Thursday, 19 February 2015

A Few More Questions For The Hon. Mahama Ayariga About The Jeep Grand Cherokee SUVs Presented To The Black Stars

The Hon. Mahama Ayariga has stated emphatically that the government did not pay for the Jeep Grand Cherokee SUVs, presented to the Black Stars, by Tanink Motors - for placing second in the just-ended 2015 African Cup of Nations soccer tournament, held in Equatorial Guinea. Fair enough, some would say.

However, to ensure that the doubting-Thomases in the Ghanaian media world, don't start asking the Hon. Mahama Ayariga more  questions on the subject, he and the management of Tanink Motors, would be wise to make further disclosures - in order to clarify what they have put in the public domain, thus far.

Apparently, the CEO of Tanink Motors,  Mr. Roger Klogo, says the amount involved in the exemptions from paying import duty on the said vehicles for the Black Stars, obtained by his company, was "minimal". What exactly was the total figure he refers to as "minimal"? Saying they were "minimal" is simply not good enough, alas.

It is unfortunate that those in charge of corporate governance and compliance at Tanink Motors, did such a great disservice to the company, by allowing the CEO, instead of their department's head, to interact with the media, on the subject of the Jeep SUVs presented to the Black Stars.

Surely, their CEO's job is not to save government appointees from embarrassment - but to protect his company's image and reputation from being damaged by association with non-transparent politicians, and cagey Ghana Football Association (GFA) officials,  in the minds of the general public?

His intervention has only ended up  raising further suspicion about the processes involved in presenting those vehicles to the Black Stars.

What they must not forget, is that in other jurisdictions, influence-peddling invariably lands corporate titans in jail. We are getting close to that stage in the age of accountability in which pressure groups like #OccupyGhana refuse to put up with high-level corruption.

A question some might ask is: how did it come about that state revenue authorities that are said to regularly reject even applications for exemptions from paying import duty, on hospital equipment and vital drugs donated to healthcare facilities from overseas, for example, speedily granted same to a company giving out  luxury vehicles as gifts to super-wealthy soccer stars - some of whom earn in excess of US$ 200,000 per week, and are definitely not short of a pesewa or two: and already own luxury SUVs, themselves, in any case?

How can that be justified morally, at a time of such great economic hardship in Ghana, one wonders? Who exactly in government did the Tanink Motors CEO approach to obtain the exemption from paying import duty on the said vehicles for his company - and did that person too recieve one of the vehicles as a gift?

Would that not be inappropriate and highly unethical - and  qualify as an egregious example of conflict of interest amongst public officials - if that indeed were the case? They would be wise to provide a full list of all the 30 recipients of those Jeep Grand Cherokee SUV's to the media. That will clear the air for them.

 And since Tanink Motors' CEO also said that the idea for presenting the vehicles to the Black Stars was originally to reward them if they qualified for the quarter finals stage, in the 2014 FIFA World Cup soccer tournament in Brazil, the question they must answer there, is:  did the Tanink Motors CEO obtain exemptions for payment of import duty at that time too - and were they ever utilised by his company subsequently? One hopes that that is not the case - as a case of fraud and tax evasion could be built against the company.

Those in charge of corporate governace and compliance at Tanink Motors, must not forget that it could also be argued that far from being a case of charitable giving, deserving of a waiver of import duty, those gifts to the players were merely a means of leveraging the value of the Black Stars brand, and enhancing Tanink Motors'  corporate brand in the eyes of his "partners" - and, crucially, a golden opportunity to sell expensive vehicles that would otherwise not have been sold: in a bulk purchase deal paid for by his "partners".

In other words, it was a purely commercial transaction benefiting Tanink Motors' bottom line, not charitable giving - and therefore not deserving of a waiver of payment of import duty.

 I believe the phrase used by Tanink Motors' CEO, Mr Klogo, was "I mobilised my partners" - if he was quoted correctly by the Ghanaian media, that is. Well, it describes what went on perfectly, in a sense, does it not? If they are transparent about the whole process, that suspicion will not arise.

Who were those  "partners" who said they would only agree to purchase those vehicles for the Black Stars, if payment of import duty was waived on them?

There are some who might say that it would be a grave error of judgement  on the part of Tanink Motors and the Hon. Mahama Ayariga to treat divulging the names of those "partners" as confidential information - and attempt to hide that from the public for that reason. That is precisely the type of mindset that leads to scandals on the scale of Watergate.

Can they tell Ghanaians what the amount actually stated as payment for the vehicles, which appears in the books of all parties involved in the deal is - and would a forensic audit confirm that purchase price  figure? One certainly hopes so - as regardless of how they proceed, a change in government in January 2017, will result in investigations to unearth what actually took place.

Above all, they must tell Ghanaians whether or not any state-owned company paid for any of those luxury vehicles given out as gifts to the Black Stars.

If the answer is yes, then although it would be regarded by some as unfair to do so, others might  conclude that it exposes what most would regard as grand deception of the public on their part - and most probably the real reason why the Hon. Mahama Ayariga was so determined not to be questioned by journalists about the budget for the preparation and  participation of the Black Stars in the 2015 African Cup of nation's football tournament staged in Equatorial Guinea.

Was there a fear that payment for some of the vehicles for the Black Stars by state-owned entities would be exposed?

State-owned enterprises run by party-placemen are fast becoming a conduit for the dissipation of taxpayers' money by public officials.

It is a dangerous practice that must not be allowed to continue - as it could eventually bankrupt those public-sector entities: and saddle Ghanaians with yet more debt. We must watch the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) like hawks, for that reason.

To protect the company from individuals from the top echelons of the create-loot-and-share brigade posted there, President Mahama must put patriotic individuals and world-class achievers like Bishop Doug Heward-Mills and Pastor Mensah Otabil, on the board of the GNPC, as soon as practicable. The President must remove two of the regime-cronies currently on the board for that purpose.

Finally, it was mentioned that Mr Klogo was one of 30 business executives flown to Holland by KLM, to watch the Black Stars play in a friendly match in that country before the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.

Somehow, one gets the distinct impression that some clever PR person, wants to make it appear that the Dutch airline KLM sponsored that particular flight.

Was it the airline that bore the cost of the tickets for those 30 business executives it flew to Holland to watch that friendly match involving the Black Stars before the commencement of the 2014 FIFA World Cup tournament in Brazil?

Or was the trip paid for by a Ghanaian state-owned company, which paid the money to KLM in Holland, to fly those 30 business executives from Ghana to watch that particular friendly match in Holland - as some claim? Is there something they have in common that links the 30 business executives with the said 30 Jeep Grand Cherokee SUVs, one wonders?

Hopefully, the Hon. Mahama Ayariga will shed some more light on the KLM flight issue too.  In any case, a few more questions for him to answer about the Black Stars team will certainly do him no harm - as it will only shed more light on the Jeep Grand Cherokee SUVs presented to the national team's players by Tanink Motors - and perhaps  remove all suspicions from the minds of the doubting-Thomases in the Ghanaian media world, about those vehicles.

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