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General News of Tuesday, 18 December 2018


Minister confronts Ablakwa

The Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Shirley Ayorkor Botchway, yesterday clashed with the ranking member of the Foreign Affairs Committee of Parliament, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, over a purported property which the ministry was seeking to buy to serve as a chancellery for Ghana’s mission in Norway.

Okudzeto Ablakwa, who is also the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Member of Parliament for North Tongu in debating the 2019 budget estimates for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, had alleged that the ministry was going to buy a six-bedroom property whose value had been inflated by over $8 million which translated into GH¢41.7 million.

According to him, through their own investigations, they discovered that the six-bedroom apartment was sold at $3,598,108 in 2017, and now the same property is being bought at an outrageous price of $12,218,487.

He said even in Norway a Norwegian financial newspaper by name Finansavisen had written about the sale of the property at the quoted price of $3.6 million in 2017.

He noted that the new price or the property which is now $12.2 million has been described by Norwegian Real Estates Brokers as ‘unethical’.

He therefore said that with the inflated cost of the chancellery that the ministry is seeking to purchase, the minority cannot support the approval of the ministry’s budget estimates of GH¢465,576,872.

On her part, the minister said the picture the ranking member was painting could not be true.

According to her, the ministry had initially wanted to purchase that property to use as chancellery in Oslo but its independent checks found out that the price of the property had been inflated and had therefore decided to back out of that transaction.

She said, as the minister, she would not like to supervise or superintendent over any corrupt transactions that would lead to loss of money to the state.

“I cannot enter into such transaction that will lead to financial loss to the state,” she said, adding that was the reason why they backed out of the transaction.

She indicated that further investigations even revealed that the same property was being sold to The Gambia for the same purpose.

The chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Frank Annoh-Dompreh, said the issue was brought to the attention of the committee by the ranking member after which he said the committee would seek further clarification from the ministry on that allegation.

He said he was surprised that the ranking member, in contributing to the debate on the estimates, raised the matter which the committee is investigating.

He lambasted the ranking member for doing politics with everything.

The minister nearly had exchange of blows at the foyer of Parliament with the MP for Ningo Prampram, Sam George.

The two had disagreement over the Norwegian Chancellery building in Oslo.

The disagreement was occasioned by alleged filming of the minister during her engagement with Okudzeto Ablakwa and other Minority MPs.

The minister was, however, held back by her security detail and the Chairman of Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, Frank Annoh Dompreh, averting a possible physical challenge.