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Galloper Price Bloated   
 
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05-Jul-2012  
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The rotten Hyundai Gallopers in another gargantuan ‘Woyomegate’
 
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Customs, Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS) documents available to Daily Guide show that the total cost of the controversial Hyundai Galloper cross-country vehicles has been inflated by the National Democratic Congress (NDC) government.

In the documents, the total cost of the entire Gallopers II vehicle barely exceeds $1million, contrasting sharply with the $17million figure being quoted by government officials.

The documents are part of inventories taken by CEPS in October 2004 on the Gallopers parked in its bonded warehouse number A/035 by African Automobile Limited (AAL).

In the documents, the total number of the Gallopers was originally 70 units, but one was taken out for unknown reasons.

“On 1st October, 2004, inventory was carried out in the Bonded Warehouse number A/035 and it was established that there were seventy (70) Hyundai Galloper II vehicles in the Bond. Out of the seventy (70) vehicles found in the bonded warehouse as at 1st October 2004, one more vehicle was ex-warehoused on 24th February, 2005,” stated the report attached to the inventory.

This figure contrasts with the 86 Gallopers announced to have been in contention by a Deputy Minister of Information, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa.

Also, the Cost, Insurance and Freight (CIF) of each unit were valued in March 2010 at $15,154 per unit. Collectively, the Gallopers (in 2010) were valued at approximately $1.05million or GH¢21.76 million as against $17million.

At the time, the US dollar was exchanging for GH¢1.44 on the interbank rates. This figure also widely contradicts the US $17million figure stated by Mr. Ablakwa.

Last week, the deputy minister announced in a state-run newspaper, Daily Graphic, that Ghana might incur a whopping $1.5billion judgment debt for an alleged negligence blamed on the previous New Patriotic Party (NPP) government.

According to him, even though the Gallopers were imported by the previous National Democratic Congress (NDC), when the NPP government assumed in 2001, it ignored outstanding contractual agreements between the government and AAL; hence incurring a one percent interest charge, monthly, on the vehicles, with accompanying demurrages.

Contract

While the Mills government estimates the outstanding cost at around $1.5billion, nobody has seen the contract between the Ghana government and the African Automobile Limited.

It appears that government spokespersons are rather acting for AAL instead of parroting the interest of the state since none of them including the deputy minister has been able to make the contract documents available, confirming speculations that the contract to supply the vehicles was a mere gentleman’s agreement.

Indeed, the CEPS documents gave a warning regarding the potential costs, but not close to the cost being announced by the NDC government. “Please note that the duty and taxes are subject to minor changes due to the weekly changes in the exchange rate provided by the Bank of Ghana,” it warned.

DAILY GUIDE sources at CEPS explained that from a total cost of GH¢21.76 million CIF value in 2010, there was no way the costs could have astronomically shot up to $17 million and consequently attracting a possible judgment debt of $1.5billion as being bandied about by officials in the Mills government.

DAILY GUIDE gathered that the vehicles were imported in the name of African Automobile Limited (AAL) and not in the name of Ghana government.

Sources at the CEPS said they found the situation strange; usually, vehicles ordered by the government were consigned to the government and not the companies importing them.

This implies that if there were any costs to be incurred on demurrage, AAL would have to bear the full responsibility of settling them, and not the government of Ghana

In any case, due to specific contractual disagreements between AAL and the Kufuor-led NPP government at the time, the vehicles were confined to various warehouses, accruing demurrages and other charges.

Barton-Odro’s Negotiation

In 2009, a committee headed by Ebo Barton-Odro, Deputy Attorney-General, was constituted to investigate the vehicles. The committee subsequently made certain recommendations, including the relocation of the Gallopers from the warehouses to the open air at the Institute of Local Government Studies (ILGS) when there was no plan to take delivery of them.

When contacted for details by Daily Guide yesterday, Mr Barton-Odro retorted about how journalists always tried to gatecrash sources when accessing information.

He said, “We were only trying to settle the case, but we were not able to settle it.”

Officials from the previous government strongly dismissed the claims, saying that the Mills government was plotting to use the Gallopers as one of its “trademark” judgment debt claims to siphon money from the national coffers.

According to former Local Government Minister under the Kufuor administration, Kwadwo Adjei-Darko, there was no contract between AAL and the government of Ghana necessitating government to negotiate such huge claims on the Gallopers.

On Wednesday, former Minister of Local Government in the previous NDC regime, Kwamena Ahwoi, issued a statement on the matter.

According to him, there was a binding contract between the Government of Ghana in 1999 to supply about 110 Gallopers valued at $3.322 million.

He claimed the unit price worked out to $30,200 each. “Hon Adjei-Darko’s statement that there was no documentation on the subject in the Ministry was clearly made out of ignorance,” he noted.

African Automobile Limited Silence

Amidst this back and forth exchanges, AAL has remained silent since the news broke last week.

A close look at the company shows that AAL is currently comatose.

Daily Guide gathered that the company had stopped its key dealership in Mitsubishi vehicles. It currently piggybacks on its sister company, Auto Plaza Limited, dealers in Hyundai cars.

The AAL had some brushes with the law in 2011. Mohammed Hajizi, the Chief Executive Officer of AAL, and two directors of the company, were put before an Accra Circuit Court for illegally connecting electricity for their company without paying bills.

They pleaded not guilty and were granted a GH¢80,000 bail.

The outcome of the case is so far unknown.
 
 
Source: Raphael Adeniran/d-gUIDE
 
 

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