Cash for seat saga: Only 9 expats paid to share table with President –Trade Minister

Mr Alan Kyerematen,Minister of Trade and Industry

Mr Alan Kyerematen,Minister of Trade and Industry

Trade and Industry Minister, Alan John Kwadwo Kyerematen, has stated that only nine expatriate business owners paid to share a table with the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, at the now controversial Ghana Expatriate Business Awards (GEBA) ceremony, held in December in Accra.

 

Out of the 17 people at the high table, only one person paid the quoted sum of US$100,000 expected of persons who would sit at the Presidential table, he added.

 

Former President Jerry Rawlings and his wife, Mr. Kyeremanten and one of his Deputies, Carlos Ahenkora, were among other dignitaries at the high table.

 

Giving his evidence at the day-two sitting of the ad-hoc committee probing the now infamous ‘cash for seat’ scandal, Mr. Kyeremanten said, the only expatriate business owner who paid the US$100,000 did so a day after the award had been held.

 

Unable to disclose how much the remaining eight attendees paid, Mr. Kyeremanten said seven business owners honoured their financial obligations prior to the ceremony.

 

The GEBA has become a subject of Parliamentary investigation following a motion moved by Minority Chief Whip, Alhaji Mohamed-Mubarak Muntaka, arguing that the collection of monies from participants had breached sections of the Public Financial Management Act (PFMA) and the Financial Administration Regulations.

 

In a letter to the expatriate businesses signed by Mr. Ahenkora, persons who wished to sit within certain proximity to the President were supposed to pay between US$25,000 and US$100,000.

 

But at the sitting yesterday, Mr. Kyeremanten said there were as many as 17 people at the presidential table and that suggesting that all those at the table might have paid the US$100,000 was untrue.

 

According to him, a businessman, whose identity he failed to disclose , paid as little as GH¢13,000 to be at the presidential table.

 

Giving the Genesis of the award, Mr. Kyeremanten said his ministry was first contacted in June 2017 by the Millennium Excellence Foundation (MEF), organisers of the award, for endorsement.

 

He said a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was later agreed with the MEF with both parties given specific roles to ensure the programme went well to recognise the contribution of expatriate businesses to the economy of the country.

 

Whiles the Ministry was tasked with the responsibility as per the MoU to ensure the President and other senior ministers attended the awards, the MEF was to coordinate, design and solicit financial support from sponsors among other responsibilities.

 

He rejected allegations of extortion and any wrong doing because his outfit acted in accordance with the MoU.

 

Asked why a private firm was allowed to lodge proceeds into a public account and the government overseeing same for the private firm, Mr. Kyeremanten said that was allowed to ensure accountability because the sharing formula was 90 per cent and 10 per cent for the MEF and the government respectively.

 

The Trade and Industry Minister indicated that GH¢ 2, 667, 215 was raised at the end of the event of which 86 per cent has been disbursed to the MEF.

 

He rejected claims by the Minority that using government’s General Counterfoil Receipt qualify the money as public funds saying that assumption was misplaced and unfounded.

 

BY JULIUS YAO PETETSI

 

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