A Deputy Tourism Minister under the erstwhile Kufuor administration has said it cannot be the case that the Kufuor administration committed Ghana to a foreign agreement without Parliamentary approval.
Kofi Osei Ameyaw told Joy News’ Dzifa Bampoh there was no breach of the law in the agreement that gave birth to what is now the Kempinski hotel.
Joy News’ investigative journalist Kwetey Nartey has intercepted a document from a Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca which revealed the Kufuor government may have breached procedures in bringing to Ghana Cascade Development Company and its affiliates, the firm that constructed the Kempinski Hotel.
The leaked files indicate that suspended chairman of the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) Paul Afoko received over half a million US dollars for fronting for the offshore company.
Documents seen by Joy News also show that on 15 February 2006, the government of Ghana signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the foreign company for the development of a three hundred thousand square meter Accra Race Course site.
The Kufuor government reached an agreement with Cascade Development Company and its affiliates, the firm that constructed the Kempinski Hotel, to develop the site into a housing complex. The plan included a five-star hotel, office and residential buildings and a shopping mall.
The information also revealed the Kufuor government gave tax rebates to the company in order for them to set up, something critics have suggested was improper.
But in a reaction Mr Osei Ameyaw who was Deputy Tourism Minister at the time and who worked on the deal said nothing untoward happened and challenged persons who believe Parliament or the Kufuor government did something wrong to take the matter up in court.
He also argued that the erstwhile Kufuor government did not breach the law in giving tax rebates to the company.
“I am not privy to an MOU and I don’t know when an MOU became an agreement.”
“…We cannot be on air trying to debate the propriety or impropriety of Parliament’s work. If one believes one believes that Parliament acted ultra vares or gone beyond its powers in the approval of Kempinski hotel agreement then the person has the right as a citizen to take the matter up.
“In my understanding, I am very clear that there has not been any breach of the law, either by Parliament or by anybody,” he stated.
He said even if the agreement was signed before Parliament approved it, there are agreements signed as a condition subsequent, which means that agreement can only be said to be effective if it is subsequently approved by Parliament.
He dismissed assertions the tax rebates given to the company were improper.
“If you are suggesting that in one way or the other there has been impropriety, you have the right to take the matter up with the Judiciary.
He said tax rebates are a loss to the country only if the country does not approve of it. But if the country permits it doesn’t become a loss.
The Vice Chair of the Constitution and Legal Committee of Parliament George Loh, said the story “does not come to him as a story.”
He told Joy News ideally the agreement comes to Parliament for approval first before any contract is firmed up. However in the Kempiski case the contrary happened.
He said even though the agreement was not brought to Parliament in the beginning, eventually it came for approval.