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General News of Monday, 7 July 2014

Source: The General Telegraph

Ghana Gas blows Ghc148,000 on plane tickets

In the wake of the presidency’s recent announcement that it was undertaking a critical review of the official approval procedures that enabled the National Petroleum Authority to spend a colossal US$ 63, 000 monthly on the payment of office rent, similar reports of misuse of public funds by some state agencies may be making their way to the desk of Chief of Staff at the presidency soon.

The General Telegraph can reveal that the Board of the Ghana National Gas Company spent a whopping Ghc148,000 on plane tickets for four people who travelled by first class on two occasions. The expenditure did not include per diem, accommodation, feeding and in-country and transport costs paid to the officials who undertook the trips.

Documents made available to The General Telegraph by an exclusive source show that Ghana Gas paid a total of GHc 65, 246.00 to Journeymax Executive Travels Limited for three Accra-Dubai-Dubai-Accra air tickets for three officials of the company who went on a trip to Dubai between January 4, 2014 and January 9, 2014. The officials included Dr George Sipa-Yankey, CEO of Ghana Gas, Dr. Kwesi Botchway, Mr Eric Yankah and Mr. Amarquaye Armah. Checks by the General Telegraph have established that Armah has no portfolio either as a consultant or Board member at Ghana Gas. According to the documents, the company paid Journeymax GHc 82, 400.60 for British Airways tickets {Accra-London, London-Beijing, Beijing-London and London-Accra} for trips by Dr. Kwesi Botchway and Eric Yankah between December 7 and December 14, 2013. Our source who claims to have links with Journeymax showed us documentary evidence of purchases of the tickets for the officials mentioned. He said he felt compelled to draw our attention to what he called "immoral expenditure" by a state institution, “and especially one, that does not produce anything but draws from the Consolidated Fund.” “Where is the gas they promised us?" he lamented.

He said he share the view of those who have in recent times suggested a change of board membership at Ghana Gas.

Asked why he had withheld the information since January 2014 and was only now making the disclosure to this paper, he said he was encouraged to do so by the presidency’s positive response to the petition of patriotic citizens who insisted that the rent agreement under which the National Petroleum Authority rented an office building at the rate of US$ 63,000 a month. In the wake of calls for a revocation of the rental agreement, the Chief of Staff at the presidency, Mr. Prosper Bani, recently ordered the National Petroleum Authority not to renew its $63,000 a month office rent agreement with the owner of the office building. Mr. Bani also announced that the Presidency was “reviewing the approval processes that went into the decision to commit state funds to rent an office when the upfront payment involved could have completed a permanent office building for the NPA”, and asked boards and managements of state institutions to ensure prudent spending of public funds by undertaking similar reviews. The presidency has also queried the payment of US$ 480,000 by the Bulk Storage and Transportation {BOST} for office space for one year with a further commitment to pay US$ 40,000 montly thereafter, for the office space. The Ghana National Gas Company was is incorporated in July 2011 and given the mandate the to “build, own and operate infrastructure required for the gathering, processing, transporting and marketing of natural gas resources in the country. The company has said its mission is to “accelerate the nation’s effort of rapid industrialization by providing cost competitive natural gas and gas based products for domestic markets including the development of petrochemical industries, fertilizer and power generation, as well as export markets.” Implementation of the project started in August 2012. Work on the GNGC’s flagship project, the Atuabo Gas Plant is complete and gas production is expected to start before the end of this year.

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