$50 million. Mr. Speaker, I beg your pardon. So I recommend that we should not only look for the money; it should be refunded as quickly as possible, and if need be, CP should be prosecuted.
Mr. Speaker, further investigations at the Committee indicate that the matter is pending before the International Court but it is taking too long and I am not comfortable with that.
Mr. Speaker, I also want to talk about the loan given by Sumitomo Corporation of Japan to Ghana Private Road Transport Union (GPRTU). Members of the GPRTU have not only used the facilities involved in the loan but they have failed to pay all the amount involved. I therefore think that they should not only pay the amount involved but they should be surcharged with the accrued interest thereon.
On that note, Mr. Speaker, I second the motion.
Deputy Minister for Finance and Economic Planning (Dr. A. Akoto Osei): Mr. Speaker, I rise to support the motion that is being debated at this moment. And in doing so bring Member's attention to a few paragraphs of the Report which
require our serious attention.
Mr. Speaker, in particular, I will look at page 9, paragraph 37, the section dealing with additional costs that the Government has had to pay because of delays by implementing agencies. This is one case of an amount that was paid as charges for delay simply because officials of a particular Ministry did not do simple things like writing the appropriate letters, and so forth. Mr. Speaker, if you multiply this amount through all the kinds of delays that have occurred in the Ministries, you can begin to imagine the type of costs that our taxpayer is beginning to bear because of the inefficiencies in the system.
What is worse, Mr. Speaker, is that at no time are the affected persons sanctioned; at least I am not aware of any. The typical excuse is to write to the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning to effect payment. Mr. Speaker, I think Members of this House should begin to look at these areas so that at least those parties who are responsible for committing such errors can be punished.
Mr. Speaker, you go further down to paragraph 39, and my senior Colleague mentioned it. This amount is not the only amount. This is US$50 million that was paid every month from January 1,2000 till December 31 2000 to an account in Leicentone. Mr. Speaker, we are spending a lot of money, as I speak, by hiring a law firm in New York to defend the Government because Construction Pioneers (CP) had filed a case in the State of New York to the tune of almost US$100 million against the Government of Ghana. The Bank of Ghana claims, Mr. Speaker, in the next paragraph that their task is to use certificates to effect payment. In this case, it is false.
Mr. Speaker, we have a report that we
have been working on; my Chief Director has written to the appropriate agencies. There is clear violence, and from what our lawyers are telling us there were no certificates. These were contracts that did not exist but there was an agreement that said that because some earlier contracts had been suspended, we would add on to any work that you do and you simply submit an invoice for payment. But our system is such that no such payment can be made until instructions have come from the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning to the Controller and Accountant-General. In this case, every month, it just went religiously by one official in one Ministry without even the Minister's instructions.
Mr. Speaker, our system is very porous and we are working had to plug the loopholes. But this is one case which as I speak our Attorney-General and other parties are trying to settle amicably because in the London case it was looking like the international arbitration was loaded a bit against the Government of Ghana. Our own Jurist, Prof. S.K.B. Asante was the only dissenting view on that matter.
But the law firm that we have hired in New York, Mr. Speaker, has been able to save us a lot of money, but we have to pay them a lot of money. In fact, Mr. Speaker, this week we have received an invoice for over US$1.4 million just to defend ourselves against such malpractices.
Mr. Speaker, no one I am aware of has gone to jail yet for this matter. We are aware that CP completely disappeared from Ghana; they stopped their operations. Mr. Speaker, whether they are guilty or not the fact is that CP was a very big contractor in terms of contract works in Ghana and
for a long period of time because they, as it were, had a monopoly in a lot of areas, it brought a lot of delays in construction projects in Ghana.
As I speak, we have an address in Leicentone where some of the directors are supposed to be residing but it has been difficult to find them. Our Attorney- General and the Office of the Attorney- General, as I said, are vigorously pursuing this case and I hope that the Government would be saved some money.
At this point, I am unable to tell what has been put on the table but the initial request was for an amount of US$100 million. We are trying to do an offset because the interest charged on this amount was compounding at about 7.5 per cent, but those of the old Government were not attracting any interest. Mr. Speaker, I just want to draw this House's attention to these areas of our governance, which appear to be very porous, and I invite the House to look further into this, particularly the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).
Mr. Speaker, the last one, page 11, paragraph 50. Mr. Speaker, as I speak, we are engaging debt collectors and attorneys to try to collect these types of debt for us but this is the case also, as it were, where the controls were almost non-existent. It is said in the Report that the Controller and Accountant-General guaranteed. Mr. Speaker, the Controller and Accountant- General cannot guarantee without the instruction of the Minister. He is acting on behalf of the Minister.
So the Report should appropriately state: “On the directives of the Minister, the Controller and Accountant-General guarantees for the Government.” Mr. Speaker, this was 1995 prior to our elections in 1996. Anytime you call he GPRTU to pay a certain amount, they bring one cheque and then do not pay