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General News of Tuesday, 7 August 2007

Source: Chronicle

NPP MP cries over Ghana@50 loot

... But Mpiani says no cause for alarm
Ghana@50 Secretariat staff acquires huge mansion overnight

THE CRUSADING Member of Parliament for Asikuma-Odoben-Brakwa in the Central region, Hon. P. C. Appiah Ofori says the controversial $11.8 million loan approved by parliament recently for the Ghana @50 Secretariat was unconstitutional and must be rejected by those who believe in democracy and rule of law.

He said by law, all government estimates should be approved by Parliament and the appropriation Act but this time round, the money was spent before the Executive brought it to parliament for approval which contravened both articles 178 and 179 clauses (8) and (9) of the 1992 constitution.

The said article, 179 (8) reads, “where in respect of financial year, it is found out that the amount of monies appropriated by the appropriation Act for any purpose is insufficient or that a need has arisen for expenditure for a purpose for which no sum of moneys has been appropriated by that Act, a supplementary estimate showing the sum of money required, shall be laid before parliament for its approval.”

Hon. P. C. Ofori who was speaking in an interview with The Chronicle last sunday, said in a clear contravention of the appropriation Act, Ghana @50 Secretariat spent monies far in excess of the $20 million loan and contributions made by individuals and corporate bodies amounting to 20 billion cedis which parliament approved last year.

He said after committing this illegal act, the executive brought the already spent money to parliament in the form of loan for its approval but despite the fact that he and some others raised the issue, the majority side went ahead to approve the loan.

According to Hon. Ofori, he had earlier raised the issue at the committee level to the effect that the government estimates of ¢54.3 trillion which parliament approved last year did not include the $11.8 million.

He said though the minister of finance and economic planning, Kwadwo Baah Wiredu showed him the budget statement, which indicated that the money was part of the budget approved by parliament, he found out that it was in the appendix, which was not part of the main budget.

The crusading MP said information he had obtained from credible source indicated that a staff at the Ghana @50 Secretariat had acquired a huge mansion overnight. “If this is actually true then it means part of the $11.8 million loan is going to be used to pay for this loot which must not be accepted,” he said.

He said this was not the first time that the executive had contravened the provisions of the constitution and that in 2005, the government spent ¢8.135trillion on personal emoluments as against the approved sum of ¢7.2trillion. “When I questioned them to tell me the one who authorized them to spend the extra money they could not give any satisfactory answer,” he said.

He cautioned that the NPP government, of which he is part, was creating the avenue for people to file legal suits against it. To him, the government would find itself wanting if somebody should go to court over the issue because it was clear that the government had breached the constitution over the spending of government estimates.

P. C. Ofori further told The Chronicle that what was going on within the government was very bad but anytime some of them raised the issue or speak against it, they are victimized.

He said because he had been critical on the government, he had been dropped as chairman of most of the committees.

He called on his colleague NPP MPs to put their party affiliation aside and confront issues about the government in an objective way otherwise they would be failing the nation. He warned that should the NPP government fail the nation, it is not only President Kufuor alone who would be blamed but also the entire membership of the NPP.

A leading member of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the Member of Parliament for Bawku Central, Hon. Mahama Ayariga last week Thursday called a news conference where he called for immediate probe into the activities at the Ghana@50 secretariat. Ayariga said there had been reckless dissipation of state monies and that it was only a probe that could unearth the truth.

The chief of staff, Mr. Kojo Mpiani has meanwhile denied any wrongdoing. He told Joy FM last Saturday that monies allocated to the Ghana@50 secretariat had dully been accounted for. According to him part of the money was used to construct new VVIP lounge at the Kotoka International airport.