Ablakwa And Former Minister Clash...
A former Local Government Minister under the Kufuor administration has strongly denied that the former government has caused the state to incur an over $1.5 billion debt through negligence.
Kwadwo Adjei-Darko was reacting to comments made by a deputy Minister of Information, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, that the Local Government Ministry refused to honour an agreement between government and African Automobile Limited (AAL) for the supply of 109 Hyundai Galloper vehicles to be distributed to the various district assemblies in 1999, leading to the state being saddled with such the debt.
The Gallopers were to be traded in for Toyota Pajeros being used by the Assemblies and some ministries under a deal brokered by then Local government Minister Kwamena Ahwoi before his replacement by Mrs Cecilia Johnson, during the first NDC government.
Twenty-three vehicles were subsequently supplied before the NDC government under Jerry John Rawlings was voted out of office.
However, after the arrival of the vehicles in 2001, the newly-elected NPP government refused to accept the deal because, according to Mr Adjei-Darko, there was no documentation covering the said transaction.
The vehicles were abandoned in a warehouse until the present NDC government paid the cost and the interest accruing before transporting them to the Institute of Local Government Studies at Madina, Accra.
In the Wednesday June 27 edition of the Daily Graphic,Mr Ablakwa cited the payment of the money as an example of a judgment debt caused by the inaction of the erstwhile Kufuor administration.
Speaking on Adom FM’s Dwaso Nsem Wednesday, Mr Adjei-Darko, who was in charge of the Ministry from 2003 to 2005 and again from 2007 to January 2009, insisted there was no existing contract between the government and AAL and therefore there was no need to pay any money.
“I know nothing of any contract between Government and African Automobile. Throughout my tenure no court order was served, so I’m surprised at the judgment debt. The head of AAL never showed any contract between his company and government. The Ministry did not officially take delivery of the Gallopers,” he insisted.
Mr Adjei-Darko alleged that a prominent member of the NDC official had warned him against getting involved in the deal when he took office because it was fishy.
“Based on this, I summoned the Chief Director and other directors of the Local Government Ministry, who confirmed there was no document or agreement on the deal.”
However, in a sharp contrast, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa insisted he had “seen many documents” confirming the agreement, including paperwork covering payment for the first 23 vehicles supplied.
“Whenever the NPP suspected wrong doing, they investigated and even sent some NDC officials to jail, so what happened in this instance? If this was their personal company would they be this negligent?” he added.
He questioned: “If there was no agreement, why would AAL import vehicles for government? Why would the contractor keep updating the ministry on charges accruing? Why would they continue to deal with them? Why allow these vehicles to stay in a government bonded warehouse?”
But Mr Adjei-Darko rejected the claims, pointing out that Mr Kwamena Ahwoi’s replacement in a government reshuffle, Mr Cecilia Johnson, also failed to generate any document indicating the existence of any such agreement.