SML/GRA contract controversy: National interest must prevail – Prof. Seidu Alidu

Professor Seidu Alidu, a political scientist, says ongoing investigations into the five-year consolidated contract between the Strategic Mobilisation Limited (SML) and Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) must serve the national interest.

He said the investigations into the contract must be extended to unravel corporate and individual interests if any wrongdoing in the award and execution of the contract was established.

In an interview with the Ghana News Agency, Prof. Alidu , who is the Head of the Political Science Department, University of Ghana, commended President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo for ordering an immediate audit of the contract.

The GRA contracted SML in 2019 to undertake revenue assurances services.

The agreement between the two entities was to boost revenue assurances in the downstream petroleum sector, upstream petroleum production, and the value chain for minerals and metals resources.

Following an investigative report into the operations of the SML by the Fourth Estate, some organisations
, including the Minority in Parliament, have since questioned the deal, claiming that it was riddled with flaws in its execution.

President Akufo-Addo has since appointed KPMG, the reputable Audit, Tax and Advisory Services firm, to undertake an audit of the contract to ensure transparency and accountability in the execution of the contractual arrangement.

Prof. Alidu said he was confident that both the opponents of the contract and SML all had the interest of the nation at heart, adding that full-scale investigations of the issue would help to arrive at a conclusion that would lead to the protection of the public purse.

‘We are not sure who is telling the right story. I think we should applaud the President for taking keen interest in the issue and ordering KPMG audit.

‘But I believe that to be able to properly understand this issue, we need to first of all find the actors that are involved; both corporate and individual actors and the interests that they have in that particular project,’ he said.

Alidu cautioned that ‘we are going to protect the interests of individuals if we are not careful.’

‘If care is not taken, we may end up not being able to protect the public purse and be able to get accountability and fight corruption,’ he added.

The President has given the KPMG two weeks to submit a report on its findings, along with suitable recommendations, and has directed the Ministry of Finance and the GRA to provide KPMG with all help needed to undertake the audit.

He has also directed the Ministry of Finance and the GRA to suspend the performance of the contract, pending the submission of the audit report, including payments presently envisaged under its terms.

Source: Ghana News Agency