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Opinions of Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Columnist: AFAG

BoG Boss blows $350,000 on hotel rent

The Alliance For Accountable Governance (AFAG) is stunned at how members of the ruling NDC government waste state resources at the least opportunity on issues that usually do not warrant the use of money from state coffers. The level of financial misconduct by state officials under the watch of President John Mahama is distressing and his decision to deliberately pretend he does not know of these scandalous activities is gradually becoming a major concern for Ghanaians and AFAG believes this trend needs to be addressed urgently.

A few days ago Ms Lauretta Lamptey, head of Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) was exposed for spending exorbitant amount of the taxpayer’s money in providing luxurious personal comfort for her by residing in a hotel for 37 months, amounting to a staggering US$203,500. This resulted in a public uproar and Ghanaians across the world condemned her behavior on this matter.

In July 2014, it was disclosed that the NPA paid a monthly rate of US$63,000 as office rent advance for three years, which sums up to an outstanding US$2.3M. Despite the public’s chorus of disapproval and pressure to have the agreement annulled for a more reasonable deal, the NPA chose to ignore the cry of taxpayers and insisted it will see out the rent agreement.

AFAG wonders whether this practice could possibly be the latest inclination by officials of the NDC government in blowing state resources under the pretense of paying for rent or accommodation. This is because it has now been revealed that the Governor of Bank of Ghana has also been resident in a hotel since he began acting as the governor in June of 2012 and his hotel bills have been footed from Ghana’s purse.

Dr Henry Kofi Wampah, since 2012 when he assumed office as the acting governor of Bank of Ghana, has been residing in a hotel facility at a monthly cost of US$12,500 which amount to a shocking US$350,000 from June 2012 to September 2014. Indeed, it would be fair for Ghanaians to assume that these revelations are only a tip of the ice-berg and there could possibly be more damning misuse and misappropriation of Ghanaian taxes.

AFAG asserts that this trend of residing in hotels for long duration by government officials and causing the state financial distress is distasteful and it puts unnecessary spending on our limited state resources when there are readily available accommodation facilities for these officials. However, AFAG is left dumbfounded as to why the President who is suppose to be the chief guard of our state resources is silent on these matters. AFAG quizzes; is it because he doesn’t know of these events or he just doesn’t have to moral right to call these people to order?

AFAG recommends that an investigation is warranted and this must be reported immediately to the appropriate authorities for the right course of action to be taken. Sadly, Dr. Henry Kofi Wampah earlier in the year introduced certain forex rules that worsened the Ghana cedi’s performance against major trading currencies. Dr. Wampah banned commercial banks and other financial houses from issuing cheques and cheque books on foreign exchange accounts (FEA) and foreign currency accounts (FCA). He also prohibited offshore foreign deals by resident companies, including Ghanaian exporters and reduced over-the-counter withdrawal of foreign currency to a meager US$10,000. These moves by the governor did not yield any favorable result in improving the condition of the ailing cedi and was scrapped in June this year, less than 3 months of its introduction.

Ghanaians cannot continue to pay taxes only for some government appointees and state officials to be misusing our money at will. AFAG adds its voice to the growing number of Ghanaians who believe President is not on top of issues. Government appointees and state officials cannot continue to blow state resources in acquiring personal comfort for themselves while the ordinary tax payers continue to struggle to make ends meet and H.E John Mahama looks on unconcerned. This must stop.