Parliament, yesterday gave meaning to the protection of public purse by rejecting the approval of the supply contract for the Dedicated Security Information System being implemented by the Ministry of Communications.
Not even the intervention of the sector minister, Dr. Edward Omane-Boamah, could convince the law makers to change their position, especially, at the time there is a public outcry against the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) and Subah Infosolutions contract.
The Dedicated Security Information System was under the Global Open Trunking Architecture (GOTA), which was piloted in 2007 to provide high speed data service, with applications such as chip scan, finger scan, GPS, and mobile office to boost the capacity of the police, army and other security institutions in discharging their duties.
A document sighted by The Chronicle indicated that the first phase of the system had been deployed in 2007 to the Southern part of Ghana, namely Greater Accra, Central, Western, Eastern, Volta and Ashanti regions.
The document was prepared by the select committees in parliament on Communications, Defence and Interior. Brought to the august House yesterday was the second phase, which was to be distributed to the Northern part of Ghana, Upper East, Upper West, Brong Ahafo and Northern regions.
The purpose of the system, as stated in the document, would, among other things, enhance a country-wide reaction time to emergencies, reduce the cost of government communication, and provide a common communication platform for all Ministries, Departments and Agencies down to the district level.
But the law makers, in consensus, refused to approve the contract, as they noted that the whole contract was not in favour of mother Ghana.
The first to raise an objection was the Ranking Member of the Communication Committee, Kennedy Agyapong, who said: “Mr. Speaker, this contract does not in any way favour Ghana, we are to pay for everything, and the suppliers take up no cost at all.”
According to him, the attention of the supplier’s lawyer was drawn to the issue at the committee meeting, and he promised to look at it and write back to them, but that was not done. Agyapong did not, therefore, understand why the House should approve the contract.
The Member of Parliament (MP) for Sekondi, Papa Owusu Ankomah, on his part, argued that even the committee, in its report, admitted there were reservations about the contract, referring to clause 7 of the report, which states: “The committee observed that the indemnification of the contract does not in any way favour the purchaser (government of Ghana).”
Papa Owusu Ankomay added: “And you are asking Parliament to approve this, the committee should have taken a definite decision and advice the Minister that the House cannot approve this. We must bear in mind that what is supposed to be done is done.”
The Minister for Trade and Industry, Haruna Iddrisu, on his part, said there was the need for Ghana to improve upon her security, but was quick to add that he would only associate himself with the approval, if the committee assured them (Parliament) of further diligence and value for money.
But, in an attempt to get the House to side with the Minister, the Chairman of the Committee on Defence and Interior, George Kofi Arthur, disclosed that the company to supply the information system, ZTE China, was a credible entity.
“In 2006, the 2009 flagbearer of the New Patriotic Party, Nana Addo Akufo-Addo, signed a contract with ZTE China,” he said.
At this junction, the Minister, Dr. Omane Boamah, pleaded with the august house to approve the contract, as he promised to go back and work on it.
“I am pleading with the House to approve the contract for now. We don’t have a problem, even if it will be a conditional approval,” he said.
But, Joe Osei Owusu, MP for the Bekwai Constituency, in a swift response, argued that the agreement, which Parliament was supposed to approve, had no clear obligations for the supplier, and that if there was a disagreement as to whether the supplier had done its work or not, there would be no guidelines to check from.
The Bekwai MP was also not happy that the indemnity, which the government had given to the supplier, went beyond the time limit set for the agreement.
“Even after the contractor has finished his work, he will still be holding Ghana’s indemnity, for what? So we are asking when the indemnity would end, and that is when Parliament would be satisfied.
This was heavily supported by the First Deputy Speaker, Barton Odro, who directed the sector minister to do due diligence on the whole contract in one week.
“In line with the criticisms raised with the indemnity clause, and the conclusion of the committee’s report, we want to assist the committee to clear their reservations. I so direct that this matter be stood down for a week,” he said.
Source: Fatima Adam/The Chronicle
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