The Tema West Constituency Chairman of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP), Dennis Amfo-Sefah, has alleged that the on-going Tema Port Expansion project, short-changes the Ghanaian tax payer.
He said the negotiations on the contract were not properly carried out thereby raising a lot of eyebrows.
In an interview with journalists in Accra, Mr Amfo-Sefah, popularly called ‘Nana Boakye,’ observed that an $800 million tax exemption granted to contractors, Meridian Port Services (MPS) raised questions about the motives of the government which gave the contract out.
“The whole project has been quoted to cost $1.5billion and out of this, $800 million is in tax exemption. What kind of arrangement is that?” Nana Boakye asked rhetorically.
According to him, the contract smacked of shadiness, and ought to attract probe from Parliament. “Yes, it was Parliament that approved this contract, but Parliament approved it when John Mahama was President and the NDC had the majority in Parliament. Now that a different party has the majority in Parliament, I think it will be proper to look into this strange arrangement.”
The Tema Port expansion project began in October 2016 and is expected to have its first container berth completed and opened up for operations by the beginning of the second Quarter of 2019.
A planned reclamation of 168 acres from the sea, 70 acres of which have already been reclaimed, is displacing locals of Tema New Town, who for years had lived by the beach although ggovernment is compensating them.
According to Nana Boakye, the fact that the port expansion would establish one big container terminal means many Ghanaians who were operating small containers may have to be pushed out and this would lead to job losses.
“But for me, the main issue that should bother all of us is the huge tax exemption. I, like every other level-headed Ghanaian, smell corruption in that $800million tax exemption. We need to probe this,” Nana Boakye said.
Terminal companies such as TCT, Atlas, Amari’s, TBT and overseas commerce are likely to close down with about 4,000 people losing their jobs on account of the current trend.
Meanwhile, the $1.5billion Tema Port expansion project is progressing steadily with the container terminal facility which is part of the first phase of the project expected to be opened in June 2019.