Who knew? July, the fifth month in the original Latin calendar, was apparently named after Emperor Julius Caesar. It is off to a roaring start. In Akan, the language spoken by the majority of people in the Republic of Ghana, the traditional calendar is called Asranna. It covers all ritual activities. For the Akyem's, a distinct group within the Akan, July, is known as Kitawonsa. It begins with Akwasidae, the cleansing of scared stools.
If you are not into exploring ancestral vibes, you could subscribe to western zodiac signs. If so, then July is the month of the ruby stone, a symbol of contentment. Fascinating stuff. My only child was born in July, as was a brother and 2 nephews. Their birth flower is apparently the Water Lily. Who knew?
It has come home
In the world of hard knocks, England was dispatched out of the World Cup. And, by July 25th, 2018, Tullow Oil plc, the UK registered and listed Group, the sole shareholder of its subsidiary, Tullow Ghana Limited, must provide its half-year results.
Group Head of Communications and Company Spokesperson, George Cazenove, said, "we built up debt on her activities as well - but a significant percentage would be attributable to Ten. At Ten first oil in August 2016, we had debts of $5 billion and had spent over $2 billion on Ten. Our debt has fallen since then thanks to strong production - mostly from Ghana - and a rights issue in early 2017."
Also, in Kitawonsa, an English Commercial Court found, that in 2016, Tullow scored what was essentially a preemptive own goal. Ahead of the determination of an international maritime border dispute between Ghana and Core d'Ivoire (Ghana won, of course), by invoking force majeure provisions to terminate a contract with Seadrill Ghana Operations, Group and Tullow Ghana erred. Group and presumably its wholly owned subsidiary, are now required to pay up $254 million in compensation to Seadrill.
No panic. Group quite rightly, signalled in their legally required Trading Statement, a potential exposure of some $130 million. On the announcement of the court ruling, the share price fell by 4 percent and it rallied. What keen observers will be watching are 3 things. Will Tullow appeal and ask for a stay of execution on the ruling? If they appeal, will this be granted, possibly on terms that they pay none or part of the $254 million? If they should appeal, will it be dismissed outright and thus a full payout of $254 million, above the $130 million predicted exposure?
Observers will also be watching closely if Tullow will react to the looming payout by downsizing to focus on its core business? Producing oil, efficiently and as environmentally and legally required and as culturally friendly as possible. Should there be cuts for instance to staff, will the regulator in Ghana, the Petroleum Commission - they have taken up belated and welcome cudgels to ensure the requirements of mandatory Local Content provisions - look closely at how this is implemented?
The upstream oil and gas industry is new to Ghana, experience, health and safety and quality standards are sacrosanct. Finding that balance between local and global, therein, lies the Ruby.
July has roared, on many levels. The death of the former Vice President Paa Kwesi Amissah-Arthur has been followed by another. Mr. J.H. Mensah, was the Finance Minister in the Second Republic. His Deputy then, was Okyenhene Ba, Dr. Akwasi Jones Ofori Atta. J.H. Mensah has died. Amongst many achievements, he was also Senior Minister during the administration of former President John Agyekum Kufuor.
Tradition, history and process are interesting. Before Parliament rises in Kitawonsa, this Minister of Finance (MoF) in Ghana, Ken Ofori-Atta, is required to present himself to House with a mid-year review. According to IMANI Center for Policy and Education, the focus of a pre Parliamentary meeting with civil society focused on taxation went well.
The Founding President and Chief Executive Officer of Imani, a certain Franklin Cudjoe, writes: 'Ideas on less burdensome and fairer revenue mobilisation strategies and efficient spending dominated the discussion. Cutting waste and targeted spending were unanimously advocated. Thinks Tanks present made their input without let or hindrance.'
After a long silence, the previous Deputy and then substantive Minister of Finance, one Seth Terkper, has resurfaced. Recently, he has challenged this (MoF) to provide the proof and basis for the laying of some ¢7 billion of allegedly stealth legacy debts at the feet of the previous government and essentially, on his watch. Even if he was reduced, alongside the historic one-term former President, John Dramini Mahama, Mr Terkper had at some point, respected form. He must be addressed.
Word is that this Minister is likely to answer his predecessor in his much-awaited address to Parliament. Will Mr Ofori-Atta, in tracing back the legacy debts this government insists it has inherited, make a definitive stand? To balance out old debts, keep the lights on and maintain fiscal discipline, will we face now, the reality of the re-introduction of an increase in VAT or other taxes? Kitawonsa. The school of hard knocks is in session.
There are apparently up to 600,000 Ghanaians sitting on the public payroll in this 4th Republic. A significant coincidence. In the week before the MoF brings down the curtain on spending and ups it efforts on revenue generation, the Auditor General (AudG), a certain Daniel Yaw Domelevo, has laid up to 5 statutory reports before Parliament.
I should be afraid - I am not - to address the findings of the 2017 report on the Consolidated Fund. Except I am on deadline, the reports should be online and I cant access them
The last time I quoted the AudG, verbatim, from his published 2016 report, in my Wednesday column (published in the Daily Graphic newspaper and titled 'The Long Goodbye'), one ACP K.K. Amoah, Acting Director of the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) took offense. ACP pointed out, that in spite of/subsequent to the AudG publishing that EOCO had withheld funds it had gallantly retrieved, said published information from the Auditor General, which EOCO had not previously publicly disputed, is as ACP now holds, inaccurate. Who knew?
This Domelevo person apart from publishing reports that I will quote from (when I can access them), ACP notwithstanding, has also been seen out and about, consorting with the Special Prosecutor, one Martin Amidu. Together, they are threatening in Kitawonsa, a long-awaited audit, what is new? Removing 'ghost names' from the payroll and a declaration to surcharge departments and individuals who are found complicit is par for the course. What could be new news, is that the duo is now threatening to advance in tandem to court, on those who use the government payroll to reward themselves with our Rubies. Knock Knock. Aye ka!
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