Dr Charles Wereko-Brobbey, former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the defunct Ghana @ 50 Secretariat, on Monday said the Secretariat had left sufficient money for the new Government to pay contractors, who executed various works.
He, therefore, expressed surprise at the inability of the Office of the President to pay contractors, especially after the transition period, when the late President John Evans Atta Mills came to power.
“I believe Government has caused severe loss to the national purse by not paying the principal money owed these contractors on time when there was enough at the time we left power”, Dr Wereko-Brobbey said.
The former CEO made these remarks when he appeared before the Judgement Debt Commission, Chaired by Justice Yaw Appau, the Sole Commissioner, in Accra, to testify on the dealings of the Ghana @ 50 Secretariat with contractors, which had culminated into the payment of huge judgment debt by the state.
He called for a change in the way public finances were managed to ensure that the time of approval of public funds corresponded with the time of release of funds.
Dr Wereko-Brobbey explained that this would enable institutions to accordingly undertake state projects on time to avoid the payment of judgement debt.
He said that he wrote several letters to the then Deputy Chief of Staff, Dr Valerie Sawyer, on the need to pay those contractors, and also furnished her with a list of contractors who were qualified to receive payment.
Dr Wereko-Brobbey noted that although all the contractors engaged by the Secretariat were promised that they would receive payment for their services after three months, he did not advice them to contract loans to execute projects.
He particularly expressed surprise that Margins Group of Companies, contracted to provide one million calendars to the Secretariat, were paid judgment debt by the state whereas they had taken the Secretariat to court on the same issue.
Dr Wereko-Brobbey said Margins Group of Companies was not entitled to any judgment debt as they had taken custody of four apartments at the AU Village in Accra to defray money owed them by the Secretariat.
On the payment of judgement debt of GH¢383,354.84 to Jescan Construction Limited, he said that the real amount due to Jescan was GH¢100,448.63 as at the time the late President Mills came to power.
Mr Maxwell Korblah Logan, a Director at Jescan Construction Limited, who also represented the CEO of the Company, said the group took the Secretariat to court for failing to pay the rest of funds used for the execution of the project.
He said Jescan Construction decide to sue the state due to its inability to pay the company a remainder of GH¢62,000.00 out of the more than of GH¢14 million owed to the company.
Jescan was awarded payment of GH¢383,354.84 by the court instead of the initial GH¢62,000.00, to cover interest on loans contracted, withholding of taxes and other transactions.
Ms Dorothy Afriyie Danso, Chief State Attorney, who also appeared before the Commission, said although the Attorney-General’s Department was aware of the suit by Jescan, it failed to put in a defence because the office was waiting for the next line of action by the Office of the President.
She explained that in January 2011, the Attorney-General’s Department received a letter from the Office of the President authorising payment to Jescan Construction.
Ms Danso said the Attorney-General’s Department in the process of seeking clarification from the Office of the President on the exact amount to be paid, heard of the summary judgment that Jescan should be paid all money it had requested.
Sitting at the Commission has been adjourned to Monday August 26, 2013.