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Press Releases of Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Source: Ambrose Entsiwah

National Service Scheme Responds To Media Allegations

PRESS STATEMENT

There have been a number of publications about the Ghana National Service Scheme (GNSS) in the Ghanaian media in the past three weeks.

In a letter dated 19th September, 2011 by a Board member of the GNSS to the Chairman of the Council of State and copied to the media, certain allegations of financial impropriety were made.

Management of the Scheme has taken the view that these allegations, although apparently being made against the Executive Director, actually impinges the competence and effectiveness of management as a collective body, for which reason management has decided to put out the facts as are available.

EJURA FARMS
The Board discussed this project in its maiden meeting with the Executive Director in September, 2009. Following from that meeting, the Board led by its Chairman held meetings with the Hon. Minister for Agric and other relevant bodies in November 2009 on the viability of the project and in January 2010, three clear months before the commencement of the project, a board member led the purchase of tractors and other farming equipment. In May 2010 the Board visited the farm to see its progress at first hand and also held its ordinary meeting in Ejura as part of the visit to the farm. In fact, when the Hon. Minister of Education directed management to sell the produce from the farm to the 95 Senior High Schools (SHS) in the Ashanti Region at a subsidized rate, it was the Board Chairman who at a ceremony of Chiefs and people and Headmasters of the SHS in Ashanti handed over the maize to the schools at Ejura.

From the above, it is difficult to understand how one could state that the pilot project was without the Board’s input from start.

With regard to the claim of losses, it was explained to the Board that 60% of the cost of production was “Development Cost”, i.e. cost of machinery, stumping, and land preparation which cannot be recovered in one farming season. Considering the objective of the project, produce was sold to the schools at 50% less than the market price.

OBJECTIVES OF THE NSS AGRIC PROGRAMME

1. Introduce the young graduates to modernized Agriculture;
2. Support the government’s effort at increasing food production;
3. Encourage entrepreneurship among young graduates;
4. Use the farms as mobilization centres for skill training.
The expenditure on these projects were duly approved by Parliament and therefore due process was strictly adhered to.

PROCUREMENT

As required by law, and for purposes of transparency, the board was duly informed about procurement of a number of items to enhance administrative work. These items were all advertised in the Daily Graphic and Ghanaian Times of Tuesday, 13th July, 2010, Daily Graphic of 12th August, 2010 and Daily Graphic of Wednesday, 22nd September, 2010.

The total cost of the items purchased is Five hundred and eighteen thousand two hundred ninety-nine Ghana Cedis and seven pesewas (GH¢518,299.07) and not five hundred and eighteen million, two hundred and eighty-eight thousand Ghana Cedis (GH¢518,288,000.00) as quoted by the Board member and its subsequent publications.

It is important to state that the Scheme has a procurement Committee which is composed of two Honourable Members of Parliament, a Principal State Attorney from the Attorney-General’s Department, a representative from the Ministry of Education and four other Directors of the Scheme. It is therefore difficult to understand how a Board member could cast doubt on the integrity of such a committee.

HIRING OF RETIRED POLICE OFFICER

Management has not employed any retired police officer above age 60 years into its fold. The gentleman in question, Asante Hayford is not a retired police officer and he is also not 60 or above. He went through the due process before being appointed to the Human Resource Department.

Management wishes to urge the media to contact the Scheme to clear some of these issues before publication in order to afford the general public the opportunity to do a fair assessment of issues.


Signed: Ambrose Entsiwah Jnr Head of Public Relations

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