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General News of Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Source: Starrfmonline.com

Cash for seat committee clears Alan, et al

The 5-member ad hoc committee of Parliament investigating extortion allegations against the Ministry of Trade and Industry has cleared the Minister Alan Kyerematen and his officials of any wrongdoing.

The Minority-led by MP for Asawase Muntaka Mubarak alleged the Ministry took $100, 000 from expatriates to sit close to President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo during the Ghana Expatriates Business Awards last year.

The Committee in a 146-page report sighted by Starr News said: “… After the hearings and the analysis and evaluation of the evidence adduced before it has come to a conclusion that there is no merit in the allegations leveled against the Ministry of Trade and Industry as contained in the Motion and which culminated in the setting up of the Special Committee.”

The Committee, however, made the following recommendations: “That the Controller and Accountant General and the Ministry of Finance should consider in the formulation of the new Regulation of the PFM Act, adequate provision to cater for public private partnership arrangement and emerging or contemporary issues.

“That there is a need to have a second look at the recall mechanism and ensure that it is not needlessly invoked at any time because of its mandatory nature in the Constitution. Upon a recall, Mr. Speaker may have to establish that there is a “prima facie” case and if Mr. Speaker is not satisfied that there is a good reason for the summoning, he may dispense with the meeting. This test is likely to curtail frivolous and vexatious request for a recall.

“That the practice of some Members of Parliament trooping to the media to make allegations against highly placed officials must cease. The Committee is of the view that Members of Parliament who indulge in such acts ought not to be heard in Parliament if they should thereafter bring those matters before Parliament for Parliament to deliberate on the matter.”

The Committee is presenting the report to the House for approval and adoption today, February 6, 2018.

The Speaker of Parliament, Prof. Mike Aaron Oquaye set up the bi-partisan committee to probe claims that the Trade Ministry extorted as much as $100,000 from expatriates to allow them to sit close to the President at the recently held Ghana Expatriates Business Awards.

Meanwhile, the Minority has presented its side of the report indicting the Trade and Industry Ministry of engaging in “serious ethical violations” by allowing its credibility as a public agency to be used to “amass profit” at the awards.

“Notwithstanding denials to the contrary, there is evidence on record to the effect that, in its initial conception, the event had the President of the Republic as the center of attraction and that payment for seats bore a direct relationship to the distance of the payor’s seat from the presidential high table. Furthermore, the evidence shows clearly that Mr. Ashim Morton forged documents in a desperate attempt to cover up this blatant fact.

“The Ministry of Trade and Industry,” it continued “contravened existing law on public financial management, particularly the Financial Administration Regulations, by allowing the use of an existing account for the receipt of monies that it claimed were private funds.”

The Ministry added the Minority apart from engaging in serious ethical violations further “engaged in deceitful practices in the process of the organization of the awards event by selecting companies for awards even when the companies had not submitted information meeting the designed criteria and also forged documents meant to deceive the Committee and Parliament as a whole.”

The report further stated that they either “failed or neglected to take account of possible violations of foreign corrupt practice laws and regulations in the conception, design and organization of the expatriate business awards.”