A former Deputy Minister of Finance, Cassiel Ato-Forson has rubbished claims that the current government saved the country millions of cedis in implementing the mobile money interoperability system for less than $4 million when the previous government had awarded the contract GH¢4.6 billion.
According to him, such a comparison is grossly misplaced as the system the previous government wanted to introduce was more sophisticated than what the current government has launched.
He said the Vice President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, only started a fraction of what the previous government wanted to do.
“When we are communicating, there is the need for us to be truthful to the people of this country. They are saying that the system that they have just developed is the same as what the Central Bank had engaged Sibton to do. Indeed that cannot be that case, and that is not the case. In fact, the original system that the Bank of Ghana had wanted to engage Sibton to do had to connect all payment systems and also to link the likes of GhanaLink including Mobile Money…. So you have picked mobile money as a system and tried to create interoperability and tried to make it look like it is the same,” he said.
Speaking on Eyewitness News on Monday, Mr Ato-Forson insisted that the deal was not overpriced under the Mahama administration.
In 2016, it was reported that Bank of Ghana had awarded private company Sibton Switch Ltd. a GH¢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”.
But telecom companies opposed the arrangement.
The Vice President was subsequently petitioned by Citi FM to review or revoke the deal which may have been overpriced.
Dr Bawumia finally announced in late 2017 that the contract with Sibton was cancelled and that the Ghana Interbank Payment and Settlement Systems (GhIPSS), a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Central Bank was asked to implement the system.
GhIPSS has implemented the system at a far lower cost of $4.5 million.
Following the launch of the first phase of the mobile money interoperability system last week, many have criticised the previous administration for what could have been a waste of state resources.
But Mr Ato-Forson also told the host of Eyewitness News, Umaru Sanda Amadu that the recently launched system by Dr Bawumia was not functional.
“The system that they are referring to doesn’t work. It is not working. That $4 million that they claim they have spent on that system does not work. I tried it, and it doesn’t work. We should stop this propaganda,” he said.
Meanwhile, a former Deputy Governor of the Bank of Ghana (BoG) believes the new system launched by Bawumia is different in scope from the original contract, hence the disparity in the cost.
Speaking at a news conference in Accra on Monday, the former Deputy Governor who resigned from the Bank last year said it would be erroneous to compare to the system Sibton Switch was contracted to build to what was recently launched.
“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.