The Judgement Debt Commission is set to end its public hearings at the end of this month.Set up by President John Dramani Mahama in 2012 to look into judgement debt payments from 1992, the commission used to hold public sittings at the Old Parliament House in Accra.
It will present its report to the President by the end of December, this year.
The Sole Commissioner, Mr Justice Yaw Apau, announced the wrapping up date of the commission’s work on Tuesday, October 8.
The commission began its public sitting on November 28, 2012 at the Old Parliament House in Accra.
After more than a year of sitting at the Old Parliament House, fire burnt the building in December, 2103.
The inferno destroyed most of the documents that the commission had accumulated during the period.
As a result of the fire, the commission had to suspend sitting for some months. It was then relocated to the building that was formerly used by the Constitutional Review Commission at Cantonment in Accra in July, 2014.
On October 7, this year,, the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) disconnected power to the building housing the commission and two other state institutions – Constitutional Review Implementation Committee and the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA) for owing GHc90,000 in electricity bills. The ECG has since reconnected power to the building.
Prominent cases before the commission
Prominent personalities, including a former first lady, Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings, a former Energy Minister under the Kufuor administration, Mr Albert Kan-Dapaah, and his deputy, Mr K.T. Hammond, appeared before the commission.
Nana Konadu was at the commission to answer questions in relation to the payment of GHc¢4.9 million compensation to Calf Cocoa International Ghana Limited.
Calf International was a joint venture between Caridem Development Ghana Limited and the Chinese International Company for Agriculture and Fisheries.
One of the cases that made waves at the commission was the sale of a drill ship belonging to the Ghana National Petroleum Company (GNPC).
Messrs Kan-Dapaah and Hammond appeared before the commission to answer questions about their involvement in the sale of the drill ship.
The GNPC drill ship, Discoverer 511, was sold to pay off a $19.5 million judgment debt owed to French multinational bank, Societe General.
Both Mr Kan-Dapaah and Mr Hammond had maintained that all the $24 million realised from the sale of the ship was used to defray judgment debt and the remaining $3.5 million returned to government chest.
Aside these personalities, representatives of the various security agencies were also at the commission to answer questions regarding pending cases in court against the various security agencies.
Again, representatives of 52 communities in the Volta and Northern regions who had benefited from a consolidated amount of compensation totalling GH¢138 million for the submerging of their lands following the construction of the Volta Dam in 1965 also appeared before the commission.
Some people still hold the view that the commission is just a waste of resources because it will not yield any dividends to the state.
In an interview with the Daily Graphic, counsel of the commission, Mr Dometi Kofi Sokpor, said the commission was purposely set up to delve into judgement debts that had arisen as a result of payment of money from the consolidated funds.
He said at the end of the commission’s work, it would make some recommendations to the President for his consideration and possible implementation.
For instance, he said, the commission would recommend measures to prevent the state from getting embroiled in judgement debt or paying judgment debts to any organisation or individual.
“The commission will come up with measures to be put in place so as to avoid the emergence of judgement debt issues,” he said.
Retrieval of money
The thorny issue is about the retrieval of money wrongly paid to groups and individuals as judgement debts.
Mr Sokpor was not clear with the information on retrieval of money but indicated that the issue of retrieval would be included in the commission’s report.
“All those issues will be included in the commission’s report. When the report finally comes out all those issues will be in. But for now I am unable to tell what the recommendations will be like,” he said.