Former Youth and Sports Minister, Elvis Afriyie Ankrah on Wednesday could not categorically state whether or not a contract between Ghana Youth Employment and Entrepreneurial Agency (GYEEDA) and waste management company, Zoomlion Ghana Limited passed government’s value-for-money audit.
Mr. Afriyie Ankrah said he could not take a decision to discontinue the contract because the 5-member committee he instituted to conduct value for money audit into the contract between GYEEDA and the waste management company, hinted him of a possible legal problem and directed his Ministry to seek advice from the Attorney-General.
A report by a committee set up by him raised serious value for money issues with aspects of the contract which saw GYEEDA pay GHȻ500 to Zoomlion per each street sweeper while the waste management company paid only GHȻ100 to beneficiaries recruited under the Sanitation Module of the programme and kept the remaining GHȻ400 as a management fee.
The committee’s findings revealed “significant windfall profits” that Zoomlion, an affiliate of the JOSPONG Group, was making at the expense of the state.
“In the schedule that Zoomlion provided, Zoomlion suggests that at a management fee rate of GHS400, it is making a loss of circa GHS18 per beneficiary. Aside being illogical, this claim is also inaccurate and deceptive.”
Mr. Afriyie Ankrah headed the Youth and Sports Ministry between February 2013 and July 2014, a period when the National Democratic Congress (NDC), which prides itself as a socialist party, was in government led by John Mahama.
Responding to questions posed by Joy FM’s Super Morning Show host Kojo Yankson as to why he did not terminate the contract after the committee found it didn’t pass the value for money test, Mr. Afriyie Ankrah said he acted based on advice from the Attorney-General to allow the contract to run until the end of 2015.
“The value for money committee including three lawyers tells me that let’s seek advice from the Attorney-General and the Attorney General said let it go on,” he argued.
Asked if he thought it was fair for the state to pay Zoomlion GHȻ500 only for it to pay a meagre GHȻ100 to those recruited to do the work including supporters of his own party, while managers pocketed GHȻ400, Afriyie Ankrah responded: “Absolutely not!”
“As a social democrat, absolutely not,” he affirmed.
For him to have a guide to correct this and other abnormalities identified in the contract, he set up the value for money committee, he maintained.
“It is because of all these things…I said let’s look at this whole thing comprehensively and then we take it from there.”
He explained , “…when you are a minister, and you enter an office, it takes you 3-6months to settle down to be able to understand all the nuisances in the issues and all the complexities.”
“So when I got in and I began to see all the problems, then I reported to the president, then we set up the committee and then the committee started working. There so many issues that we were dealing with.”
He said it was during the committee’s work “that I even got to know about the details of the contract.”
“Things were not clear, no proper documentation, no data and no institutional structure…What I saw there was chaos…”