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GRA-SML deal: Akufo-Addo’s refusal to make KPMG audit report public a ‘ruse to protect Ofori-Atta’ – Kpebu alleges

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Source: Onuaonline.com

 

Martin Kpebu has alleged that President Akufo-Addo’s refusal to make the KPMG audit report on the Ghana Revenue Service (GRA) revenue mobilisation contract with Strategic Mobilisation Limited (SML) is to protect his family.

He has noted the contract was extended by his brother, Ken Ofori-Atta, who was then Finance Minister.

Mr. Kpebu says the President’s insistence on the Section 5 of the RTI Act not to make the report public, is not to serve the Sstate’s interest since the report does not contain anything so sensitive to compromise national security as he stated in his letter to the Media Foundation for West Africa.

According to him, the President only handpicked a portion of the section that suits his agenda to buttress his decision to cover up for his brother and left out the part that warrants him to make the report public.

He explains the provision makes room for an information to be kept from the public only if it has the potency to disrupt a deliberative process. However, there is no deliberative process ongoing which would be affected by the report should it becomes public.

Speaking on the KeyPoints on TV3 Saturday, May 11, 2024, the private legal practitioner stated that: “[Section] 5 [of the RTI Act] says that (a) the information is exempt where the information is prepared for submission or has been submitted to the President or Vice president for consideration. Or (b), contains matters the disclosure of which will reveal information concerning opinion, advice, deliberation, recommendation, minutes or consultations made or given to the President, blahblahblah, and it’s likely to undermine, so you see the thing, it’s joint and it’s likely to undermine the deliberative process. Which process is ongoing now? It’s an audit report. That’s why you hear Professor Asare saying no, he doesn’t agree also. Which deliberative process is ongoing? It’s a report.”

He explained further that persons listed in the report had 30 days notice to respond as the Ghana Audit Service’s law provides. Following the observation of that provision, the lawyer says he does not see any ongoing deliberation for the President to use it as a basis to keep the report, indicating his decision is just to protect his family.

“What I asked for a few weeks ago was that, give all the people they named [in the report] the opportunity to respond, 30 days period as done under the Ghana Audit Service, their law. That’s it. But now that it’s done, which deliberative process is ongoing? Look, there’s just a ruse to cover the President’s family,” he stated.

“He’s trying to cover Ofori-Atta because Ofori-Atta is the one who extended the contract. He’s the one who’s been part of it,” he added.

Mr. Kpebu’s comments come on the back of a Right to Information (RTI) request by the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) seeking the full KPMG audit report on the revenue mobilisation contract between the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) and Strategic Mobilisation Ghana Ltd (SML) which the Presidency rejected.

According to the Presidency, the report contains some sensitive information which cannot be disclosed to the public, something section 5 (1) (a) and (b) (i) of the RTI Act makes provision for.

Based on the provision, the Presidency says it has the right to reject requests for information that is deemed crucial.

A Wednesday, May 08, 2024 statement addressed to the Executive Director of the MFWA, Sulemana Braimah and signed by the Chief Director to the Chief of Staff, H.M. Wood, the presidency indicated that the confidence nature of the report makes it impossible for it to be made public.

“Upon careful consideration and in accordance with sections 5 (1) (a) and (b) (i) of the RTI Act, I regret to inform you that your request has been refused. Section 5 (1) (a) and (b) (i) states that information prepared for or submitted to the President or Vice President containing opinions, advice, deliberations, recommendations, minutes, or consultations, is exempt from disclosure and that disclosure of such information would compromise the integrity of the deliberative process by revealing the thought process, considerations, and influence on decision-making reserved for the highest offices of the land”

“The full KPMG Audit Report comprises opinions, advice, deliberations, and recommendations that are integral to the President’s deliberative process and, therefore, qualifies as exempt information under section 5 (1) (a) and (b) (i),” portions of the letter stated.

Background

KPMG, an auditing firm, has completed and presented its report on the contract between the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) and Strategic Mobilisation Ghana Ltd (SML) to President Akufo-Addo.

The President commissioned KPMG to audit the contract on January 2, 2024, with a deadline initially set for January 16, 2024, but later extended to February 23, 2024.

According to the audit findings, SML received a total of GH¢1,061,054,778.00 from 2018 to date while partially fulfilling its obligations. However, the report also noted that SML’s work had contributed to an increase in revenue in the downstream petroleum sector.

Contrary to the audit report’s claims, SML has disputed receiving GH¢1,061,054,778.00 for its contract with the GRA, arguing that KPMG cited the figure “without reference to the investments made and the taxes paid” during the review period.

In response to the report, Sulemana Braimah, Executive Director of the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), stated that the foundation had submitted a Right to Information (RTI) request to the presidency for the full KPMG Audit Report.

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