General News of Tuesday, 2 June 2009
– PSB gives details of high-living ex-Speaker
THE CONTROVERSY that has surrounded the former Speaker of Parliament, Rt. Hon. Ebenezer Begyina-Sekyi Hughes, is about to be settled, as the former Speaker has been given ten days ultimatum to surrender the items. According to the Parliamentary Service Board (PSB), there was no policy to warrant the former Speaker taking away all the soft furnishing in the Speaker’s residence at the time he was leaving office.
“There is absolutely no policy for disposal of the items for any of the beneficiaries. The Parliamentary Service Board regrets the conduct of the former Speaker, Ebenezer B. Sekyi Hughes, in relation to the issue on the furnishing and disposal of the same, without proper authority.”
In a statement issued yesterday, the PSB after carefully studying the letter written by the Solicitors of Hon. Sekyi-Hughes; Zoe, Atta Akyea & Co., said “The Board decided that the former Speaker should return all the items to the official residence of the Speaker, within ten days, to enable the Board conclude this regrettable matter.”
On allegations that huge sums of money were paid to the leadership in lieu of payment for non-procured soft furnishing items, the PSB had this to say, “On the assertion that one hundred and ninety-five thousand, two hundred Ghana Cedis (GH ¢195,200.00) was approved and paid by the Board of the Fourth Parliament to leadership for furnishing items not procured for them, it must be clearly stated that even though the Board approved payment, nothing was paid as alleged. This is because the Clerk expressed difficulty in implementing the decision since the amount in question was not captured in the 2008 budget for the office of Parliament.”
The statement continued, “The Parliamentary Service Board wishes to reiterate that no such payment has been made till date. The Board also wishes to succinctly state that aside the leadership, the Clerk was requested at the said meeting to confer with the then Chairman of the Board, Rt. Hon. Ebenezer B. Sekyi Hughes, to discuss the non-procured items and other related matters affecting the Chairman. There was, however, no discussion with the former Speaker as directed.”
The press statement headed -‘Parliamentary Service Board decides on furnishing items illegally taken away from the official residence of the Speaker; by the former Speaker of Parliament, Rt. Hon. Ebenezer B. Sekyi Hughes,’ was issued after a meeting held yesterday, at Sir Charles Emmanuel Quist Conference Room in Accra. The PSB spoke on the retention of procured items by former Speakers, Speaker’s official residence in Cantoments and related matters, furnishing on Speaker Sekyi Hughes’ temporary accommodation at the State House and related matters, procedure for delivery of requisitions for Speaker and leadership and many other thorny issues.
On the retention of procured items by former Speakers, the PSB intimated that the Speaker of the First Parliament of the Fourth Republic, the late Rt. Hon. Justice Daniel Francis Annan lived in a public residence. According to the PSB, items supplied for his official use were returned on leaving office.
Speaking on the tenure of the late Rt. Hon. Peter Ala Adjetey, the PSB said the late Speaker lived in his private residence throughout his tenure as Speaker, and was supplied with a few items, saying that upon retirement, rent for which he would have benefited for living in his private residence instead of an official residence, was refused him on the basis of the cost of the items supplied.
“Two former Clerks to Parliament, Messrs Samuel Ntim Darkwa and Rex Owusu-Ansah, lived in government bungalows but were not officially supplied with any furnishing items, and could not have gone with any thing official. Indeed, it was the immediate past Clerk to Parliament, Mr. K.E.K Tachie, who has six year old sitting room furnishing and beds in his possession.”
The PSB after expressing disgust over the position taken by the former Speaker, to the effect that he took the items on a ‘bona fide’ claim of right, observed that it was unfortunate that the events took different dimensions with a lot of distortions.
On the Speaker’s official residence in Cantoments and related matters, after he was housed almost a year at the State House, the PSB expressed disgust over allusions made by the former Speaker and other commentators suggesting that amounts were paid to the leadership.
“The Board is also aware of several allusions of the former Speaker and other commentators about payments made to leadership for non-procured soft furnishing items, and an alleged existing convention, which allows leadership and senior management staff of the Parliamentary Service to retain soft furnishing items on leaving office.
The Board after a painstaking investigation wishes to clear the air and also correct some distortions raised by the solicitors of the former Speaker in their letter.” The PSB further explained how the former Speaker, Hon. Sekyi Hughes was accommodated at the State House, until he moved to the official residence at Cantoments.
On the procedure for delivery of requisitions for Speaker and leadership, the PSB said the Parliamentary Service keeps records of all items delivered to the household of the Speaker and members of leadership.
The statement further explained that the existing practice was that every item was issued through the Stores, whilst the Development Department delivers them to their intended destination. “It is mandatory for both the Stores and the Development Department to keep inventory of all items.”
In another move to give account of how the former Speaker was accommodated at Cantonments, the PSB noted that Hon. Ebenezer B. Sekyi Hughes was the first occupant of the new permanent official residence of the Speaker at Cantonments.
According to the PSB, Speaker Hughes moved into the official residence in late December, 2006, just before Christmas, with an explanation that the Speaker had by then spent almost two years of his four-year term living in the State House. “In reality, the former Speaker stayed in the permanent official residence for almost two years, a time too short to underscore the point that some of the items might have suffered any appreciable wear and tear.”
The Board also noted that no complaint was made by Speaker Sekyi Hughes as to whether items ordered to be supplied for his official use were not supplied or delivered, stressing that “The immediate past Clerk, Mr. K.E.K Tachie did not present any report to the contrary. It is a fact that Speaker Sekyi Hughes travelled extensively whilst in office, as indicated in his submission.
However, the official residence was at all times under 24-hour security surveillance by both the Parliamentary Security Guards and Personnel of the Ghana Police Service (Parliamentary Police Unit). The Residence is also equipped with security cameras to check intrusion/burglary or pilfering. On no occasion was there a report of burglary or pilfering in the Speaker’s Residence," the statement added.