As Govt’s Probe Vindicates Subah Infosolutions and The Herald
A Government committee, set up to investigate the alleged payment of GH¢144 million to Subah InfoSolutions Ghana Limited by the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) for no work done, has exonerated the private IT firm as confirmed by The Herald’s painstaking investigative reports on the contract sometime, last year and early this year.
Subah, was contracted by the GRA in 2010 to provide telecom traffic monitoring services for revenue verification for the tax agency.
The report said, the contract which became the definition of grand corruption for the New Patriotic Party (NPP), the opposition pressure group Alliance For Accountable Governance (AFAG), as well as the NPP-linked think tank, IMANI Ghana, was legally awarded and cannot be terminated.
Accra-based Joy FM, quotes the report as saying, Subah justifiably incurred cost in executing the contract for which reason it was paid ¢74.3 million, contrary to the reported GH¢144 million for services rendered.
The report, however, admits that Subah failed to fully execute its contract, but blamed this on the unwillingness of Telecom companies to allow Subah to attach equipment that will independently monitor revenue declared.
It has, therefore, negotiated a 1 per cent reduction in Subah’s charges.
A letter from the Presidency signed by the Executive Secretary to the President, Dr. Raymond A. Atuguba, to the Finance Minister stated that “His Excellency, the president has accepted the recommendations of the committee set up on the service agreement between Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) and Subah InfoSolutions Ghana Limited.”
Subah InfoSolutions. was contracted by the GRA in 2010 to monitor domestic call data records for the collection of appropriate taxes from telecommunication companies in the country.
The move, was in accordance with the communication services tax (Amendment) Act 2013 (Act 864), which requires telecommunication companies to grant the Minister of Finance physical access to their facilities to monitor their call data records for tax purposes.
The GRA, acting on behalf of the Minister of Finance, contracted Subah to undertake that task, with an agreement to pay Subah 13.5 per cent of incremental revenue collected thereof.
Government in October last year, announced the commencement of an investigation into the payment which attracted huge public outcry precipitated by the erroneous media report by Metro TV’s Samuel Agyemang saying, Subah was getting monies for no job done.
He suggested a grand scheme of corruption had been created to siphon public money into private pockets.
In May, 2013 the Minister of Finance, tasked a Committee made up of representatives from the Ministry of Finance, Ghana Revenue Authority, National Communications Authority, Ministry of Finance and Attorney General, and SUBAH InfoSolutions to review and renegotiate the Service Agreement, between the Revenue Agencies Governing Board (RAGB) and Subah InfoSolutions.
The Committee was further directed to ascertain whether the agreement can be set aside, because it was signed by the Chairman of RAGB.
But the committee was firm in its report saying, “From the foregoing, it is clear that the board chairman acted within the confines of the law and therefore had the capacity to sign the agreement. Accordingly, the agreement cannot be set aside on the ground that the board chairman, who signed the contract, did not have the capacity to do so.”
But the President and Founder of the NPP policy think tank IMANI Ghana, Franklin Cudjoe, has rejected the Committee’s report, citing among others, the inability to involve any telcos – an offending party in the investigative Committee.
He criticized the report and asserted that it should not be allowed to stand, because it smacks of a Kangaroo court sitting. There was no fair hearing in the committee’s work, he stressed.
Franklin Cudjoe told Joy FM’s Top Story that he was “extremely worried” about the government’s acceptance of the report, describing it as a broad day robbery.
He was bereft of appropriate adjectives to describe the report as he struggled to make sense of the whole report. “I don’t want to call it a fraud,” he flared.
Even though the contract started in June 2010 and was expected to end in June 2015, subject to renewal, he noted that the first time the revenue authority officially wrote to the telcos to allow Subah to install a system to monitor their revenue was in 28th October 2013.
Interestingly, the law that gives backing to the communications service tax, which gave birth to the contract, was actually passed in July 2013, he remarked. “Again you can’t be working before the law was actually passed for the very activity you were supposed to undertake.”
Moreover, Franklin Cudjoe intimated that Subah has since 2010, done no work to be paid any amount.
Obviously appalled by the Committee’s report, he stressed, “I don’t understand how anybody can legitimize this thievery…”
He described the negotiated one percent reduction in Subah charges from 13.5 per cent to 12.5 per cent as an insult and wondered where the country is heading towards.
The reduction is nothing to celebrate, saying it would be strange for one to jubilate when [a thief drops a few coins in his yard after robbing you of huge sums of money].
Summing up his opinion on the report, Franklin Cudjoe noted, “it is invalid, it must be rebuffed. We must ensure that the Committee never, never appends its name to any legitimate resolution concerning the whole Subah issue.”
The NPP is yet to speak on the matter, but the Director of Operations for the pressure group, AFAG, Abu Ramadan, is asking government to provide reasons for the exoneration of technology company, Subah Infosolutions Ghana Limited of any charges.
Speaking to Citi News, Mr. Ramadan said, the report leaves much to be desired.
“We want to challenge government with this particular Subah matter to tell us on what basis or what grounds that government arrived at the decision that Subah can’t be blamed or Subah did the rightful duty,” he insisted.
“Money has gone down the drain, pesewas has gone down the drain, as we have all seen in these last years. For that matter, AFAG won’t accept this,” he stressed.