MP accuses Communications Ministry of taking over Finance Ministry’s job

Manhyia South MP Matthew Opoku Prempeh has accused the Communications Ministry of trying to usurp the revenue supervisory functions of the Finance Ministry in relation to the collection of revenue from telecos.

The MP also known as Napo pointed out that there is a turfwar between the Finance ministry and Communications ministry in the revenue supervisory work of a multi-million dollar Interconnect Clearing House contract awarded to Afriwave.

He drew attention to a Finance Minister letter dated December 2015 and addressed to the Communications minister, Edward Omane Boamah in which the Finance Minister expressed misgivings about the perceived intrusion.

Napo on Joy FM’s Super Morning Show Monday said, no matter the supervisory work the Communications does, it will still need officials of the Ghana Revenue Authority to supervise the revenue collection.

The award of the revenue collection contract to Afriwave has been riddled with controversy. Questions have been raised not only about the procedure used to award the contract but also whether the whole process was backed by law.

While IMANI president Franklin Cudjoe has been dwelling on the right procedure, Napo has been barking about the violation of the law in not seeking legal backing for the government policy.

Franklin Cudjoe

‘The procedure was wrong’ IMANI fights Communications Ministry, NCA

IMANI’s has been stressing that the award to Afriwave was fraudulent because Afriwave was awarded marks over and beyond the maximum points.

In a report IMANI obtained a source within the Evaluation Committee and leaked to the media, several errors were highlighted in the award process.

The National Communications Authority (NCA), an agency under the Communications ministry, has however debunked the claim by IMANI stating that the report is false, doctored and a draft.

But it took at least six days for NCA to produce it report on the Authority’s website. A copy presented by deputy Communications minister Felix Kwakye Ofosu on Joy FM’s Newsfile Saturday which was to be the authentic report was not signed by the Director-General of NCA.

But Felix Kwakye Ofosu says the D-G’s signature is not necessary in authenticating the report because it was signed by the committee members who did the evaluation of the award.

He explained that it is normal procedure that an evaluation report of a tender should not bare the signature of the Chief Executive.  He said there is no column or marks showing the need for the Director-General’s signature.

Felix Kwakye Ofosu the onus is now on Franklin Cudjoe to prove that his report was genuine copy.

It has taken over a year to publish the report of the evaluation committee. But the deputy minister maintained, it is not normal practice to publish evaluation reports of a tender process.

‘The law was breached’; Matthew Opoku Prempeh digs into Afriwave controversy

Taking the controversy a notch higher, the Manhyia South MP has stuck a knife into government for failing to secure legal backing in the Interconnect Clearing House controversy.

He said a law exists to govern the policy for interconnect clearing house. Although the Communications ministry in August 2014 caused Cabinet to change the policy, government has not caused a change in law.

“As soon as the they Cabinet approval for policy change, they proceeded to award a contract and 11 months after they award a contract they are going back to the same Cabinet to seek power to come and do the change”.

The lawmaker said Afriwave has not been able to go to the telecos to implement the contract a whole year after it was granted a license because there is no law backing the award.

“So what was the rush to award the contract when you didn’t have legislation? Matthew Opoku Prempeh lampooned. Government has gone to sea and caught monkeys, he quoted a proverb.

The Manhyia South MP referred to a past controversy to explain the present controversy. He recalled that when the NPP government began a youth employment program, NYEP, on a pilot basis, the NDC government which took over screamed that the program had no legal backing.

“They shouted that we did NYEP like somebody selling tomatoes [on table tops] because it had no legal backing. Now why would this same people, Omane Boamah and Felix be championing that has no legislative basis?”.

In a relentless critique, Matthew Opoku Prempeh also condemned Communications minister for trying to take over the Finance Ministry’s job.

He said by law, it is only the Finance Ministry which is charged to supervise the collection of levies, charges and fees through the Ghana Revenue Authority.

Picking out an example of right constitutional procedure, Matthew Opoku Prempeh said, recently a new Energy service Tax approved by Parliament.

“It didn’t come through the Minister of Petroleum of the Ministry of Power. It came through the Finance Ministry because that is what the constitution says”.

Yet in the case of ICH, Communications Ministry is fronting changes in the law, Napo noted. He said the Communications ministry cannot do the ICH work without the Finance ministry.

“That is why Customs people still will have to go there, RS people will have to go there. VRA people will have to go there because Ministry of Communications cannot do that job”.

In reaction, the deputy Communications minister admitted the ministry is seeking amendments in the law to allow Afriwave to operate.

But he insisted, there is enough legal backing covering the operations of the Interconnect Clearing House.

We believe that what we did had legal basis. It is true we are seeking further amendment but it is out of the abundance of caution rather than an admission that we have been wrong”

He rejected the lawmaker’s claim that the Finance Ministry’s powers are being usurped. Kwakye Ofosu explained that the collection of revenue by Afriwave is only one of 14 different functions of the license granted to the company.

“It is not accurate to say we have taken it over. We are offering a broad range of service that includes revenue assurance. No we disagree with that assertion that it is somebody else’s job. We are not taking over anybody’s job”, the deputy minister took pains to stress.

He said there is nothing unusual about “inter-agency disagreement” and that any such conflict has been resolved.

“I can show you communications from the Finance Ministry in which they indicate agreement”, Felix Kwakye Ofosu said.

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