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General News of Thursday, 27 July 2017

Source: GNA

Journalists’ accreditation money in GCB - EC Boss

Chair of the Electoral Commission, Charlotte Osei was summoned to appear before Parliament. play videoChair of the Electoral Commission, Charlotte Osei was summoned to appear before Parliament.

The monies the Electoral Commission (EC) took from media persons for accreditation to cover last year’s general election are intact at the GCB.

Mrs Charlotte Osei, Chair of the Commission told Parliament on Wednesday that the money was estimated at GHC2.5 million, but did find expression in the 2017 Budget statement.

“It was an oversight,” she said, adding that she was speaking as the Chair for the Commission, and not for all the Commissioners.

She indicated that the oversight was discovered after she got the letter last week from Parliament to answer the question.

Mrs Osei’s appearance in Parliament followed an urgent question filed by Mr Eugene Antwi, Member of Parliament (MP) for Subin over some discrepancies in the Commission’s 2017 financial statement.

The MP for Subin had explained to the media that he had detected discrepancies in the Commission’s 2017 financial report and that Government’s 2017 Budget had shown that the EC did not raise any money internally last year.

The MP said he did not understand the development as the Commission raised some monies during the December 2016 general election from journalists and citizens.

The Commission charged GHC10.00 from journalists for media accreditation and GHC5.00 for replacement of lost voter’s ID cards ahead of the elections, but the total accrued was not captured in the EC’s financial statement submitted to the government.

She said the money charged from journalists for accreditation cards during the 2016 elections was handed to the contractors.

"The producers charged GHC8.00 and the EC took GHC2.00," she said, adding that the money the printers took did not include VAT and NHIS charges.

Mrs Osei said the practice of collecting money from journalists was not a new practice and that it had been done in other elections in other elections, especially in the district assembly elections to allow more journalists to cover the elections and to give them access restricted areas.

‘This is not the first time the Commission has charged journalists for accreditation. This had happened in the district assembly elections and so it wasn’t the first time,” she said.

“Judging by the numbers; that’s 4,271 and the way that the media covered the elections very effectively, we don’t think it is a bad practice.”

She gave the assurance that the Commission would liaise with the Ministry of Finance to correct the mistake.

Meanwhile, Mr Osei Kyei-Mensa-Bonsu on Wednesday withdrew the Office of Special Prosecutor Bill, for the Bill to be taken through the normal procedure as recommended by the Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, rather than a certificate of urgency requested by the Government.

The Minority has been demanding the Government to withdraw the bill because it was not laid in accordance with the required provisions.

The Zongo Development Fund Bill was also withdrawn.

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