The contradictions in Paul Adom-Otchere and Transport Ministry’s response on airport X’mas trees saga

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The Ministry of Transport has said in a recent communication that there was no procurement nor bidding process in the controversial airport Christmas tree saga.

The ministry made the claim in response to a right to information request filed by Redeemer Buatsi, a fellow of the New Generation Investigative Journalism Fellowship of the Media Foundation for West Africa.

In January this year, news circulated on social media alleging that the Ghana Airports Company Limited (GACL) had misused public funds in the purchase of Christmas decorations and trees that were mounted at Kotoka International Airport in 2021.

Redeemer Buatsi, in an RTI request to the company, sought to ascertain the facts about the viral allegations. The GACL referred the journalist to the Ministry of Transport for the information.

“Please be informed that the Christmas decorations for 2021 was rented and not procured for by the GACL. Hence there was no procurement nor bidding process for the award of contract,” the Ministry of Transport in a letter dated June 10, 2022, responded to Redeemer’s request.

The Ministry added that the “Christmas decorations in question were rented and paid for by a sponsor. Therefore, no contract was awarded by GACL for the purpose.”

Months before the Transport Ministry’s response, the Board Chairman of GACL, Paul Adom-Otchere had responded to the allegations of imprudent use of public funds in the procurement of the Christmas trees.

In a statement on his Facebook page on January 7, Mr. Paul Adom-Otchere said the viral claims were “grossly misrepresenting facts about Christmas inspirations that were mounted at the Kotoka International Airport”.

His statement explained further:

“FACT: Two separate suppliers were invited to submit bids. The bids were discussed and discounts obtained. (We are grateful to Jandel Limited and Favors and Arts)

FACT: The beautiful Christmas tree standing at Terminal 3 and 3 others altogether cost GHC 34,000, which was graciously provided by Jandel Limited at a heavy discount. (We thank Jandel Limited)

“FACT: The other inspirations were provided by Favors and Arts for a total cost of GHC 84,000 out of which GHC 50,000 was obtained via sponsorship.”

Mr Adom-Otchere, who’s also the host of the Good Evening Ghana programme on Metro TV, followed his Facebook statement up with an explanation on his TV show on January 11.

“We put out a statement that the Christmas tree was bought for 34,000 cedis,” he emphasised how much the GACL paid for the tree while referring to an invoice on a touch screen monitor in the studio.

Mr Adom-Otchere further explained in his TV presentation that the GACL secured sponsorship support from DDP, an advertising company, who paid GHS 50,000 out of the GHS 128,366 that the GACL should have borne for the decorations.

Paul Adom-Otchere explained on TV that a sponsor paid GHS 50,000 out of the GHS 128,366 that the GACL should have borne for the decorations

Comparing the response from Transport Ministry with the explanation Mr Paul Adom-Otchere, provided on the Christmas decoration at the airport, Fact-Check Ghana finds inconsistencies in the claims. Below we present three contradictions from the responses.

  1. Whether there was a procurement process or not

Paul Adom-Otchere: Two separate suppliers were invited to submit bids. The bids were discussed and discounts obtained (We are grateful to Jandel Limited and Favors and Arts)

Ministry of Transport: “There was no procurement nor bidding process for the award of contract

Thus, while the Board chairman of the GACL, Paul Adom-Otchere, said that they invited bids and selected Janel limited and Favours and Arts for the provision of the Christmas decorations, the Ministry stated that nothing of the sort happened.

  1. Whether the decorations were bought or rented

Paul Adom-Otchere: The GACL bought the Christmas trees for GHS 34,000.

Ministry of Transport: The GACL rented the decorations. “The rented decorations will have to be returned to the owners.”

Whereas Paul Adom-Otchere intimated that the Christmas trees were bought at a discounted price of GHS 34,000, the ministry said the GACL did not buy any of the decorations. The ministry maintained that they rented them and hence will have to return them to the owners.

  1. The cost GACL eventually incurred on decorations

Paul Adom-Otchere: A sponsor paid GHS 50,000 out of GHS 128,366 cost for the decorations. GACL, therefore, spent GHS 78,366 on the decorations.

Ministry of Transport: Christmas decorations in question were rented and paid for by a sponsor.”

While Paul Adom-Otchere explained that a sponsor paid GHS 50,000 out of GHS 128,366 (39%) of the cost spent on the decorations, the ministry suggested the sponsor covered the entire cost of the decorations.

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