Akufo-Addo commends Amidu for discretionary work on Agyapa deal

BY: Enoch Darfah Frimpong

The Presidency has explained why the Minister of Finance, Mr Ken Ofori Atta has been asked to take the Agyapa Minerals Royalties deal back to Parliament for the approval process to start all over again.

The Minister of Finance in the interest of transparency and accountability to the Ghanaian people has been directed by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to re-submit to Parliament, the Agreements supporting the Agyapa transaction for the approval process to start all over again.

In a press statement signed and issued by the Director of Communications at the Presidency, Mr Eugene Arhin on Monday night [November 2, 2020], President Akufo-Addo commended the Special Prosecutor, Mr Martin Amidu for exercising his discretion, in this regard, "in undertaking the risk of corruption and anti-corruption assessment on the deal.

The Office of the Special Prosecutor concluded in its risk of corruption assessment that the Agyapa Mineral Royalties deal is not transparent and also does not help in the fight against corruption.

To the Special Prosecutor, Mr Martin Amidu, “the assessment resulting from the examination, and analysis of all the five (5) Agreements making up the Transactions Documents is that they each suffer from the same lack of probity, transparency, unaccountability, illegality and unconstitutionality."

He concludes that the very nature of secrecy and confidentiality surrounding the Agreements and Indemnity Agreement in particular, does not conduce to the prevention of corruption and fighting corruption in the extractive mineral sector,” the report which was signed by the Special Prosecutor, Mr Martin A.B.K Amidu said.

Presidency's response

Reacting, President Akufo-Addo indicated that he considers the exercise by the Special Prosecutor as an important step in enhancing the principles of good governance in Ghana.

The statement from the Presidency announcing the President's decision noted that in as must as the report by the Special Prosecutor makes no specific recommendations, as, according to the report, "an assessment does not constitute an investigation" the report makes a fundamental observation.

"This is the first time that an independent anti-corruption agency established by any government in Ghana has undertaken an analysis of the risk of corruption and anti-corruption risk assessment of the processes leading up to the approval by Parliament of Public Agreements as part of its statutory mandate."

It said the President, thus welcomes "this novelty of institutionalising the risk of corruption and anti-corruption risk assessment and wholly welcomes it an an important preventive weapon in the fight against corruption in Ghana."

It said President Akufo-Addo has also studied the report and the comments from the Minister for Finance.

"Based on the observations, the President has, accordingly, instructed the Minister that, in the interest of transparency and accountability to the Ghanaian people, the Agreements supporting the transaction that were submitted to Parliament, and approved by the House, should be resubmitted to Parliament for the approval process to start all over again.

This, he believes, will help address the concerns raised, principally, by the Minority, about having been given very limited time to subject properly the various Agreements to proper scrutiny. The transaction documents to be resubmitted are the Relationship Agreement, the Assignment Agreement, the Allocation Agreement, and the Investment Agreement.

It explained that when President Akufo-Addo received the report of the Special Prosecutor on the Risk of Corruption and Anti-Corruption Assessment in relation to the Gold Royalties Monetization Transaction, under the Minerals Income Investment Act 2018 (Act 978), in which the Finance Minister was copied, he also  asked the Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, for his comments, which were contained in a confidential Memorandum to the President, and which the President has authorised to be made public to contribute to the national discourse on this matter.

It said in line with the observations of the Special Prosecutor, President Akufo-Addo has directed that the procurement of the services of the Transaction Advisor(s) should also be reviewed by the Ministry of Finance and the Attorney General, with the aim of taking all steps that may be necessary to remove any doubts about the integrity of the process.

Additionally, it is the expectation of the President that the Ministry of Finance and the Minerals Income Investment Fund and the Transaction Advisors will use this opportunity also to amend the relevant Agreements to take into account the useful feedback received during the series of stakeholder consultations over the last two months, it added.

Furthermore, issues surrounding the value of the proposed Agyapa listing should be properly addressed in order to engender greater public confidence, it said.

"The President would like to affirm his confidence in the Minister for Finance, the Ministry of Finance and the Board and Management of the Minerals Income Investment Fund.

He also reiterated his full support and that of his Cabinet for the transaction, which he believes, ultimately, is an innovative addition to the framework of efforts of his government to enhance significantly the value that Ghana has, historically, derived from her rich natural resources.

It added that the President takes note of the conclusion of the Special Prosecutor, which states: “It is the expectation that the analysis of the risk of corruption and anti-corruption assessment of the Agyapa Royalties Limited Agreements will guide policy decisions on this transaction, and be seen more in the terms of the vision that informed the establishment of this office and not be used for political point scoring.”

In this light, President Akufo-Addo wonders whether, in the current, understandably highly-charged political atmosphere in the country, debate on the matter should take place before the elections. It is his view that the national interest would be better served for the parliamentary proceedings on this matter to take place either after the elections or in the next Parliament. There would be a greater chance of achieving a greater national consensus on this important issue.

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Below is a copy of the full report