Court hears Vodafone wasn’t on Ghana Telecom sale shortlist

A witness has told the Accra Commercial Court that Vodafone International BV was not part of the final companies shortlisted to buy the government’s 70 per cent shares in Ghana Telecommunications Limited.

According to Mr. Benjamin Adu, a technical member on the Inter-Ministerial Review Committee which looked into the transaction, although Vodafone made it to the initial companies that bid for the shares, it was rejected at the final shortlist.

Mr. Adu, a communications engineer by profession, said this on Tuesday when he testified in a mini-trial to gather evidence for the Supreme Court to make a determination of some constitutional matters arising out of the legal tussle.

On how Vodafone won the bid, he said the committee could not find out the reason but said it emerged at its sitting that Vodafone came back to the table after former President John Agyekum Kufuor had held meetings with the company’s officials.

He told the court, presided over by Justice Gertrude Torkonoo, that following its meetings with President Kufuor, Vodafone made an offer which was accepted by the government and a team was set up to draft the Sales and Purchase Agreement, (SPA). The agreement is now a major subject of litigation.

Touching on whether the National Communications Authority gave the government any advice regarding the sale transaction, Mr. Adu said the committee found no evidence of that or any evidence to show that it evaluated the sale transaction.

Per the NCA Act (Act 524), he said the NCA was to have publicised the transaction and waited for responses or comments, to be followed by evaluation of those comments before it could give any advice.

“To my knowledge, we didn’t see any evidence that Vodafone applied for a 3G licence. The committee found that it was included in the agreement,” Mr. Adu told the court, when asked whether Vodafone paid for the licence.

He said after the transaction had been finalised and approved by Parliament, the NCA wrote to Vodafone requesting it to make payments for the 3G licence, and Vodafone wrote to the Communications Ministry which notified the NCA to clarify that the licence fee was part of the total sum of the SPA.

Hearing continues today, Wednesday, August 22, 2012.

The court action was initiated in October 2008 by Prof. Agyeman Badu Akosa, Michael Kosi Dedey, Dr Nii Moi Thompson, Naa Kordai Assimeh, Ms Rhodaline Imoru Ayarna and Mr Kwame Jantuah, all members of the Convention People’s Party, in their capacity as citizens.

They are contending that the Sale and Purchase Agreement entered by the Government of Ghana, GT and Vodafone for the sale of 70 per cent of GT for 900 million dollars, was against public interest and constituted an abuse of the discretionary powers of the government.

According to them, the decision by the government to transfer the assets, property, shares and equipment, among others, to Vodafone was “obnoxious, unlawful and inimical to the public interest”.

The group argued that the three ministers of state and the managing director of GT, who signed the agreement on behalf of the government, did not exercise the requisite level of circumspection required of them as public officers, in relation to public property.

The plaintiffs are, therefore, seeking reliefs from the court, including a declaration that the agreement entered into by the government was not in accordance with the due process of law and was therefore a nullity.

Source: Ghanaian Times

NPP spells-out educational blue print

The opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) on Tuesday spelt-out the party’s educational policy, which hinges on redefining basic education to make it compulsory from Kindergarten to Senior High School (SHS).

“To ensure that no child is denied access to secondary education, we will remove the biggest obstacles: cost and access. In addition to tuition and other costs already borne by government, admission, library, computer, science centre, feeding, boarding, examination fees, and entertainment fees, along with textbooks and utilities will all be free.

“In order to ensure equity, day students will also be fed at school free of charge…NPP’s free secondary school education will cover Technical and Vocational institutions as well,” Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, NPP flag bearer for Elections 2012 stated in Accra.

Nana Akufo-Addo, who was speaking at the Institute of Economics Affairs’ platform dubbed: “Evening Encounter with Presidential Candidates,” emphasized that the cost of providing free secondary school education would be cheaper than the cost of the current alternative of a largely uneducated and unskilled workforce that retarded development.

The NPP Flagbearer was accompanied to the Kofi Annan International ICT Centre venue for the encounter by a large contingent of NPP leading members, including Dr Mahamudu Bawumia his running mate, some national and regional executives and some Members of Parliament.

He stressed that leadership was about choices – “I will choose to invest in the future of our youth and of our country”.

Making some statistical analysis on how to fund the NPP’s proposed free education policy, Nana Akufo-Addo explained that the additional cost of providing Free Senior High School will be one per cent of Ghana’s GDP.

The cost of providing free secondary school education, which includes tuition, boarding, feeding and all the other charges for the 2013-2014 academic year is estimated at 0.1 per cent of GDP.

According to the NPP Flagbearer, this translated into some GH¢78 million…“We have made provision for a major increase in enrolment as a result of admitting all Junior High School students into SHS in 2014-2015.

“We expect the cost to rise to GH¢288 million (0.3 per cent of GDP) in that academic year and increase to GH¢774 million in 2015-2016 (0.7 per cent of GDP).

He explained that additional expenditure on more teachers, infrastructure for schools, including expanding and rehabilitating existing infrastructure, and establishing cluster schools in areas where there are no SHS, would bring the total cost to GH¢755 million (0.9 per cent of GDP) in 2013 and rise to GH¢1.45 billion (1.3 per cent of GDP) in 2016.

Nana Akufo-Addo said providing free secondary education would increase the total educational expenditure from the 4.1 per cent of GDP in 2012 to 5.8 per cent by 2016, a figure still below the UNESCO minimum of six per cent.

“I am prepared to go beyond that in order to improve quality at all levels – Primary, JHS, SHS, and Tertiary,” he stated.

According to Nana Akufo-Addo, countries that have taken deliberate, successful steps to improve their economies had spent substantial amounts of their national income on education.

He said a number of African countries were doing better than Ghana as Kenya spends 6.7 per cent of its GDP on education, South Africa six per cent and Lesotho 13 per cent of its GDP on education.

“Let me put this into context; the NDC admits to paying out some GH¢640 million, equivalent to 1.4 per cent of Ghana’s 2010 GDP, as judgment debts; Are we telling parents and their children that a Ghana that can afford to spend 1.4 per cent of its income on judgment debts cannot afford to spend an additional 1.3 per cent of its income on giving its children free secondary education?

“We know how to fund it. A percentage of the oil revenues allocated to the Ghana National Petroleum Company, and for the funding of the budget, as well as a greater percentage from GETFund, will be used to finance the programme”.

The next NPP government, he said, would attract, train and retain young professionals into the teaching profession. “We will make it easier for teachers to upgrade their skills, improve their status and provide them with incentives.

“Any teacher with 10 or more years of service will be eligible for a mortgage scheme, supported by government, for a home anywhere in the country. We shall endeavour to make teaching in the rural areas, in particular, less stressful by providing accommodation and transportation.

“It is obvious that the scope of our modern lives has placed extra responsibilities on our teachers. With most families now made up of both parents going out to work, children spend much longer periods at school and teachers have to see to their moral as well as academic upbringing. Society must recognize this and accord our teachers the necessary incentives.

“That is why an Akufo-Addo presidency, God-willing, will introduce a Teacher First policy to give teachers the recognition they deserve. Free education must be achieved, hand in hand, with quality education and we shall work with the religious bodies to ensure equal weight is attached to the moral upbringing of our children.

“We also acknowledge the important work the private schools are doing, and we will work with them to improve delivery”.

He said when elected as President, he would implement the 2008 Education Act, which makes provisions for apprenticeship schemes; Technical and Vocational Institutions would be increased, equipped and enhanced to help fill the critical skills gap required to industrialize Ghana.

“At the higher level, education must produce technical, professional and managerial personnel to drive Ghana’s industrialisation and transformation.

“We shall formalise collaboration between government, the private sector, teachers’ associations and institutions of higher learning, including polytechnics for manpower planning and needs and, thereby, address this new, unwelcome phenomenon of rising levels of graduate unemployment.

“We will put greater emphasis on research and development, science and technology, to provide the nuts and bolts for the new economy”.

Nana Akufo Addo noted that education is at the heart of the NPP programme. “We cannot transform the economy and the country without transforming the knowledge and skills of our people. Every child, rich or poor, able-bodied or disabled, deserves a good education.

“Currently, at every stage of education, our children are falling out of the system. To our eternal shame, some children born in this country never even make it to a classroom.

“The situation has become significantly worse over the last three years, with even fewer children (47% as against 62% in 2008) passing the BECE. In some villages, not a single child passes the exam. Every year, more than 150,000 young Ghanaians leave school at JHS level without any opportunities for further education or training. This is dangerous”

Source: Ghanaian Times

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