—-As Ghana Boils Over Fat Salaries of Article 71 Officeholders.
Barely a week after revelations that the Akufo Addo administration has okayed fat salaries for its ministers, spouses and other Article 71 officeholders, Finance Minister in a rather tone-deaf move is tabling a loan of US$ 28 million to buy luxury cars for each of the 275 Members of Parliament.
The Minister for Finance, Mr. Ken Ofori-Atta, presented a loan agreement for $28 million to Parliament less than 24 hours ago and he is seeking the loan to come from the ailing
National Investment Bank, NIB, which recently indicated it will retrench some 500 staff.
The make and brand of the cars are currently unknown but they will be top-of-the-range luxury with a hefty price tag of some US$ 101,000 each as critics cite the Akufo Addo administration and the current crop of legislators decimating the country’s scarce public funds with reckless abandon.
The Finance Committee of the House is expected to consider the loan agreement and report to the house.
The funds will be channelled towards the procurement of vaccines and other activities to strengthen the country’s health system.
The appetite of the Akufo Addo administration has elicited dire warnings from rating agencies such as Fitch, Moodys’ and the Bretton Woods agencies of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
Currently, the administration is the most indebted sin Ghana’s independence, contributing more than 50% of Ghana’s almost GHC 300 billion public debt stock.
The Akufo Addo administration has recently come under harsh criticisms from the Ghanaian public following new revelations that President Akufo Addo had set up an emolument committee that had recommended and gotten approval for salaries of the President, his Vice, their spouses and other Article 71 officeholders to be significantly increased.
This is coming at a time the government had slapped killer taxes on citizens, had instituted austerity measures and asked citizens to “tighten their belts” due to an alleged COVID-19-related economic downturn.
Meanwhile, the decision of the Finance Minister to opt for a loan from the NIB bank comes as strange, having been directly linked to antics that bank insiders have said was a ploy to collapse the bank.
For instance, in 2017, Ken Ofori-Atta, was reported to have been conniving to pay a whopping US$ 60 million to a foreign company called Dominion Corporate Trustees
which had dragged NIB to court after a promissory notes transaction with the bank went sour.
A high court had earlier ruled against NIB to pay a judgment debt and the government led by Mr. Ofori-Atta were readying themselves to settle the money but the board of NIB insisted on pursuing the case further in the Supreme Court.
Eventually, in June 2017, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled against Dominion Group, saving NIB the amount that had been planned to settle Dominion. Sources within the NIB board had told Whatsup News that two weeks before the case was expected to be heard in the Supreme Court, the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta wrote to the board to withdraw the case and settle the US$ 60 million out of Court. The board is said to have refused and proceeded to win the case in court.
At the time, the Industrial and Commercial Union of workers at the bank (ICU) wrote a strongly-worded letter to the government to explain why it was running the bank down. According to the ICU in their letter, its members working at the bank suspected something was not right and had written to the Board which comprises mostly representatives appointed by the government, “but the Board was economical with its response and implied that the Bank was relying on the Honourable Minister of Finance and Economic Planning and the Governor of the Bank of Ghana to determine the future of NIB,” the ICU explained.