Prime News Ghana

Financial economist outlines corporate governance lapses in SSNIT hotels asset sale

By Primenewsghana
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Dr. Bernard Tetteh-Dumanya, a financial economist and consultant, has flagged serious corporate governance deficiencies in the sale of SSNIT’s shares in six hotels to Rock City Hotel, a company owned by Bryan Acheampong, Ghana’s Minister for Agriculture.

These lapses, he argues, include a lack of transparency, insufficient due diligence, poor stakeholder engagement, and inadequate documentation, all of which have raised concerns about potential conflicts of interest.

The debate over SSNIT’s decision to sell its shares to Rock City owned by the Agric Minister started when the North Tongu MP, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa lodged a formal petition with the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) to investigate allegations surrounding the sale of six hotels to Rock City Hotel owned by Bryan Acheampong.

The hotels under scrutiny in the petition include Labadi Beach Hotel, La Palm Royal Beach Resort, Elmina Beach Resort, Ridge Royal Hotel, Busua Beach Resort, and the Trust Lodge Hotel.

Mr Ablakwa’s petition to CHRAJ seeks an investigation into various allegations, including conflict of interest, abuse of power, lack of due process, procurement breaches, cronyism, and graft.

Speaking on the NorvanReports and Economic Governance Platform (EGP) X Space on Sunday on the topic, “Corporate Governance and Conflict of Interest: The Case of SSNIT’s Sale of Assets”, Dr. Tetteh-Dumanya criticized the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) for failing to adhere to essential corporate governance standards.

He questioned the valuation process of the assets, suggesting they may not have been sold at market price, thus highlighting the opaque nature of the transaction and emphasizing that SSNIT did not follow requisite corporate governance guidelines. This, he asserted, amounts to a betrayal of public trust.

“What was the pricing of the assets in the sale and was it sold at the market price or below the market price. There wasn’t a lot of transparency in the entire process, in my view SSNIT didn’t go through most of the required corporate governance structures or guidelines in the sale of the asset, and so when we look at all these, we are then right to say that SSNIT has betrayed the public in the sale of the assets to the Agric Minister,” he noted.

To rectify these issues and bolster corporate governance in public institutions, Dr. Tetteh-Dumanya proposed several key measures. First, he called for strengthening whistleblower protection laws to encourage the reporting of governance lapses without fear of retaliation. This, he believes, would ensure that internal malpractices are brought to light and addressed promptly.

Second, he advocated for comprehensive ethics training for public officials, particularly those involved in decision-making processes. Such training would instill a strong sense of ethical responsibility and adherence to governance standards.

Third, he emphasized the need for robust internal controls to enhance transparency and accountability within public institutions. Strengthening these controls would ensure that all transactions and decisions are subject to thorough scrutiny.

Additionally, Dr. Tetteh-Dumanya recommended developing a clear conflict of interest policy. This policy would help manage and mitigate conflicts of interest in public sector transactions, ensuring decisions are made in the public interest.

Lastly, he suggested implementing an open bidding process for the sale of public assets. An open and competitive bidding process would help maximize returns for government institutions and ensure that assets are sold at fair market value.

Dr. Tetteh-Dumanya’s proposals aim to restore public confidence and ensure that the disposal of public assets is conducted in a fair, transparent, and accountable manner, safeguarding the interests of all stakeholders involved.