The Minister-designate for Finance, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta has indicated to the Appointments Committee of Parliament that the Martin Amidu report on the Agyapa Royalties Agreement was meant to create hatred and insecurity among Ghanaians.
Mr Ofori-Atta was responding to a question posed by Mr Mahama Ayariga, Bawku Central lawmaker, as to why the government always refer to Amidu’s report, when talking about the failure of the Agyapa deal.
The Agyapa Royalties Agreement is the government of Ghana’s attempt to raise revenue by leveraging the country’s mineral royalties.
However, some Ghanaians, as well as the biggest opposition party in the country, the National Democratic Congress, described the agreement as a vehicle through which the government in power at the time wanted to enrich itself.
Consequently, the then Special Prosecutor, Mr Martin Amidu, who resigned from his position in the aftermath of the “Agyapa Agreement” brouhaha, accused President Akufo-Addo and the then Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, of masterminding the Agyapa Royalties Agreement.
In a 27-page letter, Mr Amidu stated that an analysis of the prevention of the risk of corruption and anti-corruption assessment report of the Agyapa Royalties Limited Transaction reveals that the “Ministry of Finance seriously lowered the incentive to corruption as a very low risk enterprise”.
These and many more publications on the Agyapa Agreement led to the government pulling breaks on the deal.
But responding to questions on the Agreement, Mr Ofori-Atta insisted that the document was one that actually assessed the ‘Agyapa deal’ in its entirety; hence they should have been given the opportunity to also respond.
He wondered why Parliament would make references to a document that is biased towards its addressees and beseeched the House not to make references to it, since it only ended up creating insecurity among Ghanaians.
“Having a fair trial is fundamental to human right and there is no way this House should even accept, tolerate and quote from it when the rights of Ghanaians have not been put in there. And you put a document of that sort there to create hatred and a sense of insecurity for all of us and that is wrong.”
He pleaded with Ghanaians who have opportunities to contribute to government issues to do so with decorum, since bad publicity kills the dreams of the citizens.
“I think we should all mind our words because words do matter and it can lead to the erosion of aspirations of our people.”
Pointing to the benefits Ghana stands to gain from the Agyapa deal, Mr Ofori Atta said that: “Look, imagine that we have this Royalties Company that may in 20/30 years become a 30 billion dollar company and we have 49 or 50 percent share in it.
“Imagine putting that balance sheet to the Bank of Ghana, what then happens. Immediately, literally, have a reserve currency which changes your economy.”
He opined that the Agyapa deal is a transaction that if well carried out would create wealth for the country. He, therefore, called on Members of the Committee to scrutinise it well, engage in all the pluses and minuses that it would want to undertake and let the deal push through.
“We have this asset sitting there because the language we have as a nation does not embolden us to be able to examine these things. I think it’s important to do something about it, we cannot go on this way.
“If you say we didn’t consult chiefs, etc, let’s do that. There are reasons for all the things we did which some don’t agree with, but even those can be cured. Let’s not kill the possibility of us as a nation rising beyond others.”
On the same Agyapa subject, the Minister-designate said that Ghana cannot tout itself as the largest exporter of gold in Africa, when it has nothing to show for it. He said the country should find new ways of investing in its gold industry in order to benefit from it.
“Mr Chairman, if you consider that Ghana is the largest exporter of gold in Africa and still this is the nature of our industry, I think it’s time to pause and see that something different is done within the remit of the constitution and that’s why we are resubmitting to find out what should be done.
“But I think the philosophy of trying to get more equity, trying to leverage our resources is something that we should all consider and know that it’s important and for us to transform.”