Ghana’s big contracts & political croniesThe Africa Report #Merchant_BankAugust 9, 2019
By Billie adwoa McTernan in Accra Posted on Wednesday, 26 February 2014 15:05
A year into his first full presidential term, John Mahama is pledging to tackle a barrage of economic woes – a campaign that may define his political career.
Topping the list are the budget and trade deficits, and ballooning local and foreign debt.
Nonetheless, the most politically toxic problems are the growing accusations of grand corruption and cronyism.
Yet Mahama emphasises the need for deterrent measures against corrupt politicians and their business allies rather than strong backing for investigations of malfeasance, the conviction of malefactors and compelling them to return lost revenues to the state.
Although the leading anti-corruption agency, the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), now has the right to launch its own investigations, it remains chronically under-resourced.
The subject of government contracts has taken centre stage following the sale in December 2013 of the state-owned Merchant Bank to a local private equity firm, Fortiz.
The state-owned Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) held a majority stake in the bank and chose Fortiz over South Africa’s FirstRand bank.
The sale of Merchant Bank to a small local company rather than the much larger South African bank riled the opposition.
Talks between FirstRand and SNNIT collapsed in July 2013 after the South African lender offered $91m for a 75% stake in Merchant Bank.
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