Against Ghana Gas takeover
Board Chairman of the Ghana National Gas Company (GNGC), Prof. Kwesi Botchwey, has declared Jerry Rawlings’ “Positive Defiance”, against the Energy Ministry and the Ministry of Finance, vowing to resist any attempt to reconstitute the Governing Board of the company, until all the takeover processes are complete.
Reports are that the Energy Ministry will soon reconstitute the Ghana Gas Board, but Prof. Botchwey; a revolutionary who is credited for turning around the country’s economy, when he served in the Jerry Rawlings regime, has warned that he would not allow members of the Board to be treated as “minions and sycophants”.
Meanwhile, Prof. Kwesi Botchwey, a respected economist and law lecturer, has petitioned President John Dramani Mahama, on the takeover of Ghana Gas by the GNPC.
The petition, as well as further investigations by The Herald, is bringing out some interesting details.
First, is the high level of frustration suffered by management of Ghana Gas, since its establishment in 2012.
It has also revealed various attempts by people in government to have the now enviable asset killed at birth.
Available information, suggest lack of teamwork among appointees of the present government and this paper learnt that in the course of that period, the President, John Dramani Mahama, had to intervene many times to get people back on track to get the project to where it is presently.
A typical example of the absence of teamwork. is what surfaced last week, when the Ghana Gas Board Chairman, publicly mentioned in his press statement that his outfit was never informed about the intended takeover of the facility, except to learn from the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning; Seth Terkper, when he delivered the 2015 Budget Statement in Parliament.
This paper, has also learnt what seems like a misplaced priority at the Energy Ministry, when it comes to the regulatory role of the gas project vis-à-vis the crude exploration by GNPC.
The Herald, has chanced upon the petition sent to President Mahama dated December 1, 2014, and signed by former Finance Minister in the ex-President Jerry John Rawlings regime.
Prof. Botchwey, though acknowledged the authority of government to decide and determine the operating model that state enterprises should pursue, begged that the takeover decision is reviewed.
The seven-page document, respectfully expressed his reservation on the takeover, saying if the takeover of the gas company was as a result of finances, then the company was secured in that respect.
He assured that “GNPC, as has been announced, has already secured its future cash flows with its recent acquisition of the USD700M loan facility that is backed by a sales agreement with Trafigura for the sale of GNPC’s entitlement to the Jubilee Oil over the next few years.
GNPC is, therefore clearly limited in its ability to raise additional funds to pursue other activities”.
The petition continued that “GhanaGas, as an independent company, has entered into the appropriate agreements with the Jubilee Partners for the tie-in and commercial supply of raw natural gas. GhanaGas has also entered into agreements with GNPC for the transfer of assets, as well as the purchase of the 200BCF of raw natural gas allocated to the State for the development of the gas infrastructure project”.
He revealed that “the decision to now have GNPC to develop upcoming gas infrastructure to the exclusion of GhanaGas is a derogation from GhanaGas’ core mandate as the national gas aggregate, which was approved by Cabinet decision in May 2012. The import of that decision was to have GhanaGas lead the investment collaboration with the other gas production companies to expand the gas infrastructure and ensure the appropriate synergies, while GNPC concentration on maximizing the value from upstream exploration activities in the country”.
He noted yet again that if the decision was driven by structural reasons, then those reasons were not manifestly articulated.
He stated among others that “There are clear distinctions in the mandate of GhanaGas and GNPC” adding that “the different mandate of GhanaGas and GNPC follow a model that most countries use to optimize the developmental and economic benefits of their petroleum resources. We humbly suggest that GhanaGas be allowed to remain as presently structured”, he added.
Sequel to Prof. Botchwey’s December 1 petition, he last week, issued a statement rejecting the Energy Ministry’s claims that the takeover of Ghana Gas was complete, insisting he knew nothing about the takeover.
The ministry responded by putting out letters written to the Board informing it of the takeover. However, it turns out that the letters got to the offices of the GNGC at 5:53pm after close of work on Friday, December 12, 2014.
The former Finance Minister, accused the Energy Ministry of lying to Ghanaians when it said it officially informed management and Board of Ghana Gas of the takeover.
“If it does happen that this new owner [GNPC] ordered such changes in the Board, I will not be fooled. I will take it to mean that this is a decision that government has taken…there are procedures for appointing and removing Board Members and these procedures must be followed,” the GNGC Chair told Joy News’ George Wiafe.
He insisted that strict adherence to the laws governing the takeover process must be followed saying; “we are a country of laws; this is not just a jungle.
“If all you want is gas and no process is required [then] why don’t we just [may be] kill everybody and have a foreign investor bring a battalion of foreign workers and do it and give us the gas?
“I’m sure there are many who would like to hog the glory. They see luscious low hanging fruit which is tempting to just go [and] grab it,” the former Finance Minister fumed.
He wondered, “why this whole business has to be done so crudely and as it turned out so duplicitously”.
He said, the current Board would “remain respectful to the authority that appointed us, but we are not just minions that can be ordered about and treated with discourtesy”.