Ghana's main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC)
party is warning international investors that it reserves the right to review
all contracts signed by President John Kufuor's government in its haste to sell
off the country's assets. The NDC is questioning what it describes as the
government's unfortunate haste to sell Ghana Telecom, the nation's
telecommunications giant for a pittance of $900 million to Vodafone, a British
based telecommunications company.
The opposition party contends that the
government has hugely undervalued Ghana Telecom, saying the company's cellular
competitor was purchased for a whopping five billion dollars. But the
government denied the accusations, adding that it wants to generate enough
funds to inject into the country's economy. John Mahama is the NDC vice
presidential candidate in this year's general elections. He tells reporter
Peter Clottey from the capital, Accra that the opposition is not against
have looked at the agreement governing the sale of 70 percent shares to
Vodafone, and we think that it is not conducive to the national interest. We
are not directly against privatization because if you remember in 1997, we sold
30 percent of Ghana Telecom to Telecom Malaysia. But the problem with this
present agreement is that we think that it is an undervaluation of the asset if
you consider what is being thrown into it. There is a national fiber optic
backbone that is being added to the deal that rights the high-tension grid that
belongs to Volta River Authority that is also being added to the deal in
addition to the entire fix network system of Ghana Telecom, and the whole mobile
network. And we think for that package, I mean 900 million (dollars) is
undervaluation," Mahama pointed out.
said the opposition is not convinced President Kufuor's government should
recapitalize the country's telecommunication giant.
we stand, Ghana Telecom is probably still the biggest telephone operator, that
is if you fix their network and the mobile network together with the amount of
optic fiber it controls. And we don't think it has to do recapitalization, I
think that what government wants to do is to sell it (Ghana Telecom) and use
the money to finance the deficit in the budget. Several ministers have said
that the money is needed to close the budget deficit and I think that is why
there is an undue haste by government to sell to Vodafone," he said.
said although parliament is yet to ratify the sale of Ghana Telecom, the
opposition wants to warn investors from hastily signing contracts with
President John Kufuor's outgoing government.
was brought to parliament before we rose and parliament was not able to take
it. And so, as far as I know, until parliament is reconvened, that agreement is
not one that parliament has looked at. We are advising investors. You know,
this government is in its lame duck years, and there seem to be an undue haste
to sell off state owned enterprises before they leave, for what reason I don't
know. But certainly, we are telling investors to be very cautious. I think that
some of these decisions should be left to the next president. There is an undue
haste in these last few months to sell off a lot of state enterprises, and I
think that is not in the national interest," Mahama noted.
said some parliamentarians of the ruling party are against the sale of Ghana
are several members in the majority who think that this sale is not proper, and
that is why the government was not able to take it at the last sitting of
parliament," he said.
said the government is not making enough money for the sale of Ghana Telecom,
which the opposition claims is even more reason why President Kufuor's
government should rescind its decision to sell the telecommunication giant.
know, this sale is for $900 million and it does not include the indebtedness of
Ghana Telecom, which stands at almost $400 million. And so it means essentially
what government is getting out of this whole agreement is $500 million for all
the assets of Ghana Telecom, including Voltacom and the national fiber optic
backbone. And I think that that is not sufficient. It is totally undervalued,"
Mahama pointed out.
a group of concerned Ghanaians have filed a lawsuit to restrain the government
from selling Ghana Telecom. The plaintiffs said the
causes of action for the lawsuit include recklessly causing financial loss to
the state; unlawful disposal of public property; entering into a contract of
sale detrimental to the public interest; undervaluing public property for sale
to a foreign company; and entering into a public agreement without due process.
The group wants the court to revoke the Kufuor government's agreement for the
sale of Ghana Telecom to Vodafone international.