Dr. Kwesi Botchwey, Chairman of the Board of Ghana National Gas Company, has described as regrettable and a blatant abuse of the role of civil society activism, statements made by a group calling itself the Civil Society Platform on Oil and Gas concerning the operations and very legitimacy of the Gas Company at a press conference held on Thursday 18th October 2012 and also at His Excellency the President’s IEA evening encounter.
Dr Botchwey noted that the group held the press conference to which Ghana Gas was not invited and proceeded to make allegations of impropriety in procurement practices at the company and references to “transfer pricing” by Messrs Sinopec, the EPCC contractor, all this without offering a shred of evidence or specific details. In total disregard for the facts, the group even claimed that Dr George Yankey, CEO of the Gas Company was a member of the National Gas Task Force which the late President Mills set up to review and expedite the development of the Early Phase Gas Infrastructure system. Dr Yankey was not in fact a member of the said Task Force.
Dr Botchwey stated that, every act of procurement by the Ghana Gas has been done in strict accordance with the countries procurement laws and in compliance with the company’s own internal regulations regarding the thresholds for Board approval, as pertains in all companies in both the public and private sector including the GNPC, whose virtues Mr Manteau was quick to extol.
Dr. Botchwey said that the allegations of impropriety in procurement practices, and the talk of so-called “transfer pricing” by the project contractor Sinopec, are all part of a series of whispers and claims made in an anonymous paper circulated by unknown persons and recently published in the Public Agenda.
These are allegations that the Board of Ghana Gas has thoroughly discussed and found to be without merit or substance. The Board’s deliberations and decisions on these matters are fully documented. Indeed, a few weeks ago, the Ghana Gas held a briefing session with the press with most of the company's senior staff in attendance during which many of these issues were clarified. “If the group Civil Society Platform have any evidence to support any of the allegations that they are so wantonly making we invite them to put them in the public domain”, Dr. Botchwey said.
As for the suggestion that the Ghana Gas, was somehow set up as a way of avoiding parliamentary oversight, Dr. Botchwey noted that the GNGC was incorporated by the Government of Ghana, through the Ministry of Energy, and its Board sworn in and inaugurated in public by the Minister of Energy, adding that the company is not the only public enterprise that has been set up as a limited liability company: ECG, Gridco, BOST among others are all limited liability companies.
The doors of Ghana Gas, Dr Botchwey stressed are open, as are its books, “we welcome principled debate and discussion with any group that are interested in facts and the truth, as opposed to those who are interested in irresponsible gossip at the behest of faceless vested interests with a well-known axe to grind”. “Speaking personally" Dr Botchwey added, " I am aware that there are some who would have preferred to have one company exercise dominion over the entire oil and gas industry from the upstream to the midstream and down to the downstream and preferably be responsible also for regulating the entire industry. Mr. Manteaw of the Civil Society Platform sounds very much like the hireling and advocate of these vested interests. “But if per chance I am wrong and Mr. Manteaw's group is truly interested in constructive debate Ghana Gas will be more than happy to debate them publicly".
Ghana Gas is studying the full text of the group’s statement and will issue a more detailed response if need be.