The $150m mystery: Three Ghana Gas helicopters missing?

The $150m mystery: Three Ghana Gas helicopters missing?
Source: Ghana||Kwaku Nti
Date: 23-05-2017 Time: 02:05:42:pm
File photo

The whereabouts of three choppers for which the government has paid $150m, to delivered to the Ghana Gas Company remains a mystery, the Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC) has revealed.

It is not known whether the helicopters have been delivered or are missing.

"I have asked about the helicopters but there are no answers forth coming” Dr Steve Manteaw who is a member of the committee said on Adom FM’s Morning Show, ‘Dwaso Nsem’ Tuesday.

According to him, the management of Ghana Gas at Atuabo in the Western Region expressed surprise about the purchase of the helicopters especially as there is no helipad there.

The PIAC revelation was corroborated by the Monitoring and Evaluation Minister, Dr Anthony Akoto Osei.

He said four out of seven helicopters purchased for the project have also broken down. The seven choppers also bought for $100million, a cost which the minister said were over-priced.

Akoto Osei said the helicopters could have been bought for $8m  not $25 million.

“The four (4) could have just cost the nation $32 million and not $100 million. Go to the Americas and we would get them for less instead of purchasing them at that expensive cost from China,” he fumed.

The four have broken down under two years after they were commissioned by President John Mahama in September 2015.

Additional loan facility, he said was sought from China to purchase the other three (3) helicopters for the gas project.

And these helicopters, Dr Steve Manteaw said cannot be traced and hence urged that persons who were mandated to ensure their procurement ought to be brought to book.

Cost of Ghana Gas Project and payment of taxes

Dr Steve Manteaw said the actual cost of the Ghana gas project which started in 2012 is unknown after $850m was initially earmarked for the project.

Monitoring and Evaluation Minister Dr Anthony Akoto-Osei said the loan application was not presented to Parliament despite opposition from the Minority in parliament.

With a change in government, the Minister said the new government can now hold its predecessor to greater accountability.

He vowed to get the former Energy Minister to appear before Parliament and answer questions about the project.

“Fortunately, the main characters in the Ghana Gas Project are still around and we can call them to come and clarify issues for us…I will demand in Parliament that they come and clarify issues on the award of contracts and others,” he added.

At the start of project, Dr. Manteaw said he went to the offices of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) in search of tax file of the project executors, Sinopec, but the documents couldn’t be traced either in Accra or the Western Region.

Research, he said showed that the company was given tax concession by Ghana Gas; an action which was against the Constitution as Parliament is the only body that can waive tax for foreign companies.

Interestingly, it was in 2016 that the Finance Ministry brought the tax file demanding that Sinopec should be exempted from tax.

Dr. Manteaw said it had to take diligence on his part to get GHC15m in taxes retrieved from Sinopec Gas Company.