A former Deputy Governor of the Bank of Ghana (BoG) has rejected suggestions that the contract awarded for the building of an interoperability system under the Mahama administration was overpriced.
Dr Johnson Asiama said the new system launched by Vice-President is different in scope from the original contract, hence the disparity in the cost. The Central Bank had awarded the contract at a value of ¢4.6 billion but government says the project has been built at far less - $4.5 million.
Addressing a news conference in Accra Monday, the former Deputy Governor who left the Bank after some disagreement with government said the system launched by Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia cannot be compared to the one Sibton Switch was contracted to build.
Although Dr Asiama disclosed that he hasn't seen the scope of the current system launched by the Veep, he said he does not think it is as comprehensive as was envisaged under the original contract.
“I am out of office and I cannot say what is being done now but if I look at the details and scope of work in the original contract as stated here, it goes far beyond what was launched last week.
“It is like comparing antelope and an elephant…I am not sure the price will be same…” he said.
Even if it was the same scope, the IT sector has different prices for the same products depending on the country of origin and production.
His comments follow allegations that the Central Bank under the previous NDC regime was to commit an amount of ¢4.6 billion of public funds into the proposed switch to interconnect mobile money transactions.
In 2016, it was reported that Bank of Ghana had awarded private company Sibton Switch Ltd., a ¢4.6 billion contract to build a system which would "among other things serve as a single window for all e-payment transactions....to increase penetration and enhancing payment delivery channels".
The telecom companies opposed the arrangement, with many arguing the contract sum was outrageously high.
With the change in government, Dr Bawumia, who is a former Deputy Governor of the Bank of Ghana was petitioned over the contract.
He announced last year the Ghana Interbank Payment and Settlement Systems (GhIPSS), a wholly owned subsidiary of the Central Bank had been tasked to build the system at a much lower cost of $4.5 million.
But Dr Asiama said “the so-called ¢4.6 billion for which a selective tendering was done did not have anything to show that we were going to spend that money.
“The investor had projected that [amount] over a period of 15 years and not to spend ¢1 billion from day one by which time we would have delivered the entire scope”.
According to him, they followed due process in handling the contract and budgeted only ¢300,000 for administrative expenses with Sibton catering for the remaining cost.