RE: ALLOWANCES FOR BOARDS AND COUNCILS IN THE PUBLIC SERVICE

14th November 2018

The Honourable Minister
Ministry of Finance
Accra

Dear Sir,

RE: ALLOWANCES FOR BOARDS AND COUNCILS IN THE PUBLIC SERVICE

OccupyGhana® has noted with delight and approval Government’s directive to the Public Service through you, on the above-entitled matter, and dated 2nd November 2018, to streamline the basis for paying sitting allowances to members of state Boards, Authorities, Council, etc., and to ban the payment of monthly salaries/allowances to such persons. This ties in very much with our Press Statement dated 20th May 2018 that expressed deep concerns about such matters, and in which we called for the specific ban of such payments, among others.

While we applaud this all-important step towards reining in unjustified payment of monies, we respectfully want to bring to your attention certain wrong practices engaged in by members of such Boards for several years and which, if not checked alongside your directive, would completely erode its essence and violate its spirit.

First, with the primary aim of accumulating sitting allowances, certain Boards and Board Committees are known to meet several times in a month, even when the meetings are repetitive and meaningless. We are aware of Board and Board Committee meetings that are called without agenda, ostensibly just to review minutes of a previous meeting. Heads of such institutions and Board chairs have to be held responsible for unnecessary meetings and surcharged with any sitting allowances so paid.

Second, some Board and Board Committee members have essentially become parallel structures to those existing in the entities, and insist on undertaking work that would ordinarily be undertaken by employees of the entities. Some insist on, for instance, touring facilities or educating the public around Ghana. Even worse are the scandalous and ridiculous travel budgets presented for approval. It leaves very little to the imagination the real reason behind such ventures.

Third, you would have to take the additional step of cutting out expenses associated with the unfounded belief on the part of Board Members and members of Board Committees that they are entitled to training and conferences, especially abroad, at the expense of the tax payer. We believe that it is a person’s already existing experience and knowledge that gets that person to serve on a Board or Board Committee. That knowledge and experience are not to be acquired after appointment and at the expense of the tax payer. Thus, paying for the cost of training, costs of airfares, hotel expenses and per diem should be a thing of the past. Boards and Board Committees do not need members who are there to line their pockets with undeserved allowances, enjoy paid travel and enhance their personal curriculum vitae.

We reiterate a point we made in our Press Statement dated 20th May 2018 that no board member is entitled to monthly remuneration, an office, official accommodation, official vehicle, etc. To the extent that any such facilities have been, or are being, provided, they are unlawful.

These are only some of the things that have to be checked as part of your directive, if it is not to be defeated on the ground.

Yours, for God and Country,

 

OccupyGhana®

 

CC.

 

The Chief of Staff

Office of the President

Accra

 

The Chief Executive

State Enterprises Commission

Accra

OccupyGhana® Calls On Government To Immediately Address The Filth Engulfing The Country

OccupyGhana® Calls On Government To Immediately Address The Filth Engulfing The Country

1st MARCH 2018

OCCUPYGHANA® PRESS STATEMENT

OCCUPYGHANA® CALLS ON GOVERNMENT TO IMMEDIATELY ADDRESS THE FILTH ENGULFING THE COUNTRY 

OccupyGhana® has noted with concern the huge swathes of plastic and other solid and human waste engulfing our country, especially our capital. It is rapidly reaching an alarming state and photographs taken after the recent downpour in parts of Accra in the morning of Wednesday 14th February 2018 have thrown this looming and potentially disastrous health and security problem into sharp focus.

We have also been monitoring how the matter of sanitation is being addressed by Government and we are concerned about Government’s commitment to resolve it

It appears that in spite of the establishment of the new Ministry of Sanitation & Water Resources, little has been done to confront and remove the filth engulfing our country. The reality is that by the Local Governance Act, 2016 (Act 936) and its predecessor statute, issues of sanitation are to be handled by the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Authorities (MMDAs). There are also the provisions of the Community Water and Sanitation Agency Act, 1998 (Act 564), and the functions assigned to that Agency. This legislative dilemma is compounded by the Environmental Sanitation provisions under Part Five of the Public Health Act, 2012 (Act 851), falling within the remit of the Ministry of Health. We therefore have doubts as to what the Ministry will do and achieve when it technically has no legislative mandate to handle sanitation anywhere in the country, unless its role is to coordinate the activities of all the legislatively-mandated bodies on issues of sanitation.

We have taken note of the National Sanitation Campaign launched by the President in November 2017, which does not appear to have made any real impact in resolving the problem yet. Under this campaign, there were to be:

  1. Introduction of automated street sweepers.
  2. The formation of a National Sanitation Brigade.
  3. Appointment of Sanitation Marshalls and Deputies in Municipal and District Assemblies; these appointments were to have been made within one week of the announcement by the President.

None of these initiatives appear to have started, with no clear cut time frame on when and how the Ministry of Sanitation & Water Resources intends to roll out the program.

The President also indicated that he and the Minister for Monitoring & Evaluation would evaluate the performance of all Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs) and publish the results of their performance. We think that it would be very apt if the agreed Key Performance Indices used to evaluate them are published so that as Citizens we can monitor and score our MMDCEs on sanitation issues.

We also call upon our MMDAs and Ghana Police to rigidly enforce our laws regarding littering the environment, refuse disposal and open defecation, and charge and prosecute offenders. There are the specific provisions under sections 13(3) and 14 of the Local Governance Act, which empower them to enforce the provisions of section 296 (1) of the Criminal Offences Act, 1960 (Act 29) and section 56 the Public Health Act. These laws contain the penalties for breaches. We see no reason why the laws should not be strictly enforced and offenders punished. We urge the MMDAs and Ghana Police to enforce them without delay.

We urge the Government, acting through the MMDAs, to confront this menace before the impending rainy season, which comes with diseases such as cholera, a direct consequence of poor sanitation. OccupyGhana® is convinced that as a people we should ingrain the practice of keeping our surroundings clean on a continuous basis and not restrict it to periodic nationwide clean up exercises. To achieve this, the bodies tasked with sanitation responsibilities by law, must strictly apply our sanitation laws, carry out intensive and sustained public education and build a new positive attitude in our citizens toward caring for and protecting the environment. This must be done without any further delay.

We also urge Ghanaians to desist from littering the environment, refrain from disposing refuse improperly and stop the practice of open defecation. We must all strive as a people to live up to our dying national maxim: “Cleanliness is next to Godliness”.

The fight for a clean environment cannot be delayed further.

Let us Keep Ghana Clean!

OccupyGhana®

OccupyGhana on MenzGold Saga

OccupyGhana on MenzGold Saga

10th AUGUST, 2017

OCCUPYGHANA® PRESS STATEMENT

THE MENZGOLD CONTROVERSY – OCCUPYGHANA® DEMANDS ACTION FROM BANK OF GHANA, SECURITIES & EXCHANGE COMMISSION AND MINERALS COMMISSION

OccupyGhana® has read the news report of a statement allegedly made by the Second Deputy Governor of the Bank of Ghana, Dr. Johnson Asiamah, that the company called MenzGold is not licensed to conduct deposit-taking, and that although it is licensed by the Minerals Commission (MinCom) to trade in gold, it had deviated into accepting deposits from unsuspecting customers. Yet in the same story Dr. Asiamah admits that there does not appear to be evidence that MenzGold is flouting the law; but adds that the Bank decided to still notify the public that MenzGold is not to accept deposits.

That statement gives OccupyGhana® much cause for concern, stemming in part from MenzGold’s denying that it takes deposits, claiming that it is only engaged in the purchase and sale of gold. The Precious Minerals Marketing Company (PMMC)’s 2016 – Third Party Gold Export records show that in 2016, the PMMC exported gold on behalf of an entity called “MenzBanc,” for 6 out of the 12 months. The total weight of gold so exported was 3,217.834 ounces, with MenzBanc earning US$3,943,022.41 (GH¢15,742,662.18). These exports were to Dubai, South Korea and Hong Kong, according to the records, and placed MenzBanc among one of the smallest exporters of gold through the PMMC. When one contrasts the above facts with the fantastic interest rates (“dividends”) that MenzGold promises and pays to its customers or clients, it is critical for Ghanaians to know whether MenzGold is really only dealing in gold, and if so whether the current business model complies with the terms and conditions of its gold dealing licence, if any. Ghanaians deserve to know whether the underlying gold transactions can support the promised rates of return; if not, then we have another potentially serious issue on our hands.

Against the background of the recent financial ruin visited upon some Ghanaians by the DKM disaster, we are concerned whether the claim of dealing in gold is a guise for:

  • deposit-taking by a private company in breach of the Companies Act, 1963 (Act 179);
  • unlicensed deposit-taking in breach of the Banks and Specialised Deposit-Taking Institutions Act, 2016 (Act 930),;
  • unauthorised securities transactions in breach of the Securities Industry Act, 2016 (Act 929); or
  • worse still, a criminal ‘Pyramid’ or ‘Ponzi’ Scheme.

As ordinary Ghanaians, we are unable to make these determinations. The institutions authorised to determine whether MenzGold is involved in (un)authorised business are:

  • the Minerals Commission (MinCom), which licences dealers in gold, and is empowered by the Minerals Commission Act, 1993 (Act 450) to “monitor the operations of the bodies or establishments with responsibility for minerals;”
  • the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) which is empowered by Act 929 to maintain “surveillance over activities in securities to ensure orderly, fair and equitable dealings in securities;” and
  • the Bank of Ghana, which is entrusted by Act 930 with the “protection of depositors in the country through the regulation and supervision of financial institutions.”

It is for these reasons that OccupyGhana® is concerned that if MenzGold is engaged in illegal deposit-taking or worse, disguised as a gold trading/investment business, the Bank of Ghana does not appear to have exercised its powers under sections 20 to 22 of Act 930 at all. If MenzGold is breaching that Act then we expect the Bank to do more than issuing a warning statement. We expect the Bank to take the steps set out by law and apply the sanctions provided in the law for breaches, if any. However if the law has not been breached by MenzGold, and it is engaged in genuine business, then the Bank of Ghana’s statement is dangerous and has to potential to kill that business, unjustifiably.

OccupyGhana® does not need to remind the Bank of Ghana that Act 930 gives it immense powers with respect to deposit-taking and then prohibits anyone from accepting deposits from the general public or carrying on a deposit-taking business without the Bank’s licence.

OccupyGhana® does not have to remind the Bank of Ghana that where the Bank “has sufficient reason to believe that a person is transacting or carrying on a deposit-taking business or taking deposits in contravention” of the law, the Bank has the power to cause a full-scale forensic audit to be conducted of that business to first ascertain that that person is involved in the illegal activity, and then “close down the business of [that] person.”

The Bank of Ghana does not need any further reminder it that it is for good reason that the law empowers it, as part of this forensic audit, to demand the production of all books, instruct the freezing of assets, suspend the business, etc.

The Bank of Ghana must be aware of its power to ensure the refund of all monies obtained and profits accrued, the return of all assets acquired as a result of the illegal activity, and the payment of interest that may be owing to people. The law adds that a person who fails to do these is deemed to be bankrupt and that the Bank has the power to apply to court for the winding up and sequestration of the estate of that person.

Who needs to remind the Bank of Ghana that the above civil sanctions do not affect the person’s criminal liability for unauthorised deposit-taking, which includes fines and/or imprisonment between 2 and 4 years?

If the Bank of Ghana does not require any of the above reminders of the vast powers given to it by the people of Ghana to prevent (and protect us from) unauthorised deposit-taking, then it beggars belief that the Bank has not taken any action except to issue a mere press statement. What is worse, the Bank has not yet determined whether the law has been broken or not.

In this regard all of the Bank of Ghana, the SEC and the MinCom have failed Ghana, by neglecting to take any of the statutory steps to ascertain whether MenzGold is involved in any illegal business, and then take control of its activities to ensure an orderly dismantling of it, including ensuring that the actors are punished in accordance with the law. This inaction by the Bank, and the silence of both the SEC and MinCom, are shockingly unacceptable.

If on the other hand Menzgold is engaged in genuine business, then the Bank’s statement is injurious and has the potential of killing it unjustifiably, which act could trigger a huge run and rush for monies paid, potential tortious liability for the Bank and the dreaded “judgment debt” which, of course, would be met with taxpayer funds.

It is on the basis of the foregoing that OccupyGhana® is demanding of the Bank, SEC and MinCom that they exercise their statutory powers in this matter in order that the law might take its normal course if it has to. It is our expectation as citizens that the above-mentioned institutions will take the appropriate steps and promptly.

Yours in the service of God and Country,

OccupyGhana®

OccupyGhana® Supports Formation Of Ministerial Committee With An Expanded Mandate To Investigate All Sales Of Allegedly Contaminated Products By BOST

OccupyGhana® Supports Formation Of Ministerial Committee With An Expanded Mandate To Investigate All Sales Of Allegedly Contaminated Products By BOST

5th JULY, 2017

OCCUPYGHANA® PRESS STATEMENT

OCCUPYGHANA® SUPPORTS FORMATION OF MINISTERIAL COMMITTEE WITH AN EXPANDED MANDATE TO INVESTIGATE ALL SALES OF ALLEGEDLY CONTAMINATED PRODUCTS BY BOST

OccupyGhana® has been observing with keen interest, the matters and issues arising from the sale of some fuels by the Bulk Oil Storage & Transportation Company Ltd. (BOST), a company owned by the Republic of Ghana.

We were happy to wait for the results of the Ministerial Committee that was announced to investigate the matter, before making our comments public. That is why we want to place on record our objection to any person or institution trying to short-circuit, prejudge and prejudice the work of the Committee, even before it is formed.

Our attention has been drawn to what purports to be a report by the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI). The alleged report apparently attempts to absolve some key and critical actors in the matter. Had the alleged BNI Report simply set out facts that had come to its knowledge in the course of its investigations, OccupyGhana® would have had no quarrel with it. But, it appears that the BNI went further than that when it began to express opinions as to who is or is not culpable in the matter. We are vehemently opposed to that.

We insist that the work and the mandate of the Committee should continue, and that the alleged report at best be considered as one of the materials that the Committee may consider, and with liberty, based on evidence that it might recover, to agree or disagree with what is contained in the BNI Report.

We say these because this BNI Report is so deficient in several, material ways and leaves so many questions unanswered that it is difficult to agree with several of its opinions and conclusions.

Some of these questions are as follows:

  1. Who purchased and imported the product into Ghana, and from whom?
  2. How much was paid for it?
  3. Who was in charge of holding or storing the product until it was sold or otherwise disposed of?
  4. Under what circumstances and under whose control did the product become “contaminated”?
  5. Exactly how did the “contamination” happen?
  6. Exactly when did the “contamination” happen and/or when was it discovered?
  7. Was the product “contaminated” through negligence, criminal activity or any other illegal or wrongful act, and if so, who was responsible for it?
  8. Were there any remedial measures that could have been taken to “un-contaminate” or purify the product apart from selling it in the “contaminated” state, and if so were those measures feasible?
  9. Did BOST obtain the technical report that is a mandatory requirement for disposal of property under section 83(1) of the Public Procurement Act, 2003 (Act 663), and if so, who prepared that report and what did it say?
  10. Did BOST convene a Board of Survey to report on the product, and if so, did that Board recommend the best method of disposal of the product?
  11. Did the relevant BOST officer complete a Board of Survey Form, and if so, what did the Form say?
  12. Were the Board of Survey’s recommendations, if any, approved by the head of BOST, and if so, when?
  13. If the cause of the “contamination” was other than “wear and tear” (to the extent that this term may even be applicable to the product in question), what procedure was established by the Board of Survey for handling any losses, and to what extent was that procedure followed before the product was disposed of?
  14. Did the disposal of the product comply with the relevant portions of section 84 of Act 663, particularly by public tender to the highest bidder or by public auction, each being subject to reserve price?
  15. Which entities submitted bids or participated in the auction, and how much did each bid?
  16. Was due diligence conducted on those entities to, at the very least, ascertain (i) if they had been duly formed or incorporated, (ii) who were the human players behind those entities, and (iii) whether the entities are duly registered by the National Petroleum Authority to engage in that business?
  17. Was the Board of Directors of BOST involved in this transaction at all, and if so what do the relevant Board minutes say?
  18. If any of the provisions and procedures under Part VII of Act 663 were not followed, what steps are being taken to exact the civil and criminal sanctions prescribed by that Act for its breach?
  19. Has Ghana suffered any financial loss from this transaction, and if so, are there grounds to charge anyone with the offence of “causing financial loss”?

Any report on this matter, including the BNI Report, which does not raise or even answer any of these relevant legal questions is not worthy of any serious consideration. We fully expect that these, among several others, are what the Committee will deal with and address in the course of its investigations.

It is on these grounds that, first, we urge the Committee to be fully composed forthwith and for it to commence its work. Second, we will urge the Committee and its members (when constituted) to be independent, to be completely unfazed by any reports of any other institutions or persons, and to resist any attempts to allow such reports to influence its work. Third, we place on record our opposition to any attempt to restrict or limit the Committee’s mandate or terms of reference. Fourth, it is our considered opinion that the Committee’s mandate should be extended to cover and investigate all similar transactions that have occurred since BOST was formed.

OccupyGhana® wishes to state, in conclusion, that we expect the highest form of professionalism and respect to be given to Ghanaians, particularly by state institutions paid and supported with our tax monies to work for us and to protect our interest(s). We call on all, particularly state institutions and their employees, to always remember the duty that is placed on “every citizen” by Article 41(f) of the Constitution “to protect and preserve public property, and expose and combat misuse and waste of public funds and property.” We are all bound by this constitutional obligation in all such situations because, “it is not merely of some importance, but of fundamental importance that justice should not only be done, but should MANIFESTLY and UNDOUBTEDLY be seen to be done.”

Yours, in the perpetual Service of God & Country

OccupyGhana®

OCCUPYGHANA® MEETS WITH THE AUDITOR-GENERAL ON DISALLOWANCE AND SURCHARGE

OCCUPYGHANA® MEETS WITH THE AUDITOR-GENERAL ON DISALLOWANCE AND SURCHARGE

It will be recalled that after months of unproductive engagement with the Auditor-General’s Department and the Government with respect to the demand by OccupyGhana® for the exercise of the powers of Disallowance and Surcharge under article 187 of the Constitution, and sections 18 and 19 of the Audit Service Act, OccupyGhana® was compelled to file an action in the Supreme Court against the Government.

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My Cocoa Lamentations

On cocoa, we may never know the actual difference between how much we produce and how much and Côte d’Ivoire produces. This is because of the rampant unchecked (or uncheckable) borderless smuggling that takes place between us. Anas showed it to us. It’s arbitrage: whichever country pays more to farmers, wins the day.

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