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General News of Sunday, 7 January 2018

Source: citifmonline.com

‘Cash for seats’ at business events standard practice – IMANI Boss

President of policy think tank, IMANI Ghana, Franklin Cudjoe is of the view that the organisers of the Ghana Expatriates Business Awards did not err by charging expatriates for seats close to President Nana Akufo-Addo during the event.

According to him, it is standard international practice to offer table sponsorship packages to attendees of such an event in order to raise funds.

Mr Cudjoe, however, added that it would be wrong if the expatriates were compelled to pay those amounts in order to get seats at the event. He noted that the reason the issue became a public discussion is that the Trade Ministry did not handle the whole process well.

“My personal opinion is that the Trade Ministry handled this thing quite poorly. Secondly, I have to also say that if you organize a formal programme with business people, there is actually nothing entirely wrong if they paid for tables…unless of course, those sums were indeed extorted. We have to differentiate the two.”

Franklin Cudjoe argued that “if the sums were not extorted and to the extent that it was a business meeting, and people wanted to sit close to the president there is nothing wrong.”

“I would have thought that if the tables were sold in a manner that made people feel that I’m being made to pay a sum that I don’t like, that’s the difference here. It’s standard practice but I think it was poorly executed by the Ministry, of course, that is what I feel,” he added.

The IMANI boss made the remark on Citi FM’s news analysis programme, The Big Issue on Saturday when the issue came up for review in relation to the setting up of a five-member Parliamentary Committee to investigate the matter.

Background

The Ministry of Trade allegedly charged expatriates between $25,000 and $100,000, to enable them sit close to the President at the awards ceremony, which was organised by the Millennium Excellence Foundation.

Despite the President clearing the Trade Ministry of any wrongdoing in the matter, the Speaker of Parliament recalled the House on Friday, January 5, 2017, to consider a motion submitted by the Minority Chief Whip in Parliament, Muntaka Mubarak for the setting up of the adhoc committee which was then tasked to probe the claims.

The Committee has until January 25, 2017, to submit its report.