Freddy Blay Writes To President Mahama
MR PRESIDENT, INVESTIGATE AND PROSECUTE CORRUPTION AT DVLA
Thank you ladies and gentlemen of the media for showing up at such short notice. We called you here this afternoon to send a message to the President about corruption.
It is about the corruption at the DVLA, which thanks to you the media is now in the public domain. It is our fear that this matter will become just like the many cases of corruption which come out, we talk about them for a while, until another case comes up and we move and no action is taken by those empowered to do so.
The DVLA case is another clear case of “create, loot and share”. What are the basic facts? In 2006, DVLA awarded a contract, after a competitive tender, for the printing of driver’s licenses. The 6-year contract won by Foto-X was for the total sum of $2.7 million, ending 2012. The services to be provided per the terms of that contract included re-designing and refurbishing all DVLA offices across the country, training DVLA staff in the USA and UK, procuring project vehicles.
The selected contractor, Foto-X, was to pre-finance the project to be reimbursed over the six year period of the contract. One year into the contract, Foto-X approached DVLA asking to be paid additional money for what they called “consumables.” DVLA refused to pay because every anticipated cost had been included in the total contract sum of $2.7 million. Later in 2007 when a new Chief Executive Officer took office the claim was presented again by Foto-X and again rejected by the new CEO.
However in 2009, with a new government in office, and a new board and CEO in place, the claims for consumables, which had been twice rejected by the two previous CEOs, was brought back and readily approved and paid. These extra payments for “consumables” continued until the matter came to the attention of the Auditor-General and subsequently EOCO. By this time, total payments made to Foto-X for “consumables” had come up to nearly GHS16 million.
In 2012 the contract was to have come to an end. But, DVLA decided to renew the contract, which was supposed to be a BOT (Build Operate and Transfer). Unlike the original contract under the NPP, and typical of this NDC government, this new contract was awarded through sole sourcing, without any competitive tender.
On top of that, the new sole-sourced contract, wactually included less items than the original contract. However, it was more expensive. The renewed contract was for $3.6 million ($900,000 more than the original contract). On top of all that, not happy with inflating the sum of the renewed contract by nearly $1 million for doing far less, the contract was further inflated by nearly 300 per cent.
The CEO of the DVLA at the time managed to see to the inflation of the contract from $3.6 million to $9.9 million. This inflated sum was stated both in words and figures and, therefore, could never have been a typographical mistake. It is important to note that this inflation of figures took place after the sum of $3.6m was rubber-stamped by the Public Procurement Authority.
It took a patriotic whistleblower and investigative journalism on the part of Joy FM to save the nation $6.3 million on a renewed contract that was by itself hugely inflated.
After 2012, the NDC government appointed a new CEO for the DVLA. Under this new boss, over GHS4 million have been paid to Foto-X for driver’s licenses that have taken years to produce.
This clear case of corruption at the DVLA is typical of how the NDC government since 2009 has abused the coffers of the state. Such is the travesty, that whiles drivers and motor vehicle owners are asked to pay more and more after each National Budget is read for keeping their vehicles on the road, the revenues raised are rather used to fund NDC corruption.
Unfortunately, President John Mahama has shown to be extremely soft on corruption. In fact, he can be said to be friendly to corruption. This is because findings of clear cases of corruption end up with hardly any prosecution.
· We call on the President to make this DVLA matter an exception. Let Ghanaians see him turning a new page on his attitude to corruption. The President must allow all those who are allegedly implicated in the corruption at DVLA to be investigated and prosecuted. The business of “to err is human” should not be entertained.
· We also want the GHS16 million unjustifiably paid for “consumables” to be refunded and the culprits punished.
· Again, we want the GHS4.2 million paid since 2012 for printing of driver’s licences when none was done for three years to be investigated.
Let the President be seen to be doing something about corruption before his term expires next year. The cost of corruption has been such a heavy toll on ordinary people and business.
Also, we take note of the fact that the 2016 budget will be read tomorrow. This will be the election year budget. It makes us justifiably nervous. Another election year; more corruption; more reckless spending?
A key aim of the budget/IMF bailout is the control of public expenditure to avoid the horrendous experience of reckless spending we saw in 2012, which has brought years of untold hardship on the people, cost the cedi to fall heavily, collapsed businesses, created mass unemployment, piled up huge arrears and debt repayments, all forcing us to go for the IMF in the first place.
We are skeptical about the2016 budget. We fear a playback of 2012, where sole sourcing of government contracts were done, costs of contracts inflated, all under a deadly culture of “create, loot and share.”
Let the President show that corrupt officials will be punished by tackling the cases before him now, and let him do so before we enter election year, 2016. Ghana deserves better. Our coffers must be better protected. We beg the President to show leadership in the fight against corruption and, particularly, in keeping a lid on inflated, sole-sourced public contracts. Let him begin with DVLA today.