Ghana: Battle Over the Sale of Ghanatelecom - No Parliamentary Approval for Amendments to SPA

Ghana: Battle Over the Sale of Ghanatelecom - No Parliamentary Approval for Amendments to SPA Evidence-led before an Accra Commercial Court in a case in which some members of the Convention Peoples' Party (CPP) had in their personal capacities challenged the sale of the now defunct Ghana Telecom to Vodafone International Holdings BV of the United Kingdom (UK), indicated that amendments made to the original Sales and Purchase Agreement (SPA) of the telecommunication company had not received Parliamentary approval. Mr. Issah Yahaya, Director of Policy Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation at the Ministry of Communication, in his evidence noted that apart from the original SPA, which was approved by Parliament on July 3, 2008, there had been three subsequent amendments to the agreement, dated July 21, 2008; August 13, 2008 and August 16, 2008; which arose after the mandatory parliamentary approval exercise. The evidence of the witness, who was a member of the Inter-Ministerial Committee, charged to investigate the circumstance of the sale of the national asset also showed some anomalies in signatories to the SPA, as signatories to the original SPA were different from those appended to the supplemental agreements that were developed. Additionally, Mr. Yahaya informed the court that the Inter-Ministerial Committee during its work received information from the Ministry of Finance, National Communication Authority (NCA) and Vodafone, with Hon. P.C. Ofori, Member of Parliament (MP) for Asikuma- Odoben-Brakwa making allegations of possible bribery of MPs, when the SPA was brought to the law-making body for ratification. It was also the view of the witness that the Inter-Ministerial Committee report justified the inclusion of the national fibre-optic cable to the sale of the national telecommunication company, so that Vodafone International could develop a nationwide communications back-bone. Witness was also denied knowledge of the existence of different other versions of the SPA, apart from the one provided to the committee for their perusal, adding that Vodafone did not pay the Government of Ghana for its 3G license acquired, since it was inclusive in the $900Million paid for Ghana Telecom. The case was adjourned to today, June 26, this year, for continuation. Plaintiffs, led by Professor Agyeman Badu Akosa, 2008 Presidential Aspirant of the party, initiated action against Government of Ghana and Vodafone Ghana in October 2008. Other plaintiffs in the case include Michael Kosi Dedey, Dr. Nii Moi Thompson, Naa Kordai Assimeh, Ms.Rhodaline Imoro Ayarna and Kwame Jantuah. Plaintiffs are challenging the manner in which an agreement was entered into by the Government of Ghana in 2008, resulting in the offloading 70% of its shares in the defunct Ghana Telecom (GT) for $900 million. According to them the agreement entered into was not in accordance with due process of the law and therefore a nullity. It is the view of all six plaintiffs in the case that the sale and purchase agreement entered into by the Government of Ghana through Ghana Telecom (GT) and Vodafone for the sale of 70 per cent of GT for 900 million dollars was against public interest and constituted an abuse of the discretionary powers of the government. According to the plaintiffs, the decision by the government to transfer the assets, property shares, equipment among others, to Vodafone was obnoxious, unlawful and inimical to public interest, particularly, when no compensation was required from Vodafone for the stated assets. They, therefore, submitted that the three Ministers of State and the Managing Director of GT, who signed the agreement on behalf of the government, did not exercise the level of circumspection required of them as public officers, in relation to public property. The plaintiffs are seeking reliefs from the court, including a declaration that the agreement entered into by the government was not in accordance with the due process of the law and was, therefore, nullity. Plaintiffs are further praying the court to give an order declaring that the forcible grouping of autonomous state institutions established by law, being Voltacom, Fibreco, VRA, Fibre Network and VRA Fibre Assets with GT to form the purported Enlarged GT Group was unlawful and therefore, void and of no legal effect. Addintionally, plaintiffs are requesting for an order of perpetual injunction to restrain the government from disposing of the 70 per cent share of GT to Vodafone or any other foreign company, without first exploring other avenues for funding and better management in Ghana. The Government of Ghana, on July 3, 2008, signed a Sale and Purchase Agreement with Vodafone to sell off 70% of the former's stake in GT to the latter, at an approximate value of US$1.3 billion, plus a cash injection of US$500 million, totaling US$1.8 billion. The Sale and Purchase Agreement was consequently ratified by the Parliament of Ghana on August 14, 2008, giving its full backing to the agreement entered into.
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