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General News of Friday, 2 February 2018

Source: citifmonline.com

‘Cash for seat’ Committee presents report to Parliament

The ad-hoc committee tasked by Parliament to investigate the alleged extortion of some expatriates during the 2017 Ghana Expatriates Business Awards ceremony, finally presented its report to Parliament today, Friday, February 2, 2018.

This process has, however, not gone without controversy after complaints from a member of the Committee, Dr. Dominic Ayine that the report which was presented to the House did not include the final input from the Minority members.

The Majority Leader in Parliament, Osei Kyei Mensah-Bonsu had told Citi News on Thursday that laying of the report had been postponed several times because Dr Dominic Ayine had wanted to present a separate report capturing the Minority’s conclusions on the matter.

He told Citi News’ Duke Opoku Mensah that members of the Committee had all agreed to conclude the report on Wednesday, and present it yesterday [Thursday], but Dr. Ayine did not show up at the hotel where the meeting was supposed to take place, despite several assurances from him.

Mensah Bonsu said the committee members had planned to meet on Wednesday at 3 o’clock in the afternoon to put everything in order to be able to submit the report on Thursday.

“One of them was absent, Dr. Dominic Ayine unfortunately, for whatever reason couldn’t go. They called him and he said he will be there at 5:00pm but he couldn’t go. They called him and he said they should give him two hours more which was 7:00pm. 7:00pm they called him, his phones were off. It was not until 12 midnight that he sent words to them to respond to their earlier calls.”

Mensah Bonsu said he was however taken aback when the Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu, informed him on Thursday that Dr. Ayine decided to present a supposed Minority report on the investigations by the Committee.

Mensah Bonsu who is also the MP for Suame, however, urged the committee members to resolve their differences in order for the report to be presented today.

Background of “cash for seat” saga

The Ministry of Trade, which partnered the event organizers, Millennium Excellence Foundation, is alleged to have charged between $25,000 and $100,000, to enable expatriates to sit close to the President at the awards ceremony.

The allegation was first made by the Minority Chief Whip, Muntaka Mubarak in Parliament in December 2017.

Mr. Mubarak said the fees charged at the Ghana Expatriate Business Awards were not approved by Parliament, adding that the monies were also not accounted for in the Internally Generated Funds [IGF] of the Ministry’s accounts.

The allegation was further reinforced by Mr. Ablakwa, who suffered verbal assaults from Deputy Minister for Trade and Industry, Carlos Ahenkorah over the matter.

The Ministry of Trade said it played no role in determining prices for seats at the event, and clarified that it only facilitated the implementation of a new initiative by the Millennium Excellence Foundation.

But the Ministry after an order from the President to probe the matter clarified that an amount of GHc2, 667,215 was realized from the event. This was made known only after the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, had asked the Trade Minister Alan Kyerematen, to investigate the matter and report to him.

The organizers of the Awards had also explained that no one paid to sit close to the President, and that the amount was raised from sponsorship through a fundraising at the event.

Parliament subsequently formed a five-member bi-partisan committee to investigate the matter.

The Committee held several public hearings and a few in-camera sessions that featured all parties named in the allegation, and those who made the allegation.

The committee was supposed to present its report on January 24, 2018 but was subsequently given a one-week extension which was supposed to have elapsed on Wednesday January 31, 2018, but failed to do so.