The opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) is demanding the immediate prosecution of all persons indicted in the Smarttys bus branding scandal. NPP’s Director of Communication, Nana Akomea at a news conference held on Tuesday, said attempts by government to shield persons indicted in the Attorney General’s report is a clear indication that the Mahama administration is not serious to fight corruption.
He argued that the scandal “provides another clear case of bad governance, waste of taxpayers’ monies, corruption, non-transparency and weak government response to corruption that has become typical in these seven years of NDC governance.” “The Attorney General has determined and the government has made a public announcement that the law was not followed; the law was broken so that automatically must lead to prosecution as provided for by the law. What is happening is that Smarttys’ and whoever collaborated with them have been asked to just do a refund of the GHc1.9 million extra payment. Where in our laws is this new business of refund of tax payers’ monies that have been stolen. I don’t know which part of law provides for this punishment that when you go and do a deal and you are found out you should just refund.
Background Government’s decision to spend GHc3.6 million of Ghana’s oil revenue on branding some 116 Metro Mass Transit (MMT) buses has been widely criticized and described as reckless. The scandal compelled the Transport Minister, Dzifa Attivor to resign after a massive public outcry. The Chief of Staff, Julius Debrah, subsequently ordered the Attorney General to investigate the matter after which Smarttys was ordered to refund the excess payments made.
Meanwhile a leaked Attorney General’s investigation report suggests that the contract with Smarttys was commenced and concluded long before the procurement process started, a conduct that violated the nation’s procurement laws. “The re-branding by Smarttys was commenced and concluded even before the procurement process began. This fact has been confirmed by both Smarttys and the Ministry of Transport. They attribute this lapse to the urgency attached to re-branding and spraying of the buses,” the report noted. “An analysis of the documents clearly shows that several public officers were involved in the procurement and payment process. We therefore recommend that all officers who handled any aspect of these processes flouted the laid down legislation should be investigated by the Economic and Organised Crime Office [EOCO].”