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“The contract figure was in dollars and so from 2000 to now considering the fall of the dollar…all of these have contributed to the increase in the amount. Government pays 1% on the cars that were imported every month because we have been defaulting all these years…” says Managing Editor of the “Insight” newspaper, Kwesi Pratt Jnr,…
…as he attempts an explanation to the question of the legitimacy of the $1.5billion African Automobile Limited (AAL) is demanding from the Government of Ghana as judgment debt.
Reading copiously from the letter addressed to the then Minister of Local Gov’t and Rural Dev’t, Kwadwo Adjei-Darko, and authored by the NPP Member of Parliament for Abuakwa South, Samuel Atta Akyea on behalf of his client, AAL, in 2003 onPeaceFM’s flagship programme, “Kokrokoo”, the seasoned journalist disclosed that the prices of the cars, which was in dollars, ballooned because of certain clauses in the contract.
“The contract also included a term that in the event of the Ministry defaulting in the payment schedule, whatever amount is outstanding will attract an interest of 1% per month bearing in mind that the transaction was dollar-denominated,” Kwesi Pratt read from Atta Akyea’s letter.
According to AAL, in 1994, the Ministry ordered 110 Mitsubishi Pajeros from them. After the vehicles were put to good use for more than 5 years and due to the reliability of the vehicles and the quality after-sales service provided by AAL for all that period, the Ministry approached them to trade in the 110 Pajeros for brand new Galloper Station Wagons.
A Daily Graphic publication last Wednesday brought to the fore the issue of the imported Galloper vehicles which were ordered from AAL by the erstwhile NDC government in 1999 and delivered in 2001 for distribution to District Assemblies, but were allegedly abandoned by the NPP when it took power in 2001.
The NPP said there was no contract between government and AAL covering the importation of the vehicles and that the vehicles did not meet the specifications for Ghanaian roads as that time, amongst others.
According to the publication quoting the deputy information minister, after the NPP’s actions had led to rise in cost, the NPP turned around to accuse the NDC government of paying debts which they claimed were unjustified and revealed that the NDC government has engaged AAL in a dialogue with the aim of beating down their $1.5 billion claim on the 86 abandoned vehicles.
Mr Ablakwa claims the settlement negotiation with AAL is currently deadlocked, and added that the matter coming into the public domain was a result of the transparency in the governance system of the NDC.
Contributing to discussions on “Kokrokoo”, Kwesi Pratt said the NPP will be erring in their calculations to arrive at the actual amount or unit price of the vehicle involved in the transaction if it divides 17 million by the number of cars that were bought.
“I have worked on the Galloper issue since 2001…If you look at the agreement, they bought 110 (Mitsubishi) Pajeros from them (AAL) which were used for five years and then government decided to return them and trade it for 110 (brand new Gallopers Station Wagons) from the company. That was the agreement. The price of the vehicle that is being purported is false…what they do is that they divide 17million by 110; which is wrong…” he said.
Kwesi Pratt also touched on the substantive matter of the existence of a contract.
The Abuakwa South MP is reported to have stated that “There was no signed contract properly speaking” and he only “made inference of contract by conduct”.
He clarified that “A letter from a Lawyer is a claim; what we call a demand notice and it doesn’t end there. The one who the letter has been addressed to needs to interrogate the claims and make the appropriate response. Any serious government would subject the legitimacy of such claims to scrutiny, seek legal interpretation and advice, and challenge it in court.”
But the newspaper editor wondered how the NPP MP, who was counsel for AAL in 2003, could wrote a letter to the Ministry demanding compensation or payment for contract honoured if he did not believe in the claims of AAL.
“…I have read what Atta Akyei said and he claims his letter is not an agreement; nobody has said his letter is a contract or an agreement. What he said was that there was a contract…the question is: did he write that there was a contract or not? If he did, on what basis did he do that?” Kwesi Pratt quizzed.
Source: Rebecca Addo-Tetteh/Peacefmonline.com/Ghana
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