Tag: Bank of Ghana


Greed and corruption as corporate bodies and top executives in Ghana siphon off state funds

During the Atta Mills-Mahama led administration, there was massive back-log in non-payment of salaries of workers in Ghana. More than ten thousand nurses and teachers remained unpaid for more than two years. Doctors and pharmacists were also victims of non-payment of salaries. Many more workers are weeping for similar reasons. There is a problem of non-payments of monies meant for national health insurance scheme (NHIS) drug providers and also service providers and food suppliers for school feeding programme for so many years. Yet huge salaries paid to top executives each month get to their accounts without fail.

Indeed under the previous NDC government, a lot of financial wastage occurred in the system. Millions of Ghana cedis spilled like leaked oil and no action was taken by Mahama’s administration to retrieve these monies squandered by individuals and companies.

Former CEO of Cocobod Dr Opuni

Mahama’s government voted GHc1.8 billion to Cocobod to purchase 800 tons of cocoa beans. Dr Opuni, who was then the Chief Executive Officer, bought only 300 tons. He was never queried about what happened to the rest of the money until the NPP came to power. He was immediately relieved of his appointment and corruption charges were preferred against him. His dismissal led to a startling revelation of amazing salaries received by certain CEOs in Ghana. Some of these are more than three or four times the salary received by the President.

The CEO of Cocobod, Dr Opuni takes home a whopping amount of GHc77,000 which is 770 million old cedis monthly! This does not include allowances, free fuel supply and free accommodation. The CEO of Bank of Ghana earns GHc89,000 every month, allowances and other benefits excluded. Let us see the monthly salaries of other CEOs in other corporate organisations: the CEO of Ghana Revenue Authority takes home a cool GHc85,000 each month plus allowances and other benefits. The Boss of SSNIT is paid each month GHc76,000, while the Director and CEO of Agricultural Development Bank (ADB) pockets GHc85,000 as his monthly salary excluding allowance and other benefits. The boss of National Investment Bank (NIB), takes home GHc65,000 and the CEO of BOST receives GHc62,000. The list continues with the boss of Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) also receiving GHc52000. The CEO of Ghana Commercial Bank (GCB) is paid “only” GHc55000. The list is just endless. These above-mentioned CEOs have top security men in their homes who are either policemen or staff from top security companies. They have three or four cars at their disposal. They have cooks, drivers, gardeners and cleaners. This group of people are paid by the companies. I believe you all agree with me that with such huge salaries allotted to top executives, it is not surprising that the government was unable to pay certain groups of workers like doctors, nurses, teachers and others who have not been paid for more than two years.

Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) is a licensed distributor of petroleum related activities in Ghana. It is an agency responsible for the importation of crude oil and petroleum. When the GNPC was established to replace the Ministry of fuel and power, it was the objective of the government of Ghana to supply reliable and adequate supply of petroleum in Ghana and the discovery and exploration of crude oil in its territories. GNPC grew steadily in the area of oil production. However, after five years of the corporation’s existence, there was vast misuse of Ghana’s oil revenue on a large scale. There was complete absence of transparency and accountability in awarding oil blocks among others and denying Ghanaians the full use of the oil resource. A big chunk of the money accruing lands in the pockets of top executives. The top executives turned GNPC into a den of robbers, grabbing whatever money that came handy. Consequently, the chief executive of the corporation was arrested and tried at the fast track court on three counts of wilfully causing financial loss to the state to the tune of GH¢230,000 which he, on behalf of PNDC guaranteed a loan for Valley Farms a private company, and one count of misapplying public funds. He is said to have misappropriated GHc2million of GNPC funds to buy shares in Valley Farms. He was found guilty on all counts and sentenced to five years in prison.

Greed and corruption by the board of trustees at the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) have put the future of both formal and informal workers in jeopardy. According to the Association of Accountable Governance (AFAG), they foresee a bleak and miserable pension benefit for retirees. This is because the current board of trustees of SSNIT have sold and are aggressively selling off what is left of their investments. Where a chunk of the money will go is anybody’s guess.

Not long ago, workers shares in First Atlantic and Merchant banks were sold. The Trust hospital was sold and SSNIT Guest house was also put for sale. It is a known fact that National Trust Holding Company (NTHC) is a company that has been blacklisted by 2007 auditor’s report as unfit to manage public funds. It is, however, very unfortunate and disheartening that SSNIT has sold the scheme of the informal sector to NTHC, a blacklisted company. AFAG organized the workers in a mammoth meeting to protest against the board at SSNIT who are selfish and self-seeking at the expense of workers livelihood.

Indeed greed and corruption among top executives and corporate bodies have condoned corruption for a very long time. Ghanaians are waiting to see if greed and corruption will persist under Nana Addo‘s government or be relegated to history. Bribery, over-invoicing, gargantuan salaries and sole-sourcing are difficult problems hanging on the heads of Ghanaian governments like the sword of Damocles. Those guilty of such greed and corruption includes DVLA, the Police and customs and passport office. Very often, monies paid at these places are not backed by receipts. This means such monies land in the pockets of the personnel. A survey conducted by Ghana Integrity and anti-corruption consortium confirmed the afore-mentioned bodies as worst off when it comes to bribery and corruption. DVLA and the passport office deliberately delay the issue of driver’s licenses and passports. They have created around the offices those they call, ”goro boys.” These boys are working for the top officials. A driver’s license that will take you three months or more to get is obtained for you within a day or two by a ”goro boy” at five times the normal cost. Guess who gets all these monies. The top officials, of course.

Will the surprise visit by Alhaji Mumuni Bawumia to the passport office help to reduce corruption? Is Nana Addo eager and fully prepared to fight greed and corruption? Is he willing to prosecute the corrupt officials of the past government? Nana Addo’s government is just three months old and I believe all he can achieve or do to get all stolen monies into state coffers lies within the womb of time.

By Stephen Atta Owusu
Author: Dark Faces at Crossroads

Do Citizens of Brong Ahafo deserve this treatment? What next?

The Brongs have always been excited and proud of Mahama for choosing a wife from the region. However, their love, trust and confidence for Mahama were badly shaken when the president disappointingly failed to help frustrated customers in the region whose accounts with three micro-finance companies were frozen through no fault of theirs, as a result of closure of these banks by the government and the Bank of Ghana. They have vowed that if their brother and son-in-law, President John Dramani Mahama, does not intervene to hasten the release of their monies locked in the frozen accounts, they will turn Nkoranza and the other affected areas into a living hell for government employees. The banks that were closed down include DKM and God’s Love micro-finance companies. They were closed down in May 2015.

cocoa farmers in Brong Ahafo

cocoa farmers in Brong Ahafo

Let me give a brief history of the Brong Ahafo region. The region was created on 4th April 1959 by the Brong Ahafo Act No.18 of 1959. The Act defined the area of the Brong Ahafo Region to consist of the northern and the western parts of the then Ashanti region. It also included Prang and Yeji areas. Before the enactment of the Act, these two towns formed part of the Northern region. Brong Ahafo region has a vast amount of rain forest, timber trees and cocoa farms. Their serious approach to farming has created many rich men and women in areas like Berekum, Dormaa, Nkoranza, Techiman and Kintampo. Many Brongs who travelled to Germany, USA and other countries in the late 70s and 80s were heavily sponsored by these rich cocoa farmers and when they became successful they bought Mercedes Benz and other luxury cars for these farmers who sponsored them. The Micro-finance companies went into these areas because of the riches in the area and the unsuspecting innocence of the people.

These micro-finance companies announced an incredibly high interest rate of 50% on any amount one saved. The people began to open accounts with the financial institutions. Many customers, including farmers, businessmen and women, politicians and students lodged vast sums of money into the accounts with the hope of retrieving 50% interest on their savings. One weeping customer confessed that he savedghana_cedi GHc2.5million which was money sent to him by his brother living abroad, to use for the storey building he intends to build. Other customers had saved between GHc3000 to GHc15million! Yet Bank of Ghana could not alert the customers that no bank can pay 50% interest to customers. According to some of the customers, they were encouraged or lured to save there because of the encouraging recommendation of these companies by the first lady, Mrs Lordinna Mahama – an allegation she flatly denied. To the utter disbelief of customers, the Bank of Ghana closed down the three micro-finance companies and all accounts were frozen. The establishment and closure of these institutions clearly revealed the incompetence and deliberate refusal to oversee or supervise these financial institutions. As a result they took undue advantage to operate illegally as they failed to comply with the terms and conditions stipulated in their licences. They also failed to hold sufficient assets to meet their liabilities to depositors. The former Governor of Bank of Ghana and the officials allowed the micro-finance institutions too much room to operate and therefore must be held responsible for making these unsuspecting customers worst affected by their actions and inactions.

 

It was a red-letter day for the people of Brong Ahafo, especially the customers, who were badly shaken. The customers could not contain the shock and it was confirmed by the MP of Berekum East that three customers collapsed and died.

wpid-nigerian-banks-are-financially-stable-cbn-channelsThis unfortunate situation has created general poverty and frustration for the people in the affected areas. In Nkoranza alone, about 90% of people living there had deposited their monies with those micro-finance companies. Pupils and students are the worst sufferers in the affected areas. Most of them remained at home due to the inability of their parent’s to pay their fees. Farmers in these areas who saved heavily in these companies can no longer invest in their farming businesses, and even when they fall sick they cannot go to hospital because all what they worked for have been locked in these accounts. They have no hope of getting their monies back. Out of worry, frustration, hardship and poverty they have threatened to invoke curses on both the government and government workers if their accounts are not released.

 

Concerns have been shown by many including the Brong Ahafo regional security council. The latter held series of meetings with Bank of Ghana and the micro-finance companies in a move to resolve the crisis. How far did all the meetings go? Those desperate customers still have no idea when their monies would be released to them. Eric Opoku, the Regional minister, also added his voice while supporting the position of the Regional Security service (REGSEC). He called on the Bank of Ghana to consider de-freezing the accounts of the aggrieved customers and the affected companies. Why is Mahama and his government so silent and adamant? At what point will the president intervene?

 

President Mahama

President Mahama

The recent step taken by the Bank of Ghana to take DKM to court and put their hands on their properties does not convince the troubled customers. According to them, what the Central bank should have done even before these micro-finance companies could establish in Brong Ahafo was to have checked on how much money they were going to inject into their operation, whether these companies were legally and fully registered to commence business or not, whether these companies had beefed up their staff strength with persons with requisite qualification and, lastly, whether a competent board had been put in place. All these were not checked and before their illegal operations and diabolic intentions became known, they had swindled these unsuspecting customers of millions of Ghana cedis. Despite the customers’ mistrust of the Bank of Ghana, they see the action taken by the bank to be in their supreme interest which is geared towards protecting them from losing both their monies and interests. Despite all explanations the affected customers still believe that Mahama and his government have a hand in their plight.

 

The entire members of parliament of Brong Ahafo have expressed their regret over the plight of the Bank-of-Ghana-BoG-buildingcustomers in Brong Ahafo and the action of the bank which has brought sorrows to many and sudden deaths to three customers. The Brong Ahafo minister also added his voice and confirmed that the action of the bank has affected customers emotionally, economically and psychologically. The region’s MPs came together in one accord to put pressure on Bank of Ghana to speed up investigations so that affected customers can ultimately get their money back. However, Dr. Kwabena Twum Nuamah, MP for Berekum East, in his interview at Joy News said that the situation is terrible and that he sees no light at the end of the tunnel with many customers losing all their capital. He warned of a massive demonstration if nothing positive is heard from Bank of Ghana.

 

Despite these unfortunate incidents and the hardships brought onto the people with locked monies in those illegal financial institutions, the citizens of Brong Ahafo went back to their farms. The farmers, especially those in the Sampa area, harvested tons of cashew nuts. Foreign buyers were on the spot to buy tons of cashew nuts from the farmers. As if what the micro-finance companies did to the Brongs were not enough, the Ministry of Trade and Industry imposed a ban on raw cashew exports and said that they were going to buy and process them before exporting them. According to the ministry, this would add value to the product and create jobs in the area. What angered the farmers was the ridiculously low prices they were going to offer farmers. The foreign buyers have disappeared and tons of cashew nuts that could have reached foreign markets got rotten due to the ban imposed on the commodity by the Ministry.

 

Spontaneous and effective protests were launched by both farmers and MPs in the affected areas cashew-prices-009because apart from buying them at lower prices, the factories available have the capacity to process only 35,000 bags out of the 950,000 produced by the farmers. This means that what the foreign buyers could buy at a go will be left to rot. Serious concerns and threats were issued by the leaders of the cashew farmers. One of the leaders, Mr. Mumuni Issah, said that if the ban is not lifted by the end of May 2016, the processing plants will not be allowed to buy cashew from the region. This is because the farmers have invested a lot in the expansion of their farms and they will need enough money to pay for their loans and also money to ensure their livelihood and that of their families. But with only two processing plants available, and the lower price they give coupled with the Ministry’s inability to buy all the 950,000 bags, the farmers will remain impoverished as they are going to be at the mercy of the two processing plants. Luckily enough, the Ministry of trade and Industries could not contain the pressure from the farmers and the Brong Ahafo MPs and they finally gave up and lifted the ban.

 

The people of Brong Ahafo are no fools. The region has hardworking farmers who have greatly contributed to Ghana’s development in terms of food products, timber and bush meat. They should be held in high esteem and not be taken for granted. With the resignation of the governor of the Central bank, the prospect and hope of the affected customers to get their monies back have dwindled. The indifference of president Mahama and his government is not helping matters.

 

By Stephen Atta Owusu
Author: Dark Faces at Crossroads
Email: stephen.owusu@email.com