Ghana’s Parliament Divided Over AMERI as Abrogation Of Contract Looms
By Gilbert Borketey Boyefio
The controversy surrounding the Build, Own, Operate and Transfer (BOOT) agreement between the Government of Ghana and Africa and Middle East Resources Investment Group LLC (AMERI Energy) seems not to be ending anytime soon as Ghana’s Parliament rekindle the discussion on the matter with the minority members of the Mines and Energy Committee threatening not to participate in any deliberation concerning it.
The AMERI deal was for the installation of 10 GE TM2,500+ aero derivative gas turbines, operate, maintain, transfer and provision of support services, and was approved by the previous Parliament on March 20, 2015.The 300MW emergency power contract was secured by the John Mahama administration to fix severe power challenges at the time.
Following a publication by a Norwegian newspaper about the deal, it was condemned for its $510 million price tag as analysts say Ghana could have secured the same deal at $150 million less.
The AMERI deal was among some of the numerous contracts that the current government, whiles in opposition, expressed grave concerns about and indicated their intentions of revoking when they assume power because they described it as not being in the interest of Ghana.
The ruling government’s intentions was given impetus when in early August 2017, the Member of Parliament (MP) for Adansi Asokwa, Kwabena Tahir Hammond, moved an urgent motion for the House to rescind its decision for the approval of the controversial BOOT Agreement between AMERI and the government of Ghana by the previous Parliament, which was subsequently referred to the Mines and Energy Committee of Parliament by the Speaker.
However, the minority members of the Mines and Energy Committee, have decided upon careful consideration of the relevant facts, not to take part in the deliberations of the Committee in respect of the urgent motion filed by Hon. K.T Hammond requesting that the House rescinds the decision it gave in approving the Build, Own, Operate and Transfer (BOOT) agreement between the Government of Ghana and Africa and Middle East Resources Investment Group LLC (AMERI Energy) on grounds of gross misrepresentation.
According to the minority, “It must be noted that, though Parliament has a constitutional role in the approval of International Economic or Financial Agreements to which the Government is a party, Parliament becomes FUNCTUS OFFICIO after approving such agreements. Once approved, the agreements are now in the domain of the parties thereto which, in this case, the Executive Arm of Government and AMERI Energy. If there is anything untoward about the agreement, it is for the parties to say so and take the necessary action within the framework of the agreement to vindicate their rights and not for any other person”.
In a press release issued by Hon. Adam Mutawakilu, Member of Parliament for Damongo, and the Minority Spokesperson on Mines and Energy, the terms of the agreement contain dispute resolution mechanisms including resort to court action; and therefore urged Hon. K.T Hammond to make his evidence of gross misrepresentation available to the government which is a party to the agreement for the appropriate action to be taken.
He noted that the government has every right to review past contracts and to correct every wrong therein in the interest of the people of Ghana, but take the view that this must be done in the right way and through the right means and not through the subterfuge of a motion for rescission.
To Hon Mutawakilu, though the minority members of the Committee are ever ready and willing to listen to, enquire into and deliberate on any issue appropriately brought before the Committee, they do not “Want to be part of any bad precedent as far as parliamentary practice is concerned. Parliament as an arm of Government conducts its business on the dictates of the standing orders as stipulated under Article 110 (1) of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana. In other words, any action or move taken by any Member of the House has to be within the remit of the Constitution and the Standing Orders.
It is worthy to note that there is no part, section or rule of the Standing Orders that allows for a motion to be referred to a committee after it has been moved and seconded to without any deliberations by the House. This cannot be found in the current Standing Orders or any Standing Orders of the Parliament of Ghana since Independence.”
To them, Hon. K.T Hammond, who was not a party to the agreement is requesting Parliament to rescind its decision on the basis of gross misrepresentation and questioned his locus standi in this matter.