Minister of Agriculture Fifi Kwetey says the controversial memo from the Africa Development Bank sanctioning Ghana for its supposed indebtedness was inconsequential and ought not to have come to Ghana.
The Minister said the 18 February memo, which the Editor of the New Crusading Guide Newspaper Malik Kweku Baako intercepted and made available on Newsfile last Saturday, had no business coming to Ghana because at the time it came Ghana had settled all its indebtedness to the Bank.
He stated the memo to Ghana was an aberration and should have gone to either Djibouti or Sudan.
In a new twist to the debt and sanctions scandal that have rocked Ghana and the African Development Bank, the Minister of Agriculture said the man who triggered this whole scandal-Dr Mahamudu Bawumia- was mischievous and deceitful, adding if he [Bawumia] was minded, he would have known that the genuine error committed by the bank was corrected with dispatch, 34 long days before Bawumia gave his lecture.
He said at no point was Ghana in arrears to the Bank and any letter which sought to communicate a state of indebtedness should have been dismissed.
Chronicling the dates and processes involved in Ghana's debt settlement to AfDB, the minister emphatically stated that Ghana had before January 21, 2015 settled all its indebtedness to the bank.
"As at December 10, 2014 the Ministry of Finance had authorised the payment to the account of AfDB. That is the beginning of the process . On December 17 payment warrant released and signed by the Director of Budget. That is a fact and that is verifiable.
"On December 23, 2014, the letter was dispatched to the Controller and Accountant General and from there it went to the Bank of Ghana.
"The first payment was done. Four currency payments were done and they were swift payment that were sent to the account of the AfDB," he narrated.
He said the Euro currency with a reference number of FT1501510573 was paid into the account of the AfDB on January 15, 2015.
On the same day, the Pounds version with reference number FT1501568924 was sent to the HSBC. He said the final payment in the Yen currency was made on the 21st January.
"As far as the government of Ghana is concerned this payment had been done and we are not in arrears and had no business being placed under sanctions," he stated.
Bawumia's mischievous world Cup trophy
Fifi Kwetey said the AfDB's internal memo which Dr Bawumia made reference to during his lecture at the Central University and which he "clutched onto like a world Cup trophy" was dated 17th February, 2015, one month after the government had settled its debts to the Bank.
He said shortly after that memo was issued, the bank came to explain it was an administrative error.
However, another letter, "a mistaken letter, a letter that is null and void, a letter that is inconsequential was sent to the Director of Debt Management division" announcing the Bank's sanctions to Ghana for its indebtedness.
He said given the fact that Ghana had paid its debts, the Director of debt Management Samuel Ameyaw could have dismissed the memo but quickly alerted the bank about the mistake.
He could not say whether the alert from Ameyaw to AfDB was in writing, except to indicate that hours after the Bank's attention was drawn to the mistake they issued another memo correcting it.
"That same day, the18th February, 2015 the AfDB in a memo prepared to the Board of Governments of the AfDB clearly brought the list of countries on sanctions and conspicuously missing in that list is Ghana because Ghana had no business being in that list.
"That 18th of February appears to be 34 long days before Bawumia's lecture so whichever source gave him that wrong memo was in the position to update him.
"Nine days before his lecture, ie on the 13th March, another internal memo came almost as if for the avoidance of doubt if you have any business of doing mischief please this one should emphasise that you should not go ahead.
"But Dr Bawumia totally ignored all those and went before poor students of the Central University and deceived them and deceived Ghana," he chided.
When the minister was asked to give the reference number to the letter by the bank correcting the initial mistake, Fifi Kwetey said he could not immediately provide that, but was quick to add that much bigger evidence in the two memos issued by the Bank to the Board of governments of African countries as well as the March 13 memo indicating that Ghana was not part of the list of sanctioned countries was available and he could provide that.
On March 22, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia stated in a lecture at the 4th Distinguished Speakers Forum organised by the Central University that Ghana's economic situation had become so dire it was indebted to the AfDB and that Ghana had been placed under sanctions.
He was speaking to a memo he had intercepted from the bank.
The Bank quickly issued a rejoinder saying Ghana was not under any form of sanctions because it had paid its debts. The Bank added that the memo announcing the sanctions was an administrative error.
The government quickly waded into the controversy demanding an apology from Dr Bawumia for misleading the country.
However, the Editor in Chief of the Crusading Guide Newspaper Kweku Baako Jnr intercepted a letter written by the Bank to Ghana announcing Ghana's indebtedness and the sanctions.
Kweku Baako Jnr accused both the AfDB and the government of lying when they created the impression that at no point was Ghana indebted to the Bank or even sanctioned for its indebtedness.
But Fifi Kwetey maintains both the memo which Dr Bawumia made reference to in his lecture and the letter Kweku Baako Jnr intercepted were errors AfDB had made and it was normal under banking practices.
He was emphatic however that Bawumia had the benefit of knowing that the errors had been corrected and yet went ahead to peddle falsehood.
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