Sulemana Braimah, is Executive Director of MFWA, an influential media advocacy organisation
Sulemana Braimah, is Executive Director of MFWA, an influential media advocacy organisation

The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) is set to challenge the Presidency’s refusal to release the complete KPMG audit report on the controversial Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) and Strategic Mobilisation Limited (SML) contract.

Executive Director of the Foundation, Sulemana Braimah dissented with the presidency’s stance and the rationale cited for denying the RTI request for the report.

Speaking on PM Express on JoyNews, he argued that since the report has been deliberated upon and the President has already issued opinions and directives, its release would not affect his position as claimed.

“So what is it that the president would say, ‘well if I issue it out there, it will affect my deliberative processes or review an opinion?’ Those opinions have been communicated, unless the president has, or the report contains something that the president would want to hide from the public,” Mr Braimah said.

“That is why tomorrow (Tuesday) we’re actually submitting a petition to the RTI Commission, challenging the decision of the presidency on our request,” he added.

This comes after the Presidency declined a Right to Information (RTI) application submitted by the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) seeking the full KPMG audit report on the revenue mobilisation agreement between the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) and Strategic Mobilisation Ghana Ltd (SML).

Citing section 5 (1) (a) and (b) (i) of the RTI Act, the Presidency stated that it has the right to reject requests for information deemed crucial. According to the Presidency, the KPMG report contains sensitive information falling under these provisions.

However, Mr Briamah believes the President misinterpreted section five of the RTI Act, where it has the right to reject requests for information deemed crucial like the KPMG report.

“If you read the section five that they referenced, it’s quite clear that we are talking about a report that has been submitted to the President, and he is yet to communicate about it or yet to make known whatever it is, then, of course, you would say, well, it’s still under consideration, the president is still deliberating on the matter,” he explained.

“But we are talking about a report that has been submitted. The President has come out clearly to tell us what was contained in the report and his position on the report. And so, if you read section five, quite clearly, I think it’s a misinterpretation of the provisions of section five, basically, to, you know, do a denial,” Mr Braimah added.

He stated that MFWA through this petition hopes the RTI Commission take steps to ensure that the presidency grants their request and releases the full audit report.

Background

The SML contract, awarded by the Ministry of Finance and GRA, triggered scrutiny after an investigative report found irregularities in its procurement and performance. SML, an offshoot of a timber company, was tasked with undertaking revenue assurance services in the downstream petroleum sector.

An investigative report in December of 2023 by The Fourth Estate indicated that SML Ghana won the sole-sourced contract though it had no prior experience in revenue assurance. It also found that the company had no evidence to back its claim that it had saved the nation from potential revenue losses amounting to GH₵3 billion.

President Akufo-Addo, following the investigative report, suspended the contract and appointed an international audit and accounting firm, KPMG, to audit the contract.

After an extensive audit conducted by KPMG, it has been revealed that Strategic Mobilisation Ghana Limited (SML) received a total of GH¢1,061,054,778 from 2018 to the present, for its services in revenue mobilisation.

The findings were disclosed in a press statement issued by the Communications Director of the Presidency, Eugene Arhin, on Wednesday, April 24.

Additionally, it mentioned that “the total fees estimated to be paid to SML under the 2023 Contract for five years is GH¢5,173,091,857, which averages to about GH¢1 billion per year.”

Subsequently, President Akufo-Addo endorsed the recommendation to terminate the upstream petroleum and minerals audit services previously provided to the GRA by Strategic Management Limited (SML).

He directed the GRA and the Ministry of Finance to enter renegotiations concerning the contract.

The President emphasized that the renegotiation should be closely monitored and evaluated periodically to ensure it meets expectations.

However, Strategic Mobilisation Ghana Limited (SML) later stated that the audit report by KPMG absolved them of the allegations made against them by The Fourth Estate in its documentary.

Serwaa Sarpong, who heads Support Management at SML, insisted that SML’s efforts have led to increased monitoring and detection of under-declaration by some individuals within the sector.

She emphasised that there was nothing irregular in the awarding of the contract and urged Ghanaians to disregard any contrary reports.

Contrary to the audit report’s claims, SML also disputed receiving GH¢1,061,054,778.00 for its contract with the GRA, arguing that KPMG cited the figure “without reference to the investments made and the taxes paid” during the review period.

However, MFWA who had concerns about the President’s decision to not release the full report had their RTI request denied.

But, a week ago, Asaase Radio reported that President Akufo-Addo will release the full report quoting sources at the Jubilee House.