Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Govt to engage private sector in distribution of power

The government is considering the prospect of engaging the private sector in the distribution of power in Ghana, a Deputy Minister of Energy in charge of Power, Mr John Jinapor, has said.
According to him, the move formed part of the processes for accessing the second compact of the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) which was signed by President John Mahama and the President of the United States of America (USA), Mr Barack Obama, in August, this year.
Mr Jinapor explained that engaging the private sector in the power distribution sub-sector would promote efficiency and reduce losses in the power distribution sector.
But a former Secretary at the Ministry of Power in New Delhi, Mr R. V. Shahi, has advised the government not to rush into privatising the power distribution sector.
Mr Shahi, who presided over the privatisation of New Delhi’s power sector told the Daily Graphic in an interview that “the Ghana government must make up its mind on whether or not it wants to fully privatise. There should be a road map and the government must do it progressively."
He said the government needed to exhibit will power and commitment in deciding whether or not to engage the private sector in power distribution.
“The government has no business engaging in retailing of power. You can privatise but do it progressively. Do not be over ambitious to privatise,” Mr Shahi said.

Rural electrification

In a separate interview with the paper, Mr Shahi said rural electrification involved huge capital investment and advised the government to consider subsidising that area, while a private investor should be tasked to cater for urban areas.
“The government should take part in rural electrification because no business will take a commercial loan for rural electrification which is an expensive venture,” Mr Sinha said.
He said the government also needed the political commitment to succeed in privatisation of the power distribution sector.

Mr Jinapor

Explaining the government’s position further to the Daily Graphic, Mr Jinapor said the government was not rushing into privatising the power distribution sector.
He said the government had the interest of consumers at heart and was only focused on ensuring the consumer had value for money.

Study Tour

Mr Jinapor is leading a delegation on a two-week study tour to India and Uganda to gather first hand information on the challenges and success stories of those countries with regard to private sector participation in the power sector.
The tour would enable the participants to better understand Private Sector Participation (PSP) models and to hear directly from electricity distribution utility management and staff, government agencies, regulatory bodies, Independent Power Producers (IPPs), industries, consumer groups, and financial institutions on the lessons learned, benefits and challenges of PSP in distribution.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Indian company to invest in electricity supply

An Indian power distribution company, TATA Power, has expressed interest in investing in Ghana’s power sector to provide reliable and affordable power.
“TATA Power is ready to put in a bid to either engage in consultancy arrangements with the government or engage in a public private partnership module or privatisation of the power distribution sector, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Executive Director of TATA Power New Delhi Distribution Limited (TPDDL), Mr Praveer Sinha, told the Daily Graphic in an interview in New Delhi.
Mr Sinha was speaking to the Daily Graphic after meeting with a 16-member delegation which is currently in New Delhi to study how different models worked out in the power distribution industry in New Delhi.
He said TATA Power had the technology and wealth of experience to provide Ghanaians with reliable and uninterrupted electricity supply, adding “We will provide quality conductors, meters and supply power 24/7 to the satisfaction of Ghanaians and businesses,” Mr Sinha said.
Individuals and businesses in Ghana are currently facing the problem of irratic power supply.
TPDDL’s capabilities
Mr Sinha told the Daily Graphic that TPDDL would revamp Ghana’s power distribution sector within one to three years if given the opportunity.
“We will inject a lot of capital expenditure,” he said and explained that TATA could not immediately state the exact amount it intended to invest until it had conducted an assessment of the country’s power distribution sector.
“TPDDL can assure Ghanaians of 99.5 per cent of uninterrupted power supply,” Mr Sinha added.
He said TPDDL was also into renewable sources of power, especially when it came to roof-top solar power generation.
The company has been operating in New Delhi for the past 12 years under a private partnership arrangement.
It has 59 per cent shares, with the Indian government holding 41 per cent shares.
Study Tour
The objective of the study tour is to expose participants to distribution utility long-term concession or partial privatisation models in other developing countries.
The tour would also take participants to Kampala, Uganda, to enable them to better understand Private Sector Participation (PSP) models.
Its objective is also to enable the participants receive first-hand information directly from electricity distribution utility management and staff, government agencies, regulatory bodies, Independent Power Producers (IPPs), industries, consumer groups, and financial institutions on the lessons learned, benefits and challenges of PSP in distribution.
A Deputy Minister of Energy and Petroleum, Mr John Jinapor, is leading the delegation which comprises representatives of Parliament, the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), Consumer Protection Agency, IMANI, the Ghana Trades Union Congress (TUC) and the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI).
 Areas being studied are the concession mode, partial privatisation mode, processes and institutional responsibilities (private sector versus government, public participation, legal and regulatory framework, performance monitoring, labour/union issues with reform, public information campaigns, subsidies/tariff issues and management agreements, among other issues.
The delegation has held series of meetings with players in New Delhi’s power distribution sector to seek first-hand information on how New Delhi, which once suffered power challenges, had succeeded in the long run.

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At the Woyome trial - Woyome Trial: Court orders 2 ministries to produce letter

 May 20, 2014 - page 16
 The Financial Division of the High Court Monday directed two ministries to produce a letter which challenged the Local Organising Committee (LOC) of CAN 2008’s proposal that a Chinese construction firm be allowed to partake in the bidding process for the stadia construction project.
By the directive, the ministries of Education and Sports are expected to produce the said letter which was alleged to have been signed by then Minister of Education and Sports, Mr Yaw Osafo-Maafo.
Counsel for businessman Alfred Agbesi Woyome, Mr Sarfo Buabeng, is expected to follow up on the search, get the letter and report back to the court on May 29, 2014.
According to the court, presided over by Mr Justice John Ajet-Nasam, its order was aimed at ensuring justice and fair trial.
The order followed a request put forward by Mr Buabeng after he withdrew a bid to tender the said letter through Woyome.
The withdrawal was due to an objection raised by a Chief State Attorney, Mrs Yvonne Attakorah-Obuobisa, who argued that the letter could not be admitted in evidence because it was ineligible and not signed.

The letter

Continuing with his evidence yesterday, Woyome told the court that Mr Osafo-Maafo signed the letter dated July 24, 2005, that informed the LOC that procurement procedures for the stadia construction could not be sidestepped.
According to Woyome, who was testifying in his GH¢51.2 million criminal case, Mr Osafo-Maafo called him to a meeting and informed him (Woyome) that his consortium had been selected for the construction of stadia for CAN 2008, and further urged him to see then Deputy Minister of Education and Sports, Mr O.B. Amoah, for more information.
He said he followed up to Mr Amoah’s office but Mr Amoah told him (Woyome) to hold on, without any explanation.
According to the accused person, he later gathered that the LOC had written to the Ministry of Education and Sports requesting that the proposal of the Shanghai Group of China be considered, although it had not participated in the bidding process which had been concluded.
He said he also learnt that Mr Osafo-Maafo had written back to the LOC indicating that the procurement process could not be circumvented.

Vanlare Dosoo Committee

Woyome took the court through the processes he went through to submit bidding documents on behalf of Vamed Engineering and Waterville.
He said Vamed Engineering transferred all rights for the stadium construction to Waterville, except hospital construction.
The accused person told the court that he appeared before the finance committee set up by Mr Osafo-Maafo to evaluate financial documents his consortium submitted for the bidding.
Aside that, the accused person stated that he also appeared before the Vanlare Dosoo Committee twice to explain certain issues, just like other bidders had done, and added that a concurrent approval was subsequently issued by the Central Review Tender Board (CRTB) for the award of contract to the Vamed and Waterville group, which he said the committee had “adjudged to have won the bid”.

Bridge financing

Explaining further, Woyome said the processes leading to the government guaranteeing the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) of the World Bank would have taken four monthswhich the committee said would delay the stadia construction project.
Based on that, the committee, he explained, asked if his consortium had an alternative financial arrangement to fill in the gap before the financial support from Banc Austria was ready.
“I presented the alternative arrangement which we termed ‘bridge financing’, which was arranged with a consortium of local banks. Merchant Bank was the lead bank,” Woyome pointed out.
According to him, the documents covering the bridge financing were given to the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning (MOFEP), but the government later approached the bank and accessed the money after it (government) had abrogated its contract with the consortium.
He said the government eventually used that money to finance the Accra, El-Wak and Kumasi stadia.
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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Court warns Woyome’s followers

The High Court judge hearing the GH¢51.2 million case involving businessman Alfred Agbesi Woyome has warned followers of the businessman to comport themselves while observing proceedings of the court.
Mr Justice John Ajet-Nasam said he would be forced to throw out recalcitrant observers or restrict the number of people who followed Woyome to court if the followers failed to heed his warning.
His comments followed a complaint by a Chief State Attorney, Mrs Yvonne Attakorah Obuobisa,  that some observers chuckled each time she posed a question to the businessman.
According to her, she had been experiencing that behaviour every time she cross-examined the accused person and felt she had to draw the court’s attention to it because it was getting out of hand.
She insisted that it was the duty of the court to protect lawyers because she was only doing her work.
Mrs Obuobisa is currently cross-examining Woyome, who has since completed his evidence-in-chief in the case in which he has been accused of putting in false claims to receive GH¢51.2 million from the state.
“I will walk you out”
Calming Mrs Obuobisa down, Justice Ajet-Nasam reminded Woyome’s followers that the prosecutor was fulfilling duties assigned her by the state.
Turning to observers in the public gallery, he said, “She is not an enemy of the accused. I will walk you out of the court if you misbehave in court.”
He then told Woyome to advise his followers to desist from heckling Mrs Obuobisa, to which he obliged.
The court ended proceedings after an hour’s sitting because the judge and lawyers could no longer endure the excessive heat as a result of a power outage.
Answering questions under cross-examination by Mrs Obuobisa, Woyome disagreed with an assertion that concurrent approval for a tender bid did not amount to an acceptance.
He said the Procurement Law clearly said immediately concurrent approval was issued, the ministry responsible shall contract the company to whom concurrent approval had been given.
Woyome’s beef was that the Central Tender Review Board (CTRB) gave concurrent approval to a company he represented to construct stadia for CAN 2008.
He argued that the Cabinet acted illegally when it cancelled the contract in 2005.
But the state’s position is that the government never gave him contract to warrant any claim of breach of contract.
Mrs Obuobisa said the concurrent approval from the government could not have been an acceptance of Banc Austria’s concurrent approval of a 1.1 billion euro facility.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Court turns down Woyome

Alfred Agbesi Woyome
Alfred Agbesi Woyome

A request by Alfred Agbesi Woyome, the businessman facing trial for fraud, for a meeting in camera with the trial judge was yesterday turned down.
Woyome in open court pleaded with the court to seek audience with Mr Justice John Ajet-Nasam in the presence of state prosecutors, but the judge, who was visibly surprised with the request, refused.
He advised the accused person, who is facing two counts of defrauding by false pretence and wilfully causing financial loss to the state, to relay his concerns to his lawyer in the presence of the prosecution.
Counsel for Woyome, Mr Sarfo Buabeng, was absent in court resulting in Mr David Annan standing in for him.
The request
Woyome had endured an hour of cross-examination from a Chief State Attorney, Mrs Yvonne Attakorah Obuobisa, and the lawyers were in the process of taking a date for the next hearing only for Woyome to raise his hands.
Asked what his problem was, he answered, “My Lord, I want to see you in the presence of the prosecution.”
Mr Justice Ajet-Nasam looked awed, quickly gathered his composure and told the accused person that it was wrong for him to make such a request.
He said such a request may send wrong signals.
Yentie obiaa
Another scene ensued when the trial judge spoke in parables after Mr Annan had expressed concern over the prosecution’s seeming long cross-examination of Woyome.
Mr Annan’s beef was that Mrs Obuobisa was repeating her questions which he thought was dragging the case on but the judge reminded him that the prosecution was doing its best in expediting the trial.
Mr Justice Ajet-Nasam said he was handling Woyome’s case as any ordinary case.
According to him, he had not received any instruction from the Chief Justice to handle the case on a daily basis like was done in the Presidential Election Petition.
“This is a normal case. There is no pressure from any quarter,” he stressed, and added, “Yentie obiaa,” which translates to mean he is adamant.
Hearing continues on Monday, November 10, 2014.
Earlier, Mrs Obuobisa revealed that Woyome wrote to a former Attorney-General requesting for the payment of $500,000 being extra cost he incurred.
She accordingly asked him what the money was meant for, but he denied and said that was a separate issue.
He said that claim had nothing to do with his petition, which had implored the then Attorney-General to pay him for expenditure he incurred while raising 1.1 billion euros from Banc Austria.
He also refuted the claim that he had made false representation to the effect that Vamed Engineering had won the contract for stadia construction for CAN 2008.
“I never made false representation in this case. The concurrent approval from the Central Tender Review Board constitutes an award of a contract, and that cannot be false representation,” Woyome said.
Mrs Obuobisa suggested to the accused person that the concurrent approval was never communicated to him by the tender board, but he insisted that the then Minister of Education and Sports gave him the approval.
Pressing further, Mrs Obuobisa reminded him that Mr Yaw Osafo-Maafo was on record to have said otherwise to which Woyome said “this is partly correct but by giving me the documents, he has communicated”.
Mrs Obuobisa: By August 22, 2005, it was not true when you stated to the Attorney-General that you had incurred a huge cost including partial construction cost.
Woyome: My Lord, this is incorrect. There was no claim on construction. I asked for professional fees for financial engineering in sourcing for funds from Banc Austria.
Mrs Obuobisa also accused Woyome of deliberately excluding the part where bidders for CAN 2008 were expected to operate on a turn-key basis in his petition, but he denied that assertion.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

National Service director faces high court

The GH¢86.9 million stealing case involving the Executive Director of the National Service Scheme (NSS) has been moved from the Circuit Court to the Financial Division of the High Court.
The Circuit Court, presided over by Mr Francis Obiri, was billed to rule on whether or not to grant Alhassan Imoro bail at the court’s sitting in Accra yesterday.
But Mr Obiri announced to the packed court that he had received a letter indicating that the matter had been transferred from his court to a higher court.
Thus he discharged the accused person as permitted by the law, but Imoro was rearrested and put before Mrs Justice Georgina Mensah-Datsa.

Third Remand

Imoro, who is facing one count of stealing, contrary to Section 124 (1) of the Criminal Offences Act, Act 29 of 1960, has for the third time been remanded in custody.
His first appearance in court was on October 15, 2014, two days after his arrest by officials of the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI).
He had pleaded not guilty to the charge at the Circuit Court but his plea was not taken at the High Court.
The acting Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Ms Cynthia Lamptey, prayed the court to remand the accused person because investigations were ongoing, but the defence counsel, Mr Dennis Adjei Dwomoh, did not take kindly to it, and accused the state of using its powers to trample on the rights of his client.
Mrs Mensah-Datsa took into consideration the gravity of the offence and also weighed the rights of the accused person against the interest of the state before refusing Imoro bail.
She urged investigators to allow the defence team to have access to the accused person.
Hearing continues on November 17, 2014.


Imoro was arraigned on October 15, 2014, after 27 district directors, 10 regional directors, and three directors from the NSS headquarters were picked up for questioning.

Facts of the case

According to the facts of the case, the BNI in July, 2014 began a nationwide investigation into the operations of the NSS with regard to the payment of monthly allowances to service persons.
It said investigations so far revealed that for every month, starting from the month of September 2013 to the month of July 2014, GH¢7.9 million was paid to 22,612 non-existing service persons, resulting in a total loss of GH¢86.9 million within the period.
The facts went on to state that it came up during the investigations that the ghost names were generated at the NSS headquarters “under the supervision of the Executive Director;  the accused person.”
“The accused instructed and the names were added to the payment vouchers (PVs) of all the districts in which service persons were rendering their services.
The payment vouchers were distributed to the regional national service scheme directors and on receipt, they also distributed to the district directors under their jurisdiction,” the facts continued.


The accused person was alleged to have issued instructions to the district directors through the regional directors that after the allowances of genuine service persons had been paid, the money for the non-existing/ghost service persons should be withdrawn and sent to him through the regional directors.
According to the prosecution,  Imoro allegedly received the GH¢86.9 million from the 10 regional directors.