The Committee for Joint Action (CJA); a pressure group, has called on the government to abrogate the sale and purchase agreement and take back Ghana Telecom (GT) from Vodafone.

It argued that the sale of GT was not in the national interest, because of the various illegalities and malpractice associated with the deal, adding that while Ghanaians were made to believe that the deal was with Vodafone UK, Parliament was made to sign the agreement with Vodafone Holland.

Mr Kwesi Adu, a leading member of the CJA, who stated this at a press conference in Accra yesterday, noted that the sale of GT to Vodafone is one more example of wanton recklessness and arrogant self-dealing that we have come to know of our, governments”.

He said the deal was driven by greed, private profiteering and apparent corruption.

“These motives explain the apparent naivety that was, displayed at every turn by the NPP government in the sale and purchase agreement with Vodafone,” he said.

Explaining the reasons for which the committee was calling for the abrogation of the contract, Mr Adu said it was appalling that, former President J. A. Kufuor personally negotiated aspects of the deal without any technical knowledge and without the involvement of the Divestiture Implementation Committee.

“An action which has resulted in the handing over of GT as a gift to Vodafone. We dare ask what factors influenced former President Kufuor to sell GT at a giveaway price. We are also con¬founded that former President Kufuor broke all the rules by refusing to go through due process,” Mr Adu said.

He said President Kufuor refused a higher price from another company and went for a lower price from Vodafone and hastily agreed to the sale of Ghana Telecom to Vodafone within 24 hours of their offer, accepted the indemnity clauses in the agreement which were in violation of Ghanaian laws and undermined the principle of probity and accountability.”

Mr Adu said President Kufuor also attended one of the negotiations with Vodafone in the company of only the deputy British High Commissioner on his side.

He said in its over-zealousness to sell GT, the Kufuor administration granted Vodafone exemption from import duties on capital items for three years and withholding tax on interest payment contrary to Ghana’s laws on capitalisation under the provisions of Act 592.

Mr Adu said Vodafone was also exempted from paying corporate tax for three years, a situation which represented a loss in revenue to the government at the rate of 25 percent of Vodafone’s net profit and was also offered higher immigration quota which allowed Vodafone to bring in 32 foreign staff, contrary to Ghana’s immigration rules which allowed only four expatriate staff.

Vodafone, he said, was again offered non-payment of stamp capital duty on the sale of GT landed properties by Vodafone.

“The CJA finds it distressing that the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government under President Kufuor accepted that Vodafone could even pay bribes amounting to $10,000 (deceptively described as charitable donations) to ease the way for the illegal transfer of a strategic national assets, “Mr Adu added”.

He said the handing over of Ghana’s fibre optic backbone to Vodafone effectively denied state institutions like SSNIT and Ghana Post access to a vital national asset they had helped to develop.

“We find it amazing that while one competitor offered $947 mil¬lion or 66.7 per cent shares for GT, the Kufuor government opted to sell GT to Vodafone, which had offered only “$900 million for 7O per cent shares”.

What is worse, Kufuor surrendered our multimillion and strategically important fibre optic backbone and the GT University for free,” he added.

He said the CJA also found it unacceptable that Vodafone claimed to have paid $61 million of the GT debt to Huawei Tech Investment Cp Limited of Hong Kong when in reality they had paid $37 million and that this pointed to a situation in which in less than one year of the sale of the GT, the majority shareholders were using subterfuge and misrepresentation to swindle Ghana.

Mr Kwesi Pratt Jnr, a leading member of the committee said, almost all the state owned enterprises divested had never benefited the people of Ghana and urged the government to abrogate the agreement, which he described as stinking “and was done with extreme foolishness”.

Source: Daily Graphic

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