court fixed May 3 to determine whether the Minority Leader in parliament, Dr Casiel Ato Forson and three others wilfully caused financial loss to the state, but the case has further dragged with more drama than imagined.

The third defendant, Richard Jakpa for instance, testified to the fact that the then health minister at the post, Sherry Ayitey fully approved the deal in a letter dated July 19, in which he further explained that the Bank of Ghana only activated the letters of credit after receiving permission from the then Deputy Controller and Accountant General, verifying their validity.

But in an interesting turn of events, Jakpa revealed that the Attorney General continually pestered him in a bid to get him to implicate the Minority Leader, a move many have labelled as unethical and a breach of legal order.

However, the Attorney General, Godfred Dame has debunked claims made by Mr Jakpa. He said no underhand tactics were employed by his outfit to coerce Mr Jakpa to testify against Dr Forson but the accused has rather contacted the AG’s office several times to bargain for a plea deal.

In addition, according to the AG, he has in his possession a piece of video evidence depicting the first accused, Dr Forson pleading to have the case discontinued. 

Shortly after, the chairman of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Johnson Asiedu Nketia called the AG and the government out, citing them as subverting judicial processes and oppressive.

He in turn also revealed that the NDC will put out incontrovertible evidence on the matter at hand to corroborate the testimony of Richard Jakpa.

Many have found Jakpa’s testimony baffling and have considerably questioned the credibility of the AG afterwards. The NDC parliamentary candidate for the Abura Asebu-Kwamankese constituency for the 2024 elections, Felix Ofosu Kwakye, has confirmed the availability of evidence of the fact that the AG tried to use underhand tactics during the trial.

Only the evidence can prove the AG is complicit or not – and it’s something we look forward to uncovering.

While you're here, we just want to remind you of our commitment to telling the stories that matter the most.Our commitment is to our readers first before anything else.

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