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Ayorkor Botchwey: We have not paid for Oslo property

BY: Graphic Online
Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey - Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration
Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey - Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration has said it has not made any payment for a Chancery and place of residence for Ghana’s Ambassador to Norway.

In a statement, the ministry said discussions are still underway in connection with the planned purchase of the property.

This comes after the sector minister, Ms Shirley Oyorkor Botchwey had a heated exchange with the Member of Parliament for North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa within the corridors of parliament on Monday, 17 December 2018 over the price of the building.

The Minority alleged that the government had inflated the cost ($12 million) of the six-bedroom property.

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Below is a statement from the ministry:

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration has taken notice of events emerging out of parliament, where a section of the Minority is alleging corrupt motives into plans by the government to acquire a Chancery in Oslo, Norway.

The ministry takes very strong exception to the Minority’s vigorous attempt to impute corruption into the said transaction by claiming that the price of the Chancery has been inflated by 8.5 million dollars.

For the avoidance of doubt, here are the facts;

1. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has not signed any agreement to purchase the said properties; that is the Chancery and the Ambassador’s Residence.

2. The ministry expressed interest in two properties in Oslo and as required by the Public Procurement Act, commenced due diligence on the properties with the assistance of a property valuer and a reputable lawyer with expertise in the acquisition of properties for diplomatic missions.

3. As of now, the ministry has not entered into any binding agreement with the owners of the properties.

4. The ministry wishes to categorically state that no payment has been made towards the purchase of the properties, therefore, there has been no financial loss to the state.

5. The ministry strongly rejects the unfounded claims by the Ranking Member of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Foreign Affairs, Samuel Okudjeto Ablakwa, and a section of the Minority that seeks to give the erroneous impression that the ministry was engaged in some fraudulent transaction with the owners of the two properties.

6. Such uninformed allegations and hasty judgement involving a diplomatic mission could damage not only the image of the country but jeopardise relations between our two countries.

7. In response to the publication in a Norwegian newspaper alleging the inflation of the price of the Chancery by the owner, the Hon. Minister directed on 12 December 2018 that all due diligence activities relating to the acquisition of the two properties be discontinued.

8. This directive was immediately communicated to the parties involved.

The Ministry wishes to assure the public that it would not engage in any transaction that lacks transparency or does not conform to proper procurement standards, ensuring value for money.

Accra, 17th December, 2018.