–Siaw Agyepong Fights Back
The founder and Executive Chairman of the Jospong Group of Companies Joseph Siaw Agyepong has said his company was not cited for any financial malfeasance in the report that exposed the mismanagement and corruption at the Youth Employment and Entrepreneurial Agency (GYEEDA).
According to him, the report did not make any adverse findings against Zoomlion.
Some companies including Zoomlion Ghana Limited were engaged to render varied services to the country under the social intervention programme, formerly known as the National Youth Employment Programme (NYEP).
GYEEDA which was a public initiative targeted at youth development however failed to achieve its purpose as it was fraught with corruption and shady deals.
Following reports of mismanagement of state funds, government in 2012 tasked a committee to investigate activities of GYEEDA.
The committee in the report cited Zoomlion for taking as much GH¢500 from government meant for each worker under the programme but gave them [the workers] only a small portion and kept the rest.
“…As an example, contrary to the express opinion of the National Coordinator of GYEEDA, Zoomlion effectively lobbied the Minister of Local Government to increase their rates from three hundred and fifty Ghana cedis (GHS350) to five hundred Ghana cedis (GHS500). Four hundred Ghana cedis (GH¢400) goes to the organization, thus 80% of the rate goes to Zoomlion as management fees.”
“The Committee’s analysis of a schedule provided by Zoomlion to support the amount of management fees raises serious value for money issues. Zoomlion is making significant windfall profits at the expense of the tax payer. In the schedule that Zoomlion provided, Zoomlion suggests that at a management fee rate of four hundred Ghana cedis (GHS400) per beneficiary, it is making a loss of circa eighteen Ghana cedis (GH¢18.00) per beneficiary. The Committee finds Zoomlion’s assertion difficult to accept. This schedule is also inaccurate and highly deceptive. By Zoomlion’s own admission, certain cost items such as tricycle replacement charge, tricycle repair cost, motorbike and wellington boots were overstated. Zoomlion promised to submit a corrected version of this schedule to the Committee.”
The report in another section also said “GYEEDA module controllers and Regional Coordinators had no control over the activities of Zoomlion and therefore it was difficult to measure execution effectiveness. The management fee schedule provided by Zoomlion, suggests a serious misuse of the public purse and was based on erroneous mathematics. This raises serious questions about the basis for the approval of rates under GYEEDA for all its modules.”
Mr. Agyepong while speaking on Metro TV’s Good Evening Ghana programme said he did not find anywhere in the report asking him to refund any money to the state.
“We were about 17 contractors that were having this business; each one was called for interview by the committee. I could remember that I came before the committee with my team. We provided them with every document including the numbers of people we were working with at the time. And after that the committee report came out. On page 131 the committee had its recommendations. After that government issued a White Paper on the report and I’ve read through, I did not find any charge against Zoomlion,” he argued.
He also dispelled rumours that Zoomlion was not asked by government to refund any money.
“Some journalists have posted on their Facebook wall that Zoomlion has been asked to pay GHc141 million. So I was trying to point out that such things do not motivate businesses and it doesn’t encourage businesses to grow. I’ve not received any letter from government after the GYEEDA report. After we made the presentation, the last thing that we heard was the report that came out. I don’t owe GHc140 million,” he insisted.
Meanwhile in its recommendation, the committee that investigated the matter said:
“Considering the expiration of the waste and sanitation contract with ZOOMLION, this contract should be subjected to competitive bidding, rationalised against a separate existing contract by the same SP [Service Provider] with the metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies to avoid duplication and reduce chances of overcharge.”