Cash for seat saga: Expatriate businesses fail to show up at Committee sitting

19-01-2018

Cash for seat saga: Expatriate businesses fail to show up at Committee sitting

Expatriate businesses expected to take their turn at the Special Committee hearing in Parliament House failed to show up on Tuesday, January 16, 2018, for unexplained reasons, Committee chairman, Kwasi Ameyaw-Cheremeh has confirmed.

The five member Committee hearing has to be suspended indefinitely due to the no-show of the business companies.

Mr Ameyaw-Cheremeh explained “Today we plan to have before us Expatriate businesses, we have written to them, we gave them 10:00 to appear before us, unfortunately we have waited up until now, its ten minutes after eleven, and none has shown up so we are unable to continue with the work of the Committee for the day.

So we will adjourn and probably recontact them to appear before us at a later date to be determined by the Committee, we will give them that opportunity to appear before us, we shall announce to the public like we did previously when we are able to firm up the new date”.

The Special Committee set up by the Speaker of Parliament to investigate the issues surrounding the recently held Ghana Excellency Business Award (GEBA) started hearing last Thursday [11th January,2018] and have so far interrogated minority members, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa(Member of Parliament for North Tongu) and Mohammed Mubarak Muntaka(Member of Parliament for Asawase).

Others include: officials from the Trade and Industry Ministry as well as event ogranisers, Millennium Excellence Foundation.

Prior to today’s hearing, Tuesday, there were indications that even the Committee Chairman did not know how many of the expatriates who made financial commitments at the event were to appear before them.

There are suggestions the expatriate business executives may not show up due to the political nature of the matter, and the effect it could have on their businesses going forward.

Background

The Ministry of Trade, supporters of the Awards, was alleged to have charged between $25,000 and $100,000, to enable expatriates to sit close to the President at the awards ceremony, which was organised by the Millennium Excellence Foundation.

The allegation was first made by the Minority Chief Whip, Muntaka Mubarak, in Parliament in December 2017.

Mr. Mubarak said the fees charged at the Ghana Expatriate Business Awards were not approved by Parliament, adding that the monies were also not accounted for in the Internally Generated Funds [IGF] of the Ministry’s accounts.

The issue was further reinforced by Mr Ablakwa, who suffered verbal assaults from Deputy Minister for Trade and Industry, Carlos Ahenkorah over the matter.

The Ministry of Trade and Industry initially dissociated itself from these allegations.

The Trade Ministry, in a statement, said it played no role in determining prices for seats at the event and clarified that it only facilitated the implementation of a new initiative by the Millennium Excellence Foundation.

But the Ministry after an order from the President to probe the matter clarified that an amount of GHc 2,667,215 was realized from the event.

The organizers of the Awards had also explained that no one paid to sit close to the President and that the amount was raised from sponsorship through a fundraising at the event.

Parliament subsequently formed a five member bi-partisan committee to investigate the matter.

Among the terms of reference of the Adhoc Committee include : to investigagte the alleged levy and collection of sums of money by the Ministry of Trade and Industry from expatriate businesses during the recently held Ghana Expatriate Business Awards event in Accra.

To inquire whether any payments were made and received and, if so, how disbursement was effected and whether any such disbursement offended any law.

To investigate any relevant related matters; and to recommend appropriate measures aimed at redressing violations, if any, that may have occurred and the prevention of any such violations; and report to Parliament on the 24th of January, 2018.

Source: Eugene K. Davis, The Business & Financial Times, 16 January 2018
Online: https://thebftonline.com/editors-pick/cash-for-seat-saga-expatriate-businesses-fail-to-show-up-at-committee-sitting/ 

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