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General News of Saturday, 29 February 2020

Source: The Herald

GETFund scholarship: A-G & Deputy Minister haggling


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The Auditor-General, Daniel Domelevo and a Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Kennedy Osei Nyarko, are haggling over who is to blame on the inclusion of the latter’s name in the list of beneficiaries of the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund) scholarship captured in its performance audit report.

While Mr Domelevo, is urging Mr Nyarko to take his grievances to the doorstep of GETFund, because his men only worked with the list provided them by the Fund, the deputy minister is insistent on dragging him to court for the issue of his involvement to be settled still putting the burden of proof before the Auditor-General.

The confusion over who and who benefitted from scholarship, continuous to be deepened by the various denialsfrom other persons aside the Deputy Minister, who have also been captured by the audit report. The denials are beginning to suggest some criminal activities ongoing at the GETfund with a syndicate using the names of the prominent persons to syphon money from state coffers under the guise of scholarships to foreign universities.

One Hajia Ramana Shareef, a lady who was captured by the audit of the Ghana Education Trust fund, to have received a total of £22,000 for her United Kingdom (UK) education in 2013, did not actually receive a dime.

According to her, although she applied and got an award letter, the fees was never paid which made it impossible for her to secure the admission and to also get a visa forcing her to defer her course twice before she finally cancelled it.

She has since gotten her lawyer, Sampson Lardi Anyenini to write and officially deny the scholarship.

The lawyer for the journalist asked management of the fund how Ramana Shareef’s name appeared in the Auditor-General’s report, since she never got the money.

In a letter to GETFund, Samson Lardy Anyenini, said Ms. Shareef “did apply for scholarship after gaining admission to pursue MSc Communication for Innovation and Development at the University of Reading.”But GETFund after issuing an award letter which stated that the tuition fee and living allowance would be paid, failed to do so.

This forced the former Metro TV journalist to defer her course twice, the lawyers wrote.The University of Reading has also confirmed that it never received the tuition fees.

However, the Auditor-General’s performance audit report of GETFund scholarship from 2012 to 2018 listed the journalist, as having had her fees and living allowance totaling £22,730.00 paid by GETFund.

“Kindly explain the development, your secretariat being the source of the primary information/documentation for said audit Report.“Your explanation will guide further action by our client over the embarrassment caused her,” the counsel to Ms. Shareef wrote.

The journalist herself, in a Facebook post denied receiving the GETFund money, adding “I still can’t come to terms with this GETFUND issue! Is it sheer wickedness, witchcraft, insensitivity, selfishness, hatred or what?

The more I think about it, the more I can’t believe why they will issue an award letter they don’t intend paying. Till now I was hoping maybe, just maybe they paid the money later without my knowledge and that is why my name was in their books, but I can confidently confirm that, there was no payment at any point in time! Not even a penny was paid to the school. I have evidence to that.

So what at all was it? I have two people in my inbox who have written to me that, their names are in the list but they did not receive the money. And as Jojo Edina Manba Hughes, I think the Auditor General could have at least spoken to some of us or even the schools before putting out the report. This is so unfair!”

Others, including the Education Minister, Dr. Matthew Opoku Prempeh, have also said amounts mentioned as given them, were not accurate as they received far less than that meaning, the GETFund administrators, have some questions to answer.

Dr. Matthew Opoku Prempeh, the Minister of Education for insistence was said to have gotten some US$24,000 GETFund scholarship, but he denied the amount.

According to GETFund’s Annual Reports from 2012 to 2018, the secretariat spent GHS425, 698,937 on scholarships on 3,112 beneficiaries out of which 2,217 persons were unlawfully granted scholarships to study abroad.

A Deputy Minister of Agriculture, had questioned the credibility of the audit done by the Auditor-General, on the GETFund scholarship scheme which listed the likes of MP for Dome-Kwabenya, Deputy Majority Leader in Parliament and Minister for Procurement, Sarah Adwoa Sarfo and Dr. Opoku Prempeh and other beneficiaries. This was, however, before they became government appointees.

The Procurement Minister, is listed as having studied at the Harvard Kennedy School, benefiting from US$12,800 in allowances with US$17,004 in tuition fees.

Dr. Opoku Prempeh is captured to have participated in a course on National and International Security at Harvard University, where he received US$12,800 for living expenses and US$11,200 as tuition fees.

But the Deputy Minister in a statement, noted that he wasn’t the recipient of a GETFund award in 2014. His name was listed as one of those who benefited from the scholarship. But he has denied ever receiving such an award and queried the Auditor-General over the matter.

“I want to state categorically that I have not benefited from any GETFund scholarship to study abroad, and I do not intend to apply for any scholarship from the GETFund administrators to pursue my education. I am capable of financing my education to whatever level I want to go whether doing it locally or abroad,” Mr Osei Nyarko, told Citi News.

“I have not attended such university to pursue any program. I was surprised to see my name on the list. What was the motivation for putting my name there? I have instructed my lawyers to write to the Auditor-General to seek for immediate retraction for whatever list he has put out,” he added.

The Akim Swedru legislator on Monday, threatened to sue the Auditor-General if his name was not retracted from the list of beneficiaries because he never benefitted from the said scholarship to study abroad.

Mr Domelevo then directed the Deputy Agric Minister to the Ghana Education Trust Fund for answers on his inclusion on the list.

The Auditor-General in response to Mr Osei Nyarko’s request, said that his office did not “cause to be published any ‘supposed list of top political figures’ who are claimed to have benefitted from a scholarship at the Ghana Education Trust Fund as alleged by you.”

In a letter, Mr Domelevo, said that he has no intention of being biased to anyone and clarified that the “information contained in an audit report is from the audited entity, and in this instance, every information or names that are contained in the performance audit report on GETFund came from GETFund, the audited entity”.

However, Mr Osei Nyarko, feeling justified by this response wondered whether the Auditor-General is trustworthy.

“It is clear from the foregoing that my position has been vindicated. The Auditor-General did not audit the information supplied his office by GETFund. Can this person be trusted as an Auditor-General? Can this one too be called Proper Audit?” he questioned in a release. The Auditor-General, indicted GETFund for breaching its mandate and “illegally” funding foreign scholarships.

A performance audit report from the Auditor-General, said the GETFund Secretariat “breached the object of the fund and administered the scholarship themselves.”It also said GETFund’s selection process was not robust enough, describing it as “unfair, dominated by one person and porous.”

“This allowed unqualified applicants to benefit rather than brilliant but needy Ghanaians as contemplated by Act 581,” the report stated.

But speaking on Asempa FM’s Ekosiisen, Kennedy Osei Nyarko, said they have equally written to GETFund for information on his inclusion in the list of undeserving scholarship beneficiaries.

According to him, the response from the Auditor-General and GETFund, will inform their decision to head to court for the issue to be settled insisting the court will provide the platform for all to provide evidence to their statements.

Mr Nyarko, also questions the auditor’s inability to probe the information provided to them by GETFund to confirm whether or not the documents given them are correct.

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