When Betty appeared before the PAC…
On Wednesday, Mrs. Betty Mould-Iddrisu appeared before the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament (PAC) to assist its members understand the rationale behind the huge payment to the mother company of Construction Pioneers (CP).
The Auditor-General had raised queries on the gargantuan payment, and as the officer who led the Ghana Government Negotiating Team, the former Attorney-General has to provide basic answers arising out of the deal.
Like her appointment with the same committee five days earlier, Mrs. Mould-Iddrisu raised the temperature at the sitting to boiling point.
Last week, she had issues with PAC Chairman, Albert Kan-Dapaah, and threatened not to co-operate with the committee. Last Wednesday, Mrs. Betty Mould-Iddrisu wanted Mr. Isaac Asiamah, a member of the committee, to be thrown out, or she would not co-operate.
The Chronicle is happy to note that like last week’s episode, Mr. Kan-Dapaah stood his ground as Chairman of the Committee. But, instead of the cordial atmosphere needed to do a good and honest job on behalf of the nation, more hot air was unnecessarily blown over the need to establish why the state lost as much as 94 million euros in a settlement agreement.
The posture of the former Attorney-General left much to be desired. Mrs. Mould-Iddrisu tried to create the impression that because the office of the Attorney-General is grounded in Article 88 of the 1992 Constitution, then she, as a former Attorney-General, ought not to be questioned by the Parliamentary Committee.
We would like to state unequivocally, that Mrs. Mould-Iddrisu got it all wrong. Article 88 spells out the origin and functions of the Attorney-General. It does not state that office holders are above answering questions from the people’s representatives in the House.
What is worth noting is that barely a week before Mrs. Mould-Iddrisu’s attempt to place her former office above the powers of Parliament, her successor, who is the incumbent Attorney-General, had answered the summons of the Parliamentary Accounts Committee to be grilled.
The Chronicle does not believe any person in the country, including the President of Ghana, is above Parliament. When there is need to summon the President, we are inclined to believe that the necessary processes are applied. The office holder cannot cite the Constitution as a protective shield against accounting to the people of this country.
The circumstances under which hard-earned state money was handed over to CP in settlement claims is of interest to this nation. It is one of the key lessons to be learnt in our effort at constructing a just and equitable society. We would like to believe that it is worth opening up the payment to audit, which is all the PAC is doing.
There cannot be many Ghanaians who are happy with the circumstances under which the state came to accept 102 million euros as liability towards mobilisation by CP, when the contract sum itself is not up to 50 million euros.
We do not believe that state officials could negotiate on behalf of the nation and refuse to disclose how sums lost to the state, as a result of their negotiation skills or lack of them, and refuse to tell Ghanaians how sums paid from state coffers were arrived at.
We are minded to state that the 102 million euros demand, which was a key factor in negotiating for the eventual payment of 94 million euros, has to be properly interrogated. We dare state that Mrs. Mould-Iddrisu cannot escape the enquiry. We applaud her status in society as a lawyer of 36 years standing, though.
We are inclined to hold the view that her standing as a lawyer of 36 years is of little comfort to the Ghanaian, in the face of the acceptance by the Negotiating Team, of the liability of 102 million euros for mobilisation.
What the Ghanaian wants to know is whether or not the state lost the huge money out of inefficient negotiations, or that some of the huge payment could have been saved, if as leader of the negotiators, she had done a good job.
After all, it is on record that under her tutelage as Attorney-General, the state did not win any of the high-profile cases taken to court. We would like to believe that the realisation of Mrs. Mould-Iddrisu’s limitations should humble the former Attorney-General, instead of inflating her ego.
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