The Herald, has picked up details of on-going discussion between the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) and Mechanical Lloyd, ostensibly to give the Authority's transport department, to the private car dealership company to buy, insure and lease vehicles to the revenue collection institution on a contract spanning four years.
The deal has been described as another state capture. The present arrangement is that the state has put some 700 vehicles for use by officials of GRA, but the impending agreement, will have all the cars sold off and allow Mechanical Lloyd to purchase, insure, lease and service the cars to the GRA.
The company has three vehicle sales divisions, covering Ford, BMW, and Massey Ferguson, but it is unclear, if Mechanical Lloyd, an Accra-based company has the capacity to buy, insure, lease and maintain all the 700 cars.
The agreement, supported by key personalities in both GRA and the Finance Ministry headed by Ken Ofori-Atta, is curiously being rejected by stakeholder groups such as the Trades Union Congress (TUC), GRA Workers Association, Transport Workers Union and others.
While, Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, Commissioner General Rev. Amisshaddai Owusu-Amoah and a few others are in support of the agreement, Col. Kwadwo Damoah, who is the Commissioner in-charge of Customs, is against the deal.
Critics of the deal intended to be rushed ahead of the December 7, 2020 polls, say there was no wider consultation with stakeholders, meaning only few leaders at the top are spearheading it.
This paper also gathered that there was the absence of open tender to ensure value for money purposes and the issue of security concerns covering tax invasion, as well as smuggling.
But the Board of GRA, headed by Prof. Stephen Addae, appears adamant pushing the agenda to get their intention finalized for a takeoff.
At a meeting held between GRA and Mechanical Lloyd on Monday October 12, 2020 which The Herald's undercover reporters sat in, had Finance Ministry's Chief Director, Frank Gadzekpor, who incidentally happens to be the brother of Keli Gadzekpor, co-owner of DATABANK and CEO of Enterprise Insurance owned by the Finance Minister.
Frank Gadzekpo, who was brought into the Ministry by Mr Ofori-Atta, worked with his brother at Data Bank.
Also present representing the Finance Ministry, was one Paul Hammond, as well as, Joseph Hider from Mechanical Lloyd.
The meeting, chaired by Prof Addae, was attended by all board members and details of the contract are that Mechanical Lloyd, will buy and lease vehicles to the Authority at an unspecified cost.
Again, maintenance, insurance as well as fueling, will be borne by Mechanical Lloyd at a fee to the Authority.
The discussion continues that in the future, Mechanical Lloyd, will employed drivers for GRA, as part of the contract, and this will come at additional cost to the Authority.
The GRA has two weeks to respond to the proposal tabled in the Monday meeting. Discussions according to Herald's sources, started early January 2020, but events of the year delayed it continuation, leading to it being rushed at this top speed to ensure the deal goes through before the general elections.
There are suspicions that a change of government, could throw the deal off the table, hence is it being rushed through, so that the company could head to court and may win a judgment debt at the expense of the taxpayer, should a new administration terminate it.
This paper has gathered, that there are a total of 700 vehicles that are being used by the three departments of GRA namely; Customs Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS) Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Value Added Tax (VAT) Service.
The deal, which is being held at the top management and board levels, has been described as "state capture".
Some say because there is a lot of money in the transport and procurement businesses, the intention is to shift attention there so that moneys can be made by some people.
There are concerns about the potential danger in handing such a sensitive department of a security institution to a private company.
Having private drivers employed to drive Commissioner General, his deputies, Commissioner of Support Services, Commissioner in charge of Domestic Division, Deputy Commissioner, Assistant Commissioner and Chief Tax Collectors, is something many feel is risky.
It was explained that, officials of GRA handle guns and their operations are carried out in strict confidentiality, it is unwise to engage the private car dealer. It is also argued that, it is too dangerous to risk the image of the Authority.
Other concerns had been that, there had not been stakeholder consultations in the attempt to privatatise their transport wing.
In the event of nonpayment of fees, Mechanical Lloyd could ground all its fleet, leaving GRA in a state of confusion.
There are also concerns over the procurement process. Aside Mechanical Lloyd, no other company is taking part in the discussions to ensure the state gets value for money.
Insiders, have claimed that the deal will see the insurance of the cars going to Enterprise Insurance, which is owned by Finance Minister, his wife and Keli Gadzekpo.