A member of Parliament’s Public Finance Committee (PAC), Rockson Dafeamekpor, says officials of assemblies and the District Assemblies Common Fund (DACF) who defy Parliament’s directive to discontinue the fumigation contract with Zoomlion and pay the company will be punished.
“In addition to penalising the officers for non-compliance with the directives, we will also cut the funding, and then when their budget comes for approval, we will look out for the portion that goes to fund this activity and then we will cut it,” he told The Fourth Estate.
The Legislator’s warning comes on the back of Parliament’s directive on July 11, 2023, to all metropolitan, municipal, and district assemblies to cancel Zoomlion’s fumigation contract.
Parliament said this had become necessary because the assemblies could not “vouch” for the integrity and composition of chemicals used during the fumigation process.
“The Committee observed with concerned (sic) that the Fumigation contract between the Assemblies and Zoomlion Company may result in waste of Public Funds since it is difficult for the Assemblies to vouch for the chemicals being used by the Company for the fumigation exercise,” the committee said.
This verification exercise is difficult for the Assemblies and Auditors too, the committee added.
“The Committee is therefore recommending to the Assemblies to not renew the contracts when the existing Agreements expire,” it concluded.
This recommendation was contained in the committee’s report on the Auditor-General’s report on the management and utilization of the DACF and other statutory funds for the year ending 2020, which was adopted by parliament on July 11, 2023.
Zoomlion received GH₵ 469,219,550 since 2015 for the fumigation exercise
Data from the DACF show that Zooomlion Ghana Limited has been paid GH₵ 469,219,550 in the last eight year years, for the work the Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee calls “wastage of Public Funds.”
This contract has been running since 2010.
Zoomlion also receives about GH₵ 20 million every month for “managing” sweepers at the markets and public places in the assemblies. This contract is between Zoomlion and the Youth Employment Agency (YEA). The money is deducted at source and paid to the company. The assemblies do not control the payment.
Despite being paid this amount monthly, Zoomlion Ghana Limited in its budget pegs the cost of each worker at GH₵ 600 per month, but the company pays each worker GH₵ 180 and keeps the rest of the GH₵ 420 as management and logistics fees.
In February 2022, the Speaker of Parliament, Alban S.K. Bagbin directed the Employment and Labour Relations Committee, to investigate the matter.
When the sweepers of the markets put the refuse in communal containers, Zoomlion Ghana Limited has separate contracts with all the assemblies in Ghana to lift the container to the final disposal sites.
This contract is called the Sanitation Improvement Package (SIP). This contract has existed since 2007 and even though the assemblies have expressed worries about its effectiveness, payment is made at the DACF.
Zoomlion’s ongoing contract with the government
Zoomlion GH. Ltd has two major contracts with the various MMDAs across the country, currently running – Sanitation Improvement Package (SIP) and Fumigation – aside from the Youth in Sanitation contract.
The SIP/YEA contracts were first signed under John Agyekum Kufuor’s administration and have been running despite many investigative reports and adverse findings against them by the Auditor-General.
The Auditor-General (A-G), in its annual report on the management and utilization of the District Assemblies Common Fund and other Statutory Funds, has, on countless occasions, cited Zoomlion for various contract breaches.
In most cases, the A-G recommended a stoppage of payments to the company and a refund of monies it undeservedly received. In some cases, it recommended an abrogation of the contracts.
However, the DACF administrator continues to deduct from the assemblies’ share of the DACF at source and pay to Zoomlion without even ascertaining, in almost all cases, whether the company has rendered services to, or has valid contracts with the assemblies to merit the payments.
This has resulted in payments made to the company for no work done. In a number of cases, payments were made without contractual agreements.
In 2020, while Zoomlion Ghana Ltd was already being paid for its fumigation contracts in all assemblies across the country, President Akufo-Addo authorised the award of a contract to Zoomlion Ghana Ltd to fumigate schools, markets, and other public places to fight Covid-19. This was contrary to caution from the World Health Organisation that the measure was ineffective in the fight against the virus.
The so-called COVID-19 fumigation cost Ghana about GH₵ 500 million.
In addition, the District Assemblies Common Fund also paid Zoomlion Ghana Limited GH₵ 61,962,000.00 in 2020 for fumigation.
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