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General News of Monday, 17 December 2018


Foreign Affairs Ministry accused of inflating figures

A six-bedroom apartment that was sold to an “unknown person” for 3.5 million dollars in Oslo, Norway, is alleged to have been bought by Ghana’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs at the cost of 12.21 million dollars.

Member of Parliament for South Tongu Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, who made the allegation, wondered the kind of due diligence done on the said property which has been converted into Ghana’s chancery in Oslo.

He made the allegation when the house was considering the budget estimates for the Foreign Affairs Ministry.

While addressing Parliament on Monday, December 17, the Ranking Member on the Foreign Affairs Ministry Committee accused the Foreign Affairs Minister of overseeing the purchase of a property which does not provide value for money.

“Mr. Speaker, investigations that we have conducted on this side reveals that the $16.5 million that the Foreign Affairs Ministry has been presented with as the budget for the new mission in Oslo, the chancery and the ambassador’s resident is outrageously high.

“It is outlandishly inflated. The chancery building and I have the records here Mr. Speaker,” Mr. Okudzeto stated.

He also alleged that the Ministry is buying a Chancery in Tel Aviv for $4.5 million, and another in Geneva for $3 million.

Mr. Ablakwa said he had shown documents pertaining to his allegations to the Foreign Affairs Committee of Parliament; hence, his allegations are valid.

But Chairman of the Committee, Frank Annoh Dompreh said the document is not officially before the Committee even though Mr. Okudzeto has written to the Foreign Affairs Minister about the issue.

The Speaker of Parliament, Professor Aaron Mike Oquaye then asked for the said documents to be tabled for consideration, after which the Speaker of Parliament then went on to rule on the matter.

Professor Oquaye said documents cited by Mr. Okudzeto is not validated nor stamped by any proper authority, hence it cannot be used as evidence.

“Both leaders of the house have not seen the document; the Committee has not seen the document. This document is not validated in whatsoever way, no stamp, no seal.

“It would not be accepted in any competent court of jurisdiction,” Professor Oquaye stated.

He added that “no self-service document” can be thrashed on the house with allegations.

This resulted in a heated back and forth between the Speaker and Samuel Okudzeto, and the Speaker had to abruptly suspend sitting.

When the house resumed, the Foreign Affairs Minister, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey indicated that she will not in any way superintend any act of corruption, or wrong doing or supervise inflation of figures.

The Minority, led by Okudzeto Ablakwa called for a probe into the matter to which the majority leader agreed.

The Minister was given three months to present to the house her outfit’s findings on the matter.