The Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) has stated that the Ghana Airports Company Limited flouted Ghana’s procurement laws when it rented Christmas inspirations for the Kotoka International Airport in 2021.
The Commission said the company should have followed Ghana’s Procurement Act, 2003 (Act 663), when it rented and bought Christmas trees and chandeliers worth GH₵ 128,000 in December 2021.
“It is, therefore, the Commission’s considered view that the provisions of Act 663 as amended ought to have been followed in the rental of the Christmas inspirations,” CHRAJ said in a decision dated October 30, 2023, following a petition from a private Ghanaian citizen.
The Commission said since the value of the items was more than GH₵ 100,000, the only agency with the power to give approval was the Entity Tender Committee.
“The total value of Christmas decorations for 2021 was GH₵128,366.00. Out of this, DPP paid an amount of GH₵50,000.00 directly to Favours and Arts under inexplicable circumstances without passing through the GACL which had requested for the sponsorship. Since the amount of GH₵50,000.00 was paid by DPP on behalf of GACL, the Commission considers that money belonged to GACL as the beneficiary. That being the case, the amount of GH₵50,000.00 was public money within the ambit of the Public Financial Management Act, 2016 (Act 921) which under section 102 defines public money to include tax revenue, non-tax revenue, grants, and other receipts,” CHRAJ declared.
“Indeed, before the receipt of the GH₵50,000.00 the GACL knew or ought to have known that the decorations were within the approval limits of only the Entity Tender Committee ie above the GH₵100,000.00 threshold.”
CHRAJ said 2021 was not the first time the GACL had flouted the procurement rules.
It said this had been happening since 2018. The Commission, has, therefore, directed the GACL to desist from the practice going forward.
“In addition to this, the GACL has over the years considered the rental of Christmas trees as being outside procurement flowing from the evidence of officials of the Company that appeared before the Commission. For that reason, management has not been applying the provisions of Act 663 as amended. We think that this is an anomaly and ought to cease forthwith.”
The news of the procurement emerged with leaked proforma invoices from two companies from which the services were procured. The two invoices were addressed to the GACL, with one of them naming the board chairman, Paul Adom-Otchere.
A proforma invoice from Jandel Limited for “Terminal 3 Arrival Hall (a decorated Christmas tree with lights), lighting décor on the trees around the lawn, and decoration of existing trees amounted to a total of GH₵ 38,775.”
Another proforma invoice from Favors and Arts for the rental of a Christmas chandelier with lights amounted to GH₵ 90,500.
Social media commentators questioned the corporate governance structures at the GACL that allowed the board chairman of the state-owned company to be directly involved in the procurement of Christmas decorations.
On January 7, 2022, Mr Adom-Otchere sidestepped the corporate affairs department of the company and issued a statement to clarify the widely circulating information that suggested imprudent use of public funds by the company.
According to Mr Adom-Otchere, the GACL requested quotations from two companies to provide different services for the Christmas decorations at the airport.
Article 42 of the Public Procurement Act states that a “procurement entity may engage in procurement by requesting quotations in accordance with section 43.”
Section 43 of the Act says: “The procurement entity shall request for quotations from as many suppliers or contractors as practicable but shall compare quotations from at least three different sources that should not be related in terms of ownership, shareholding or directorship and the principles of conflict of interest shall apply between the procurement entities and their members and different price quotation sources.”
What this means is that the GACL should have requested quotations from at least three service providers for the Christmas tree and another three quotations for the rental of the chandelier.
CHRAJ warns GACL Board Chair
CHRAJ says the GACL Board Chair, Mr Adom-Otchere’s decision to procure Christmas inspirations for the company is an interference in the company’s day-to-day activities which does not bode well for corporate governance.
“We are constrained to observe that the conduct of the Respondent [Paul Adom-Otchere] in requesting invoices and his appearances in the media in respect of matters involving the GACL of which he is the Board Chairman does not augur well for good corporate governance. We recommend that the Respondent should restrain himself from interfering in the work of management and restrict himself purely to his prescribed functions as Board Chairman.”
CHRAJ’s decision confirms the Transport Ministry’s view that there was no procurement process
In June 2022, the Ministry of Transport told The Fourth Estate through an RTI request that “there was no procurement nor bidding process for the award of contract” in the controversial Christmas tree and decorations by the GACL.
This revelation by the ministry contradicted the claim by the board chairman of the GACL, Mr Adom-Otchere, that “two separate suppliers were invited to submit bids. The bids were discussed and discounts obtained.”
The Ministry also said the 2021 “Christmas decorations in question were rented” and not bought as was previously claimed by the GACL board chairman.