Kofi Bentil laments ‘monumental’ PDS mess

A private legal practitioner, Kofi Bentil, has condemned the controversy surrounding power retail deal between government and Power Distribution Services (PDS) Ghana Limited as a monumental mess.

Government suspended the concession agreement last week after alleging fraud in the guarantee presented by insurance firm Al Koot to support the takeover of the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) by PDS.

Although the entity that supervised the agreement, the Millennium Development Authority (MiDA) maintains it followed due diligence throughout the process, local insurers, Donewell Insurance says Al Koot was not truthful in its communication to ECG.

Addressing the issue on Joy News’ current affairs programme, Newsfile, Kofi Bentil, who also represented workers of the ECG during the negotiation said the debacle and ensuing allegations and counter-allegations between parties involved in the power deal must be addressed immediately.

“This PDS matter is a monumental mess and it is an unnecessary thing that has happened. We have a catastrophic problem as a country with our power systems. We melted down in ‘dumsor’ – human beings died, our industries went down…somebody comes and gives us half a billion and says go and find somebody competent and help you fix the problems you are facing; we have paid $50 million in services, in advice – hiring lawyers, advisors, consultants to help us with this process and we still end up in a situation where, as we speak, is total mess,” he said, Saturday.

He said it was unfortunate that PDS has not brought technical expertise to the power distribution deal, in breach of the transaction that was supposed to improve Ghana’s power situation.

“The thing has gone terribly bad and the level of …failure of this thing makes me so sad. MiDA must position itself very, very well…As we speak, PDS is supposed to have been suspended [but they are still working]. If you read the dispute resolution process…it is has been breached,” he added.

Member of the communication team of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Edudzi Temekloe, who was also on the current affairs programme, said the suspension of the agreement amounts to perpetuating fraud.

He said comments by the Energy Minister, John Peter Amewu, that allegedly perpetrated a fraud on government in the transaction to take over management of ECG, are a ruse and misplaced.

Mr Amewu called the alleged breach by PDS a fraud. His deputy, William Owureku Aidoo, revealed that initial investigations into the botched power agreement point to a grand plan by PDS to deceive the state.

But Edudzi disagrees with the Minister and his deputy.

“Government is not a victim but it appears to be an accomplice because the original agreement stipulated about 45 conditions precedent. These conditions precedent, PDS only fulfilled about 19.

“Government or state actors in their own accord waived those condition precedents and made them conditions subsequent and that included the bank guarantee,” he said.

Government must be applauded

However, Member of Parliament for Efutu, Alexander Afenyo-Markin, wants government applauded for taking steps to correct the alleged wrongs committed by the insurers, Al Koot.

“This thing was not uncovered by media personnel. This thing was not uncovered by a vigilant citizen…it is the parties to the transaction. ECG did further due diligence, asking questions and they had this response,” he said.

He said it was important to acknowledge that government put the deal on ice immediately it was alerted about the problems – a step in the right direction, according to the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) MP.

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