The Chief Executive Officer of African Automobile Limited, Mr. Mohammed Hijazi, has petitioned the Judgment Debt Commission to help him recover GH¢562,445,583.45 the Ministry of Employment and Manpower Development owed his company.
According to him, African Automobile sued the government and was awarded GH¢16.5 million judgment debt in July 2010, which was not paid. The interested it has generated, plus the principal, has shot the figure to GH¢562,445,583.45 as at 31st August 2013.
Mr. Hijazi filed the petition after he appeared before the Commission in respect of various judgments debts his company took from the various government institutions for the supply of vehicles, maintenance and services. The petition indicated that all the monthly charges and interest are compounding the balance, and that if by the end of September it has not been cleared, the amount would jump to GH¢618,690, 141.
"Since the date of judgment, we made relentless efforts to secure payment of the debt, but regretfully, without success, hence this appeal to you for assistance to secure payment in the interest of all.
"In support of our appeal, we attach hereto copy of a Memorandum of the Office of the Legal Affairs of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning to the Honourable Minister of the Ministry, dated 19th October, 2011, asking him to authorise payment of the judgment amount of GH¢16,565,396.22 due for payment on 31st July, 2010.
"With the application of the statutory interest, the amount due for payment becomes GH¢511,314,166.77 at 31st July, 2013, GH¢562,445,583.45 at 31st August 2013, and GH¢618,690,141.79 at 30th Sept, 2013.
"We opted to support our appeal with this Memorandum, in addition to the statement of account, because it provides all the information required for your consideration. However, we will be pleased to provide any additional documents or information that you may require," African Automobile noted.
The Sole Commissioner, Justice Yaw Appau expressed surprise as to how post-judgment interest could be calculated with compound interest, in which they expect government to pay. He said: "I have no idea how AAL calculated the money to arrive at that outrageous figure."
When the Acting Chief Director of the Ministry of Manpower, Roland Modey, appeared before the commission in respect of over GH¢15,000 paid to one Evans Povi as compensation for damages caused to him during working at the erstwhile Royalty Company in 1986, the Sole Commissioner seized the opportunity to quiz him about the judgment and outstanding balances owed AAL.
Mr. Modey emphatically told the commission that he was not aware of the said case. According to him, he had also not sighted any Mitsubishi vehicles around since he assumed office, and prayed to the commissioner to give him some time to crosscheck.
The Director of External Resources Mobilisation at the Ministry of Finance, Mr. Kwadwo Awuah Peasah, also appeared in respect of monies paid to AAL, regarding the Mitsubishi vehicles supplied to various government institutions.
According to him, a search through their files could not locate the agreement between the Ministry and AAL, in respect of the supply of vehicles since 1995.
However, he indicated that he came across two letters from the Attorney General's Department, instructing the then Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning (MoFEP) to pay certain monies to AAL as judgment debt, in which they paid over GH¢8.3 million in the name of the Ministry of Employment for vehicle servicing and maintenance.
The second letter authorised them to pay money to AAL, but he could not tell whether the money had been paid. In a similar development, representatives of the Ministry of Science, Environment, Technology and Innovation, and the Department of Urban Roads also appeared before the commission in respect of vehicles supplied to them by AAL, in 1995.
The Chief Director of the Ministry of Environment, Technology and Innovation, Sylvester Anemanah, could not provide any documents on the vehicles supplied by AAL in 1995.
He added that when they contacted the former Chief Director, Benjamin Hagan, if he had an idea about the said vehicles, he said no. He said the Ministry was dissolved in 2005 during Kufuor's administration, and was re-established in 2009.
However, there were no records on the contract and the case being sent to court, and asked to be given some time to go through their archives.
The Deputy Director in charge of Finance and Administration at the Department of Urban Roads, Philip Lartey, pleaded for more time to search for documents on the supply of vehicles by AAL.
He said their men were seriously in search of the documents, and assured the commission that as soon as they found something, they would make it available.
Justice Yaw Appau, again, lamented on how Ministry of Finance could pay monies to AAL on the motivation of the AG's Department without proper cross-checks from the institutions at the background of the transaction.