Govt Blows $40m On dictionaries

The Ministry of Education (MoE) is reportedly entering into a $40 million contract which sources say looks bizarre and dodgy.

The contract, which is said to have already gone to tender, is meant for the supply of English Dictionaries for Basic Schools, with payment slated for the year 2017, even in the event that the National Democratic Congress (NDC) administration leaves power.

The payment arrangement in the contract has raised eyebrows as to the propriety of the entire deal.

The deal is coming on the heels of a similar dodgy contract of $44 million for the printing of Atlases for basic schools which debt is yet to be settled with the publishers – Approachers.

Contradictions Galore
An open tender document prepared last September with ITF No. MOE/DIC/ICT/01/2015, sighted by DAILY GUIDE, showed that the NDC administration contradicted itself on how it was going to raise the funds to pay the company that would eventually win the bid to supply the dictionaries.

In one breadth, the document states that the government, acting through the sector ministry, intended to apply part of its ‘budgetary allocations to cover eligible payments under contracts for the supply and distribution of English Dictionaries to Public Basic Schools in Ghana.’

However, in another span, the same ministry says it is the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund) that is going to be the source of funding.

A source at GETFund told DAILY GUIDE that the Fund was not aware of any dictionary procurement.

Payment Arrangements
Even though the tender document says budgetary allocation had been made, strangely the payment arrangement has been done such that the first tranche is expected to be released in 2017, even when budget for 2016 has not yet be released.

‘The terms of payment shall be: 50 percent payment to be made by March 2017. Next 25 percent by August 2017 and final 25 percent payable by November 2017,’ the document indicated.

The intention to make the payment in 2017 makes the deal look strange because a new government (whether the president is retained in office or not) will be at the helm. No provision for mobilisation had been made.

GETFund’s Incapability
The GETFund is already struggling to live up to its responsibilities and is said to be saddled with huge bills as a result of the government’s failure to make statutory payment to the Fund; and saddling it with another huge payment would put it in further danger.

Currently, the Scholarship Secretariat has not been able to release bursary for students on government scholarships both in Ghana and overseas because the payment from GETFund has reportedly delayed.

Settlement Of Dispute
If dispute arose, the document said the purchaser and supplier were entitled to arbitration in accordance with the provisions of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) for contracts entered with foreign suppliers and those entered into with suppliers from Ghana would have recourse to arbitration in accordance with the laws of Ghana.

Ayariga Atlas
It will be recalled that in 2011, then Deputy Minister of Education Mahama Ayariga was embroiled in a $44 million contract for the supply of Atlases for basic schools.

The contract created furore among the public, questions being raised about the propriety of the entire deal.

According to inside sources, the Ministry of Education couldn’t raise money to pay, leading to the publishers (Approachers and others) heading to court before part of the money was paid.

The five publishers and their allocations were: Approachers Ghana Ltd, $25 million; EPP Books Services, $7.5 million; Winmat Publishers Ltd, $5.5 million; Adwinsa Publishers, $5 million and Sedco Publishing Ltd, $1 million—all totalling $43,996,000.

Unconfirmed reports say the NDC government still owes $20.5 million to the Atlas publishers.

By William Yaw Owusu

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