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General News of Thursday, 2 August 2007

Source: GNA

Probe Ghana@50 expenditure - NDC challenges Kufuor

Accra, Aug. 2, GNA - Two leading members of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) on Thursday called on President John Agyekum Kufuor to probe the huge expenditure of about 315.1 billion cedis spent on the Golden Jubilee commemoration by the Ghana@50 Secretariat.

"The call is in fulfilment of Government's own commitment to accountability and we plead that it should not degenerate into partisan bickering.

"If there is anything, we as Ghanaians must resolve to do on the occasion of our 50th Anniversary celebration, it should be to commit to fiercely resist unaccountable governance," Mr Mahama Ayariga and Mr Victor Smith stated at a press conference in Accra.

Mr. Ayariga who is the NDC MP for Bawku Central said the call was consistent with Article 41(f) of the 1992 Constitution; which mandated Ghanaians to expose and combat misuse and waste of public funds and property.

"In that regard we are calling for nothing less than a comprehensive probe into the activities of the Ghana@50 Secretariat...we would demand a disclosure of the details relating to every project undertaken in the name of the celebration.

"We demand for full disclosure of the companies and type of project executed, the bill of quantities relating to the project and the process for the selecting these companies," he said.

Giving statistics to support the call, Mr Ayariga alleged that Parliament on two occasions approved a sum of 188 billion cedis and 110.1 billion cedis, whiles contributions from corporate bodies amounted to about 22 billion cedis.

He explained that the Secretariat spent 6.815 billion cedis and 4.713 billion cedis on printing diaries and calendars respectively; 319 million cedis to create anniversary website; and 30.631 billion cedis on services.

Other expenditures were; 19.858 billion on furnishing the African Union housing even though 17.489 billion cedis was spent on putting up the house; 24.363 billion cedis on the VVIP lounge at the Kotoka International Airport; 24.349 billion cedis on restoration and rehabilitation of the Independence Square.

Mr Ayariga called for non-partisan condemnation of "gross display of financial recklessness and abuse of trust by the Ghana@50 Secretariat."

He alleged that Members of Parliament especially the minority were handicapped in their attempt to hold the Secretariat accountable on the premise that: "The framework for accountability does not allow MPs to question government appropriations until the submission of the Auditor-Generals financial report.

"This is not an effective mechanism for protecting the public purse, loss of funds to the state would have been occasioned...we therefore call for a more pre-emptive approach to protecting the public funds," he stated.

He also described as outrageous, the expenditure on the Presidential Palace and called for prudent financial expenditure by the government.

Mr. Smith, Aide to the former President Jerry John Rawlings, reiterated the position for non-partisan probing of the Ghana@50 Secretariat to ensure that public officials spent public funds judiciously. 02 Aug. 07