I think I deserve to be awarded and not to be chastised – K.T Hammond

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The Minister designate for Trade and Industry and Member of Parliament for Adansi-Asokwa, Mr Kobbina Tahir Hammond says he deserves an award and not chastisement for the interventions he made in the Drill Ship saga.

According to the nominee, he succeeded in getting the debt that the government of Ghana owed in the project reduced from $47m to $19.5m.

This, he believed, should be an achievement that should be celebrated and not the constant backlash he receives from those in the political sphere.

“…Of the $47m, following my arrangement and going around, they decided, instead of $47m that we have accumulated, to charge us $19.7m in place of the $47m.

“I think I deserve a national award for that…$47m and we managed to get it to $19.7m,” Mr K.T. Hammond said. He made this known when he appeared before the Appointments Committee of Parliament yesterday.

He was setting the record straight on the Drill Ship saga after some minority members on the committee quizzed him severally on the botched project.

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The sale of the Oil Drill Ship, belonging to the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) had been a subject of controversy and inquiry by the Sole Commissioner, Justice Yaw Apau, appointed by President John Mahama to investigate all judgement debt cases in the country.

The John Agyekum Kufuor government, which superintended over the sale, had been accused of legal and procedural breaches by not consulting the Board of the GNPC, which had the legal mandate to sell.

Some also accused K.T. Hammond and his then boss, Albert Kan Dapaah of misappropriating an amount of $3.5 m, which was left from the $24 m realised from the sale of the ship. An amount of $19.5 m had been used to pay settlement agreement with Societe General.

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But speaking about how he got implicated in the deal, Mr Hammond said that the GNPC had been run aground as a result of their engagement in hedging, which is a type of gambling that involves either losing or gaining money on investment.

He said this saddled the GNPC with an amount of $47m as a result of the hedging transaction they entered into with the France based company – Societe General – and had collateralised the ship in the process.

He said when the Kufuor administration took over, the ship had been impounded somewhere in India and the issue was pending at a court in England. He said that was how he came in to help resolve the issue, based on his background as a lawyer.

“The Attorney General at the time had considered the issue and was clear in their minds that the position of Ghana was hopeless… there was no way of pleading the case than to settle.

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Mr Chairman, this is where I entered the frame,” Mr Hammond said.

He said what he did was to find out how much the state can pay and he did that in consultation with the government and was able to get the amount reduced to $19.7m.

The Adansi-Asokwa legislator also pointed out to the committee that he was not accused of anything by the Justice Apau Commission, but was only invited to the committee because he was the deputy Minister who brought a finality to the issue.

Another argument put forward by Mr K.T. Hammond as to why he couldn’t have been implicated in the report was the fact he had resumed post for only three months when the issue broke.

“How can a deputy Minister of three months sell a state asset as critical as a ship?” he asked rhetorically.