Boakye Agyarko, Energy Minister
Government has reportedly withdrawn the re-negotiated deal the Ministry of Energy signed with Africa & Middle East Resources Investment Group, otherwise known as AMERI Group.
The supposed new deal has sparked heated controversy regarding the amount involved since it was put before parliament for approval before the house went on recess last week.
It was the then Mahama-led NDC government that first signed the Built Own Operate and Transfer (BOOT) agreement with AMERI sometime in 2015 for the supply of 256mw of power but when it emerged that Ghana was losing about $150million as a result of the lack of due diligence on the part of officials who negotiated the deal, the new NPP government decided to investigate the whole transaction by setting up a ministerial committee.
At the time, the 17-member committee chaired by lawyer Phillip Addison after investigations recommended to the government that it should call back owners of the Dubai-based company for re-negotiation and advised that should the company refuse to honour the invitation for re-negotiation, the government should renounce the agreement on grounds of fraud.
The initial deal AMERI signed with the NDC government had a total of $510 million for five years with the applicable tariff charge for Ghana at U.S. cents 14.5918/KWh.
The new deal presented to parliament by Energy Minister Boakye Agyarko would have seen a new company, Mytilineous International Trading Company, taking over from AMERI at a proposed capacity charge of 3.8052 US cents/KWh for a 15-year period with an applicable tariff charge of U.S. cent 11.7125/KWh; two and a half years into Ghana owning the power plant.
But cabinet had withdrawn the letter sent to parliament, giving executive backing to the new deal.
In the ensuing heat, there has been an emergence of a letter purportedly coming from AMERI claiming that it was not involved in the discussions about the revised power deal, a claim the ministry is currently disputing.
AMERI Energy in the said letter addressed to Mr. Agyarko indicated that it was not aware of the new power deal, saying, “We have recently been following the news circulating in the media about the Novation of Ameri BOOT Agreement. For purposes of the said novation, we were given an impression by the new party that all the permits, permissions and requisite approvals from the stakeholders (ie. Ministry of Finance, Attorney General’s Office, VRA, PURC) have been obtained before presenting this amended draft to the cabinet and the president for approval.”
“As you are fully aware, we have never been involved with your ministry in any kind of negotiations or discussions related to this Novation and Amendment Agreement. Moreover, also never had insight of any commercial discussion between you and the new party, therefore could not have verified that the above permissions were not obtained at the time of presentation before the parliament,” the letter stated.”
AMERI threatened to sue the government for unpaid arrears
“Through this letter, we would like to serve you this final notice of default of our outstanding payment of $82,660,560, duly acknowledged by you through your memo presented to the Parliament dated 25th of July 2018. In this respect, several notices have been duly served and received by your ministry, but no remedial action has been taken.”
“We would like to draw your attention that in the event that your ministry does not settle our outstanding payments immediately, we will be left with no option but to draw down on the standby letter of credit (SBLC) to recover part of our outstanding payments and adopt the legal remedy available to us,” the letter warned.
Interestingly, a separate letter of July 24, 2018, with reference number AME/LT/GHA/00/18/014, signed by Maher Al Alili, Acting CEO of AMERI Energy, is showing that AMERI purportedly authorised its Ghanaian representative called Nicholas Mawuse Addo to “initial” the Novation and amendment agreement on the company’s behalf.
Nana Damoah, who is a spokesperson of the Ministry of Energy, confirmed on Citi FM in Accra over the weekend that AMERI asked its local representative to be part of the negotiations for the revised deal and also said the ministry did not have a copy of the denial letter purportedly coming from AMERI.
“We have received no such letter [of denial]…. We are (rather) in a possession of a letter of authorization that AMERI Energy gave to an individual to initiate the agreement. So if, indeed, AMERI did author that letter [of denial], then that position is a direct contradiction of what they have authored earlier and so we have enough grounds to question the authenticity of the document that is making the rounds. The letter of authorization gave permission to an individual to sign the agreement which was presented to parliament. What this meant was that they are in agreement to the terms of the deal that was laid before parliament,” he said.
By William Yaw Owusu