‘NAWEC had serious governance problem’

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Commissioner Bai Saine of the Janneh Commission yesterday told NAWEC finance director, Amat S. Cham, that NAWEC had serious governance problem.

Mr. Cham was continuing his evidence on matters relating to the national energy company, NAWEC, among other issues.

In his testimony, he dwelled on the composition of the liabilities of NAWEC, further stating that there was a capacity charge which was supposed to cover the cost of investment.

According to him, they had been receiving invoices from Global Trading Group until when they were asked by the office of the former president to stop paying for the capacity charge.

However, he said he did not know the reason for stopping them from paying the capacity charge, which he said, was dated 21st of May, 2010, noting that the managing director of NAWEC also wrote to the office of the former president for confirmation.

Mr. Cham told the commission that they did not receive a letter from the Ministry of Finance dated 18th of November, 2014, to Global Trading Group, adding that the letter indicated that the sum of $10.8 million capacity charge should not be paid.

He further told the commission that there was a letter dated 18th of December, 2014, written by the Ministry of Energy to the secretary general, who did not respond.

At this juncture, a letter dated 15th of September, 2015, was shown to him, in which the ministries of Energy and Finance were asking for a capacity charge. In response, he said he was not aware of the said letter, noting that it was signed by the ministers of Energy and Finance.

Commissioner George put it to him that they did reconciliation with Euro Africa Group before the bond was signed, and he answered that there was a directive that they should not pay for the capacity charge, and that they also got a letter from the office of the former president indicating that they should pay liabilities.

At this juncture, Commissioner Saine asked him what the basis was for NAWEC being asked not to pay the capacity charge. He responded that he did not know, and that there was no correspondence why the capacity charge was stopped but invoices kept coming.

Counsel Bensouda put it to him that there was a discount cheque, and he responded that none of the discount was part of the bond.

Again, Counsel Bensouda asked him the total cost of the discount cheques. In response, he told the commission that they would do the calculation. He further stated that according to the documents, he found out that Global Trading Group was interested for NAWEC to benefit from the discount cheques.

He further testified that he was not aware of the extension of fuel supply by Euro Africa Group after the expiration of the agreement in 2012.

It was put to him by Counsel Bensouda that there was 17% mark for a construction of a plant , which was not built, and he said he was not part of it, and that he heard about it from the commission.

He also told the commission that the cost of the plant was not captured in the books of NAWEC , saying the monies left in the account was to buy fuel among other expenses.

Mr. Cham disclosed that GNPC was supplying NAWEC fuel but he was not part of the negotiation. Commissioner Saine then asked him why GNPC continued supplying fuel to NAWEC. He responded that they should check the records, further stating that NAWEC paid GTBank 50% discount.

At this juncture, Commissioner Saine asked him why the office of the former president was intervening, and he responded that the office of the former president was overseeing NAWEC.

Commissioner George put it to him that monies were withdrawn from NAWEC account for the construction of the plant, and was also asked how was it accounted for. He replied that NAWEC treated it as expenses.

At this juncture, documents relating to some correspondences and other relevant documents were tendered and admitted in evidence.

Counsel Bensouda asked him to find out the total cost NAWEC paid for capacity charge, starting from 2005 to date.  Mr. Cham, however, responded that he did the total calculation but was not in a position to tell the commission the total figure.

He was also asked to provide the commission with the audited financial report of the company from 2010 to date.

Commissioner Saine asked him what the revenue of the company was at the time, and he said it was D2.6 million.

Asked whether they had a system of governance, and who negotiated on behalf of NAWEC. He said he did not sign the contract.

He was again asked why NAWEC was responsible for the debt owed by Euro Africa Group to commercial banks. In response, he said because NAWEC owed Euro Africa Group.

Sitting continues today.

Author: Dawda Faye