Government on heels of Rlg to refund GH¢6.3m for unsupplied laptops

BY: Musah Yahaya Jafaru
 Mr James Klutse Avedzi, Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament
Mr James Klutse Avedzi, Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament

Rlg Communications Limited is owing the state GH¢6.3 million for failing to fulfil part of its contract obligation to supply the required quantity of laptops to the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, according to the 2015 Auditor-General's Report.

The company is again accused of supplying laptops which did not meet the specifications agreed upon under the Better Ghana Laptop Programme.

According to the report, in 2010, the ministry decided to apply part of its budgetary allocation from the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund) to procure laptops, accessories and associate services.

In line with the policy of promoting indigenous Ghanaian businesses, the report said the ministry entered into an agreement with Rlg to produce and distribute 103,181 pieces of laptops at a cost of GH¢51,257,500.

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"Out of the 103,181 pieces to be produced by the Rlg Communications Limited, 90,448 pieces were produced and distributed, leaving a balance of 12,733 pieces, worth GH¢6,366,875," it said.

The report said Rlg had indicated that no request was made by the ministry to produce and distribute the remaining laptops.

It recommended that management should ensure that Rlg supplied the remaining 12,733 pieces of laptops to the ministry or refund the balance without further delay.

Laptops specifications blues

Prof. Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng (middle) responding to a question. With him are Dr Victor Kwame Agyemang (right), Director-General of CSIR, and Madam Salimata Abdul-Salam (left), Chief Director of MESTI. Pictures: Maxwell Ocloo

Answering to the queries raised in the report at the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament sitting in Accra yesterday, the Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, Professor Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng, said Rlg supplied some laptops to the ministry, leaving an outstanding balance of 12,733.

He said the ministry then agreed with Rlg to supply bigger laptops with higher specifications in its subsequent supplies.

Prof. Frimpong-Boateng said per the conversion, it was agreed that Rlg would supply 3,180 bigger laptops instead of the remaining 12,733 smaller laptops. The smaller laptops sold at GH¢500 each, while the bigger ones went for GH¢2,000 each.

However, he said, Rlg supplied the laptops which were the same as the first ones in terms of size and specifications and indicated that the only difference was that the new ones were detachable.

Prof. Frimpong-Boateng said the ministry again contracted Rlg to supply 4,000 laptops in 2015.

He said the total supplies of Rlg to the ministry (comprising the first contract and the second contract of 4,000 laptops) was 3,800.

Rlg delaying payment

Prof. Frimpong-Boateng said he had communicated to the managing director of Rlg via phone, message and Whatsapp to refund the outstanding GH¢6.3 million to the ministry.

He said the company had agreed to refund the money, but the bone of contention was the mode of payment.

Prof. Frimpong-Boateng said Rlg wanted to make part payment and spread the rest over months, but the ministry wanted an upfront payment.

He said the ministry wanted an upfront payment because the company was not paying any interest on the money.

Way forward

Prof. Frimpong-Boateng said the ministry was preparing a letter to the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice on the need to get a refund of the money from Rlg.

But upon advice by the Chairman of the PAC, Mr James Avedzi, Prof. Frimpong-Boateng said he would first write to the Rlg to indicate that the laptops did not meet the right specifications.

In the event that the Rlg failed to supply the specified laptops, he would then follow up with the letter to the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice.

Full payment

Members of PAC described as unusual the payment of the contract sums to Rlg even before the supply of the laptops.

Prof. Frimpong-Boateng also agreed with that assertion, saying: "These shouldn't have happened" and called for a collaboration between the ministry and PAC "to retrieve the money or the computers."

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