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West Blue Deal Is Another ‘Create, Loot And Share’   
 
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15-Jul-2015  
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Some highly placed sources within the maritime and port industry have described the decision by the presidency to order the Minister of Finance to pick West Blue Ltd to implement the multi-million dollar National Single Window and Risk Management System at the ports as “another avenue for the Mahama inner caucus to ‘create, loot and share’ the nation’s resources.”

The five-year deal handed by the Presidency to West Blue is estimated to be worth an average of $45 million a year, as the company will be paid a percentage of the assessed value of all imports.

Between the decade of 2004 and 2014 alone, the total value of assessed imports that have come through Ghana’s ports is $70 billion.

West Blue and its directors and promoters, therefore, stand to earn a lot of money and the entire deal, per our checks, was done without any serious input from the sector Minister, who is considered as an ‘outsider’.

Insiders say “the special interest shown by the presidency in the award of the contract and its subsequent order to the Finance Minister to award it to a crony of the president through sole sourcing should be enough to tell us all that this is just another ‘create, look and share’ transaction spearheaded by the presidency.”

Gabby Asare Otchere-Darko, former Executive Director of the Danquah Institute, is imputing criminality in the contract awarded by the presidency.

During one of his recent appearances on Joy FM’s Newsfile, Gabby, copiously quoting portions of the Procurement Law, said the presidency had breached the law in appointing West Blue to takeover operations under a national single window.

"Act 663, of 2003, states in part that an entity may engage in single source procurement with the approval of the board: (a) where goods, works or services are only available from a particular supplier; (b) where there is an urgent need for the goods, works or service; and (c) where owing to a catastrophic event it is impractical to use other methods in procurement because of the time involved," he quoted the law as saying.

He argued that West Blue cannot be said to be the only company providing the services for which it had been contracted.

“Indeed the five DICs and GCNet are performing the same function so under what condition was West Blue sole sourced to provide the services at the ports?” he asked.

Mr Otchere-Darko further argued that before procurement can be sole sourced there has to be price quotations from a supplier or contractor.

He does not understand why the presidency can order the Finance Minister to give the contract to West Blue Ghana Limited, at all cost, when there had not been any price quotations.

Meanwhile, Michael Kweku Djan, a Tema based clearing agent, has filed a writ at the High Court challenging the legality of the controversial contract.

The plaintiff argues that the "directive given by the President through his Chief of Staff" for the award of the contract "is inconsistent and a flagrant breach" of the law laying down the conditions required to warrant a procurement entity to be engaged in a single-source procurement.

He also contends that West Blue cannot claim to be the only company with exclusive expertise in providing Single Window services for the ports, adding that all the five Destination Inspection Companies currently operating at the ports, whose contracts would not be renewed after August, had shown over their years of operation that they possess the practical expertise.

The plaintiff, among other things, is praying the High Court to make a declaration that "the single-sourcing of the National Single Window and Risk Management System Project in favour of West Blue Ghana Limited is a breach of Section 40 of the Public Procurement Act, 2003 (Act 663)."

He is also seeking for an interlocutory injunction to be placed on the deal pending the outcome of the substantive suit. The injunction application is expected to be moved Thursday, July 16, 2015.
 
 
Source: The New Statesman
 
 

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