More Questions Over BOST’s GH₵234, 000 iPhones
More questions have popped up, following the shocking confirmation that management of the state-owned Bulk Oil Storage and Transportation Company Limited (BOST) has spent an eye-popping GH₵234, 000 to purchase advanced phones for its corporate executives.
Despite the justification given by the company, Dr. Eric Oduro Osae ,the Director-General (D-G) of the Internal Audit Agency, is asking why a “value for money audit” was not done before the purchasing of the 18 iPhone 13 Pro Max devices.
The phones, according to BOST, were bought for its board members and corporate executives “to equip the team to stay in touch with the management information and business intelligence systems of the company for efficient decision making.”
The company, in its defense, described those who benefitted from the gesture as “critical officers of the company.”
But Dr. Oduro Osae appears unconvinced, as he questions why the office of the Auditor-General (A-G), Johnson Akuamoah Asiedu, which the company said audited and found no adverse findings, did not raise value for money issues.
“The next question I want to ask is that, why is that the A-G has audited the institution but never raised a value for money issues for that particular contract? These are lingering questions that require answers,” he said.
Speaking in an interview with TV3, the local governance expert, said “In all of this, the question I was asking myself is, what is the value for money in this? If the information they stand to gain to use for the benefit of the organization and by implication for the Republic of Ghana, outweigh the cost incurred, then it is a genuine expenditure?”
He also raised concerns about the contract sum, which was initially pegged atGH₵285, 41261.00, but has since been described by BOST as erroneous.
According to BOST, the amount involved was rather GH₵234, 000 and blamed the confusion on a typographical error.
Dr. Oduro Osae said there should be clarity on that aspect of the contract awarded to Eskew Ventures.
He said if the Auditor General document says the amount is in excess of GHc2 million and the company is also contesting it, then there should be a clarification to erase every doubt in the minds of people.
“But you see, the amount is GH₵234,000. That is the area we need to clarify,” he said.
He maintained, “If in the Auditor General report, it has been indicated at GH₵2.8 million and the company or organization has come out to say it is less than that, we need the Auditor-General to come out and clarify, so we know the exact amount or value involved.”
Over the weekend, BOST had cause to rebut reports that it spent an eye-popping GH₵28, 541,261.00 to purchase phones for its board members and general managers.
BOST said the iPhones 13 Pro Max phones, numbering 18, were rather bought at GH₵234, 000 in May 2022.
The information, which was contained in a procurement contract agreement that got leaked on social media, was described by some as yet another wasteful expenditure by a public institution.
But in a swift rebuttal on Saturday, the company, headed by Edwin Provencal, said there is no truth in the report.
A statement issued by the company on Saturday, September 30, 2023, denied any wrongdoing, saying that what was stated in the document are nothing but “erroneous and mischievous.”
“The Bulk Energy Storage and Transportation Limited Company has noted with dismay a section of a procurement report making rounds in the traditional and social media space claiming the company bought 18 iPhones at a cost of Twenty-Eight Million, Five Hundred and Forty-One Thousand, Two Hundred and Sixty-One Ghana Cedis (GHS28,541,261.00) for some critical officers of the company.
“The company bought eighteen (18) pieces of iPhone 13 Pro Max phones for our corporate executives in May 2022. The total cost of the phones stood at Two Hundred and Thirty-Four Thousand Ghana Cedis (234,000.00) grossed up for taxes at Two Hundred and Eighty-Five Thousand, Four Hundred and Twelve Ghana Cedis, Sixteen Pesewas (GHS285,412.16),” the company stated.
“The Twenty-Eight Million, Five Hundred and Forty-One Thousand, Two Hundred and Sixty-One Ghana Cedis (GHS28, 541,261.00) in the report may be due to a typographical error of placing the dot (.) two steps to the right which on the face of the document converted the GHS285, 412.61 to GHS28, 541,261.00),” it added.
The BOST gave reason why the phones were purchased for its corporate executives
“The reason for the purchase of the devices was to equip the team to stay in touch with the management information and business intelligence systems of the company for efficient decision making. In the petroleum storage and transportations space, a split second can make the difference between success and failure.
“The results so far attest to the efficiency of the systems put in place which includes the access points for key members of the team to access processed information for efficient decision making,” it stated.
BOST said the amount was captured in the financial reports of the company and the Auditor General, who audited the company, at least over the past three years, vetted the decision and the value and made no adverse findings about same.
The last time allegation of this nature was made against a public institution was few months ago, when the Minority in Parliament accused the Bank of Ghana (BoG) of using GHc2million on gold watches for its retiring staff.
The watches were purchased for 72 staff members who had served 30 years and above and were due for retirement this year and next year, as part of their retirement package.
The gift items, which were being bought from a Swiss watch company, comprised 23.18 karat ladies gold watches and 48 karat gents ones.