Ransford Yaw Gyampo, a professor of Political Science at the University of Ghana, has commented on the contentious auditing agreement that the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) and Strategic Mobilization Limited (SML) signed.
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has put the contract on hold and assigned KPMG to review the conditions.
Prof. Gyampo stated in a writing on the matter on Thursday, January 11, that the suspension decision demonstrates a basic lack of understanding regarding the work that SML does.
“Asking them to suspend, may mean telling them to turn off their auditing and monitoring meters on the petroleum pipes,” he wrote.
Find his write-up below:
In the matter of SML investigations, I think it is good and in the interest of Ghana that we are all alive to the issues raised and following them with keen interest. I must confess that, I didn’t fully understand the issues initially, so as a researcher, I had to research. Now, I have fully read the contract of SML and have personally gone to study it’s activities at its engine and control room.
If truly the deal is bad and saddled with corruption, let it be exposed and let it be dealt with. But what I witnessed in my study of the what SML does isn’t what has been reported. Perhaps, there is more to learn and once again, I am happy that we are following events with keen interest.
But as we follow what is going on, we must be careful not to be misinformed; we must be sure that the information that is churned out in the public domain isn’t half-truth; given the very technical nature of the operations of SML, we must be sure that we truly understand before we praise or criticize; and finally we must be sure that we aren’t being fooled into furthering the agenda of a few who support foreign thievery and exploitation and are envious of local initiatives.
Some have criticized the President for suspending the SML operations and asking KPMG to undertake an investigation. First of all, I think the suspension order itself betrays a fundamental ignorance about the work of SML. They have simply metered the pumping of fuel to be sure that the pervasive under-declaration, thievery and corruption are halted. Asking them to suspend, may mean telling them to turn off their auditing and monitoring meters on the petroleum pipes.
This could simply be a field day for those who have been stealing fuel through under-declaration of what is actually pumped into their tanks. We could have asked the system to continue, while being still investigated.
Still on the President’s suspension order and call for KPMG investigations, I would have loved to see KPMG decline the invitation, given the a-priori conception of conflict of interest and the suspicion that it may not do a good job. But are we not a double-standard people? At one point in time, we claim we have lost confidence in state institutions because of political manipulation and control of their activities. But today, we are arguing that they are independent and are suddenly not manipulable and can do an excellent job. Well, may this renewed view of our public institutions remain to strengthen their hands, so they can serve Ghana well.
I pray and hope that something good comes out of the KPMG investigations because, by all means, we must answer the question as to whether the SML operations are good for Ghana or not and this question cannot be fully answered by a one-sided view. Again, by all means, we must have a data to know the monies we were getting from our petroleum products before SML and after SML operations.
But while we wait for answers, two important issues must make us approach our judgment of the SML deal with caution and great trepidation. First, why were we told that a five year contract is a ten year contract? Was someone rushing to break the news or something actually changed? Secondly, how could any meaningful actuarial projection of 100 million USD annual profit be made about a performance based activity, that is yet to commence, without factoring the cost of investment, expenditure, operational and maintenance cost? How was the 100 million USD expected annual profit calculated without the GRA’s 31.5 percent tax and interest rate of 32 percent?
I commend all those Ghanaians who are fired up in ensuring that we seal the leakages and slippages in the system. For sure, we cannot continue to fetch water with basket and expect to succeed in our fight against the quagmires of poverty and under-development. In this regard, there’s absolutely nothing wrong in raising queries about the activities of SML and calling for investigations. But we must be sure of the motives of those of us leading the crusade.
It must only be the desire to gate-keep and fight corruption, else we would shoot ourselves in the foot by killing local initiatives and destroying what can potentially be beneficial to us as a nation.
PAV Ansah Street
Suro Nipa House
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