Expats fail to show up at ‘cash for seat’ probe

Expatriate business owners scheduled to appear before the five-member Parliamentary ad-hoc Committee probing the now famous ‘Cash for seat’ scandal involving the Trade and Industry Ministry have failed to show up at yesterday’s sitting.

Consequently, the committee adjourned proceedings sine die (indefinite) after four days of public sitting.

After waiting for more than an hour yesterday, the Chairman of the Committee, Kwasi Ameyaw-Cheremeh, MP, Sunyani East and Majority Chief Whip said the committee could not wait any longer.

Mr. Ameyaw-Cheremeh made the declaration to adjourn sitting, which had always commenced at 10:00a.m. since the Committee began sitting last Thursday, at 11:30a.m.

It is not clear what might have caused the absence of the foreign business owners but Mr. Kyeremanten, appearing before the Committee on Friday, said the scandal could injure Ghana’s reputation and affect investor confidence.

Speaking in a further interview with journalists, the Spokesperson for the Committee, Yaw Buaben Asamoa, MP, Adenta, said the adjournment would allow the committee re-engage the expected witnesses in the expatriate community and fix a new day for their testimonies.

“As soon as a day convenient to the committee and to them [expatriate witnesses] is fixed, we will inform you,” he said.

Unable to tell what might have occasioned the adjournment he insisted that “we have good reason to adjourn.”

The committee, Mr. Asamoa said, would grant any witness who wished to be heard in-camera.

To him, the committee would have to absorb extra pressure to finish its work within schedule as it is expected to submit its report to Parliament on Wednesday, January 24.

“If the evidence is not all rounded up, it puts pressure on us but I can assure you that there is already work behind the scenes in terms of putting the report together,” he said adding that a request for extension “may be prudent.”

Some of the businesses have been mentioned extensively during the course of the the proceedings to have paid amid fears that their entities could be victimised.

The Committee was constituted by Parliament to probe allegations that expatriate business owners were charged between US$25,000 and US$100,000 to sit within a certain perimeter with President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo at the Ghana Expatriate Business Awards (GEBA), held in December.

Both the Trade and Industry Ministry and the Millennium Excellence Foundation, organisers of the GEBA, have denied any wrongdoing.

The Committee has been engaging witnesses since Thursday January 11, 2018 when it started its work with Alhaji Mohammed-Mubarak Muntaka, MP, Asawase and Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, MP, North Tongu, appearing before it.

Others to have testified before the Committee were Alan John Kwadwo Kyeremanten, Minister, Trade and Industry and officials of the Millennium Excellence Awards, organisers of the GEBA, Ambassador James Victor Gbeho and Arshin Morton.

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