Deputy Auditor and Justice Minister Diana Asonaba Dapaah has put the cause of the judgment debt in the country down to poor enforcement procedures and failure to follow AG’s advice.
In their view, the opinion of the state’s principal legal advisor is either ignored or circumvented by government agencies prior to the signing of the contract.
“The WG office is sometimes not involved in the negotiations and discussions that lead to the execution of some agreements. In some cases, I regret to say, the Office’s opinion is not sought prior to the execution of agreements, regardless of the Office’s reservations, ”added Ms. Dapaah.
Speaking at a round table on Friday, Ms. Dapaah noted that problems that brought the state to court or arbitration are the waiver of contractual agreements or violations.
This, she stressed, is because some government agencies and ministries include their outfit in contractual arrangements, making it difficult to defend the state.
“The defense of the public sector in a situation in which there is little or no information or support from the institution or ministry involved is a major challenge, and we in the AG office do not exist as a state machine with a magic wand, to wipe off breaches of contract or foreclosure debts after they occur.
“We may have our very rare shortcomings in the performance of some procedural obligations in international arbitration, most of which are due to our being disabled,” said Ms. Dapaah.
The deputy AG therefore said it was necessary to deal with judgment debt without politics in order to protect public money for accelerated development.
The coordinator of the Third World Network-Africa, Dr. Yao Graham, and a senior partner at AB and David’s law firm, David Ofosu-Dorte, said there was a need to build government officials’ expertise throughout the process of preparing the agreement.
Dr. Graham said government contracts should contain clauses that limit damage in cases of negligence or breach of contract or litigation.
On the other hand, Mr Ofosu-Dorte was in favor of involving private sector advisors in the preparation of agreements.
For his part, the Executive Director of CDD-Ghana, Professor Henry Kwasi Prempeh, urged the government not to sign any agreements in times of crisis, as this could bring only minimal benefits.
He also advised Parliament to take an active part in processes leading to the signing of treaties and international agreements, adding: “Parliament is a little late.”
Prof. Prempeh also suggested that Ghana’s own contract model be drawn up to help officials sign contracts.