Ursula, Franklin trade Bible verses over controversial $89m Kelni GVG contract

Ursula, Franklin trade Bible verses over controversial $89m Kelni GVG contract
Source: Ghana|myjoyonline.com|Edwin Appiah|edwin.appiah@myjoyonline.com
Date: 31-05-2018 Time: 08:05:57:pm
Ursula Owusu and Franklin Cudjoe

Bible verses have become the latest source of defence in the controversial government contract to authenticate the revenues telcos declare to government.

Communications minister Ursula Owusu-Ekuful quoted Exodus 32:26 to buttress the government's position that the deal is the "best we could have gotten".

"Then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, Who is on the Lord's side? let him come unto me. And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together unto him", her statement on the floor of Parliament Thursday read.

The tough-talking Communication minister employed melody, singing her way through a fiery defence of government's engagement of Kelni GVG to build operate and transfer a system that tracks the call traffic at the telcos.

This call traffic is used to calculate the taxes telcos pay to the government. But the government has been complaining it has no way of verifying if the taxes paid are accurate.

After two other companies Subah Infosolutions and Afriwave were paid a monthly amount of $2.6 million for no work done, the government has expressed confidence that Kelni GVG would do exceptional work for $1.49 million monthly.

The minister accused the telcos of hiding behind concerns about data privacy of their clients but observed the real intent is to frustrate government of Ghana from implementing its laws.

Ursula in Parliament

Lead opposition to the deal has come from policy think IMANI which has questioned the credibility of the contractor and value-for-money audit of the contract.

He has said Kelni GVG was stopped by a High court in Kenya while in Tanzania, the largest telecom company Vodacom has said Kelni GVG did no work.

They are being audited in Liberia and were chased out in Senegal, he went on. The Communications Minister has admitted Kelni GVG had problems in other countries but said telcos also have problems too.

She argued the challenges Kelni GVG has faced does not make it a fraudulent company.

Mr. Cudjoe wondered how the government would look at a company like MTN with suspicion which is listing on the Ghana Stock Exchange but trusts "faceless entity like Kelni GVG whose Directors are not known".

He has also argued government is chasing "ghost" money because it has not done a proper value for money audit to prove its suspicion against the telcos.

Franklin Cudjoe reported results of a government test on one of the performance targets of Kelni GVG which is to check SIMBOX fraud, a practice of making money by rerouting 'expensive' international calls to appear as 'cheap' local calls.

In the test which he said was done by government, 1,938 fraudulent calls were detected which saved the government at most only $22,000.

Franklin Cudjoe whose think-tank IMANI has rallied 25 civil society organisations said the sheer number of groups against the deal proves they "cannot be wrong".

He said if anything should be monitored, it should be Kelni GVG.

Franklin Cudjoe ended his arguments replying the minister with the Bible verse in Exodus 32:9 "And the Lord said unto Moses, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiffnecked people" and indicated the minister and the government are proving stubborn despite evidence he says proves the deal is bad.