Reactions to the SML Deal and Emerging Responses from Government

Accra, Thursday, 4th January, 2024

In the latter part of 2023, citizens were presented with what could be characterized as the final scandalous exposé of 2023. The Fourth Estate unearthed a worrying alliance between the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) and SML (Strategic Mobilisation Ghana Limited), a startup of mysterious origins, wherein the state allocates substantial sums annually to the private contractor under the guise of revenue assurance in the petroleum downstream sector. The revelation didn’t end there. In the course of investigating this strange contract, evidence also emerged that under the express instruction of the finance minister, SML would also become the primary auditor of the upstream petroleum and minerals (especially gold) sectors in a deal that could cost the country more than $120 million every year. Over the horizon envisaged in the contract, SML’s total take may well top a billion dollars.

In response to the ensuing Fourth Estate documentary and public outcry, GRA issued a statement justifying its contractual association with SML. However, yesterday saw an unexpected intervention by the President of Ghana, who announced the appointment or engagement of KPMG to investigate the contractual relationship between the GRA and SML.

Upon reflection, it becomes evident that the situation, whilst politically sensitive, is technically straightforward, notwithstanding ongoing efforts to muddy the waters. In this brief note, ACEP and Imani intends to refocus the discussions back to the essentials.