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General News of Saturday, 22 June 2019

Source: citinewsroom.com

Ashaiman MP to petition Special Prosecutor over alleged procurement breaches at GEPA

The Member of Parliament for Ashaiman, Ernest Norgbey has threatened to file a petition against the Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA) at the Office of the Special Prosecutor.

It follows what he said were allegations of procurement breaches in the accounts of the Authority and others as captured in the 2018-2019 Auditor General’s Report.

He argued that, GEPA failed to seek the approval from its board before going into some agreements that ran into millions of Ghana cedis.

The legislator claimed that the money lost as a result of the infractions could have been invested into other important national projects hence he will not hesitate to have the matter investigated.

“In the Auditor’s General Report that was submitted to us, there were a lot of procurement breaches especially in the area of the Ghana Exports and Promotion Center. We know the Public Procurement Act, stipulates that before you engage in any single sourcing procurement, you must seek the approval of the board.”

“But unfortunately, the GEPA, didn’t seek the approval of the board and awarded a contract to the tune of almost Ghc 230 million and US$ 123, 0000. They didn’t also seek the entity’s tender approval by awarding another contract to the tune of Ghc 50,000. These are all procurement breaches so what I intend to do, is to petition the Special Prosecutor so that they can investigate”, he added.

Read below excerpts of what the Auditor General stated about GEPA in its recent report to Parliament

No approval was obtained from the Controller and Accountant General (CAG) for three [3] operational bank accounts which the Authority opened with the First Atlantic Bank, Accra in 2017.

We advised management to procure the concurrence of the CAG on the three operational bank accounts under reference. We also advised management to go through due process before any bank account is opened in future.

Between April 2017 and June 2018, the Authority received a total of GH¢32,949,957.57 from the Ghana Export-Import (EXIM) Bank as its 10 percent share of the 0.75 percent Import Levy. However, the Authority was not provided with any evidence such as transactions report or funds release advice from the EXIM Bank or the CommissionerGeneral of the Customs Division of Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) to confirm the 0.75 percent Import Levy collected for the period and the Authority’s 10 percent share thereof.

We recommended that such releases should be supported with evidence of the total 0.75 percent Import Levy received by the Commissioner-General of GRA and EXIM Bank.

Between August and December 2017, the Authority made payments totalling GH¢192,400.00, described as honorarium, courtesies & protocols, special and sitting allowances to all the members and supporting staff of Parliamentary Select Committees on Trade, Industry and Tourism, Finance and the Women’s Caucus in Parliament but was unable to substantiate the payments.

We requested management to provide justification to substantiate the payments totalling GH¢192,400.00 to the various Committee members, failing which, the former ES and Director of Finance would be jointly held liable to refund the amount.

Our review of the Authority’s procurements disclosed that management engaged Resource Persons for the provision of various Consultancy services amounting to GH¢269,473.50 & USD$123,000.00 through single sourcing, but was unable to provide us with correspondence from the Public Procurement Authority (PPA) authorising the use of the single source procurement method.

We requested management to provide PPA’s approval for the use of single source procurement method on the engagement of consultants amounting to GH¢269,473.50 and USD$123,000.00; failing which sanctions prescribed by Section 92 (1) of Act 663 of 2003 and Sections 5 (1and 3) of the Public Procurement Amendment Act, 2016 (Act 914), would be invoked against the former Executive Secretary and Director of Finance who approved the payments.

In September 2017 and February 2018, the former ES awarded two separate contracts for consultancy services totalling USD$123,000.00 (GH?542,640.00) to Mr. Kwesi Korbor, Kaneshie-Accra, and BLC Investment Consult, Accra, but could not provide documentary approval of the Authority’s Entity Tender Committee for the procurement activities. We further noted that the Authority had a functioning Entity Tender Committee but the contracts were not referred to it for approval though the individual contract values were above the ES’s approving threshold. We requested the former ES, Ms. Gifty Klenam to provide approval of the Authority’s Entity Tender Committee on the contracts valued at USD$123,000.00, for our review and further action.

At its meeting held on 1 February 2018, the Council unilaterally approved and paid members remuneration and allowances totalling GH?180,886.00 for the period November 2017 to May 2018 but could not provide documentary approval by the Minister of Finance.