The Minister for Communications and Digitalisation, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful has accused the Deputy Ranking Member on Parliament’s Select Committee for Communication, Samuel Nartey George, of lacking understanding of the AirtelTigo transaction.
According to the Minister, it is not out of the ordinary to purchase a company at just a dollar and that whoever doubts it must seek for education.
The Member of Parliament for the Ningo-Prampram Constituency, Samuel Nartey George, had questioned the purchase of the company at $1, claiming it was actually $25million.
The MP had said in a post that the Minister should prepare to appear before the Committee and give details of the transaction.
“We would not allow the already burdened taxpayers of our country to be saddled with poorly thought out decisions that impose more debt or hardship on us.Our eyes are fixed on the ball and I urge you to do same. No long talk,” he intimated.
However, Ursula, who said yesterday on Asempa FM, an Accra based radio station that, she was not afraid to appear before the Committee added that those who sold the company picked the 100% share-holder loans.
She added that another large loan they added was a $100m loan from Standard Bank. “With that, we wanted them to take all the debt, but they came back to plead that they could not take all so we agreed on 50% share. Even that, they will loan the company $25million to offset part of the loan and the company will pay them back in five years,” she explained.
“So, right now, the only thing they (AirtelTigo) are to deal with in their books is $25m to Standard Bank,” the Minister added.
Earlier yesterday, the Minister was on Peace FM in Accra where she spoke to the same issue. Giving some assurances, she cited that in 2006 the then Kufour administration bought WESTEL at $10million and sold it at $120million.
WESTEL is the same company that was changed over time to become AirtelTigo, following a merger in 2017.
“Today we have bought the whole AirtelTigo for $1; not $1 a share, the entire company was sold to the government for $1,” Ursula noted.
“The shares come with a package and if we are selling it, it’s just like selling a house, you sell the house together with everything that’s in it. Those who own these shares say they are literally giving it to us (government) for free.”
The Minister indicated that the shareholders said they wished they were not giving out the company but they had to do so under the circumstances.
According to her, the owner said they were confident that the government could revive the company, a reason they gave it out.
The Minister further said the owners cited track records starting from former President Kufour’s era, when he invested $10 million and made $120 million within 2 years.
“So literally the goodwill of this government is what made the shareholders give the company to us. So literally, they gave it to us for free, Ursula asserted.
It would be recalled that when AngloGold Ashanti shut down, the Asantehene Otumfuo Osei Tutu said the owner said they would sell it at just a dollar.
This development, the Minister referred to and made the point that it did not mean the whole company was worth $1.
“So, I am pleading with those who are saying it’s impossible to acquire AirtelTigo for $1, it’s possible, it has happened,” she added.
Touching on the fate of workers of the company, the Minister said the workers had been assuredthat their jobs were secured.
She added that, currently they are not working for Indians and South Americans, they are working for Ghana government because the company is largely being managed by Ghanaians. She hinted that, going forward, government would see to it that some few changes will be made at the top management.Read Full Story