The Chairman of Parliament’s Finance Committee, Mark Assibey-Yeboah, says government’s decision to suspend the launching of the Initial Public Offering for the Agyapa Royalties deal will boost investor confidence.
The decision was taken to allow the Office of the Special Prosecutor to conclude a corruption risk assessment on the deal.
Speaking to Citi Business News, Parliament’s Finance Committee Chair who’s confident the Special Prosecutor will find no infractions with the deal, says it will at the end boost investor confidence.
“I have worked on this one; I have followed it religiously, and at no step has there been anything untoward. So, that’s why the Ministry is even saying that, yes, we are submitting ourselves to your corruption risk assessment, we are not going ahead. If anybody was worried, then they should be trying to push this one through in the face of the corruption risk assessment. But government is saying, yes, go ahead do whatever you want to do and when you are done and satisfied yourself, it will even give more confidence to investors. I am happy that he (the Special Prosecutor) has stepped in at this stage to do what he is doing.”
Parliament in August approved five agreements to allow the country to derive maximum value from its mineral resources and monetize its mineral income accruing to the country in a sustainable and responsible manner, in line with the Minerals Income Investment Fund (MIIF) Act, 2018 (Act 978).
The approval gave Agyapa Royalties Limited, the legal backing to secure about $1 billion to enable government finance large infrastructural projects.
But the move was met with a lot of resistance by a number of organizations including opposition political parties and Civil Society Organizations.
Notable amongst them were the 15 Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) under the umbrella name Alliance of CSOs working on Extractive, Anti-Corruption and Good Governance who demanded the immediate suspension of the implementation of the controversial Special Purpose Vehicle.
The CSOs argued that until there is full disclosure on the beneficial ownership of the Special Purpose Vehicle, Agyapa Minerals Royalties, the implementation of the deal should be deferred.
Subsequently, the Special Prosecutor, Martin Amidu, wrote to the Finance Ministry urging it to suspend the issuance of IPO pending the receipt of crucial documents to assist with the corruption risk assessment.
The Ministry of Finance, in agreement that more transparency is necessary to bolster the integrity of the already controversial deal, served notice that government will not proceed with the Initial Public Offering (IPO) of the Agyapa Royalties deal until the Special Prosecutor concludes the assessment on it.
In a letter signed by a Deputy Finance Minister, Charles Adu Boahene, and sighted by Citi Business News, the Ministry said the initial plan to launch the IPO in September is currently on hold.
Suspension of Agyapa IPO launch a step in the right direction – CSOs
The Civil Society Organizations opposed to the deal have welcomed government’s latest decision. Commenting on the latest development, leader of the Alliance of Civil Society Organizations working in Extractive, Anti-Corruption and Good Governance, Dr. Steve Manteaw, told Citi Business News the decision is a step in the right direction.
“The announcement of the suspension of the attempt to list Agyapa on the London Stock Exchange through an IPO is welcoming. It’s a step in the right direction. It’s victory for Ghana in the sense that a lot of the times when we set up institutions of state, particularly the accountability institutions and expect them to fulfill their mandate, they often will sit aloof and not act when they need to act unless they’ve been ordered to do so by a higher authority. But in this particular case, we find that the Special Prosecutor out of his own initiative has intervened to investigate the numerous corruption risk allegations being raised by citizens. That is quite proactive on his part and is commendable,” he said.
Despite the turn of events, the CSOs insist government must engage a lot more on the deal.
“But going forward, the issues to be investigated by the Special Prosecutor are not all the concerns that we have as citizens. Our concern was on some of the corruption risks; but also, on the basis of the valuation of the mineral royalty that lies at the heart of this transaction. And we think that the royalty has been undervalued so this requires some engagement to come to what will represent a fair value of our mineral royalties. There’s also the issue about the choice to this model to optimize our value from our mineral royalties. We don’t think this is the most prudent model to go for.”