Majority , Minority in ‘dogfight’ … over ‘cash for seat’ report

Prof. Mike Ocquaye,Speaker of Parliament.

Prof. Mike Ocquaye,Speaker of Parliament.

The Majority and Minority caucuses in Parliament are on a collision course over the work of the five-member ad-hoc committee constituted to probe the ‘cash for seat’ scandal.

This is because while the official committee laid its report in Parliament on Friday, the Minority members on the committee have also come out with another report claiming to be their version of the findings.

The report is due to be debated tomorrow when the House reconvenes.

Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, the Majority Leader, told journalists in Parliament on Thursday that the laying of the report had been delayed because the Minority reps on the committee wanted to present a separate report capturing the Minority’s conclusions on the matter.

Though it was eventually laid, Minority members said the report did not include their input hence the need for them to author a separate version.

Unclear what is contained in the report laid by the Chairman of the Committee Kwasi Ameyaw-Cheremeh, the Minority’s version of the findings has indicted the President of the Millennium Excellence Foundation (MEF), Ashim Morton, for forgery.

Speaker Aaron Mike Oquaye on January 5, 2018, constituted the committee to unravel allegations that the Trade Ministry collected or levied expatriate business owners between US$25,000 and US$100,000 to sit within a certain perimeter with President Akufo-Addo at the Ghana Expatriate Business awards (GEBA) in December.

Other members on the Committee from the Majority side of Parliament are Yaw Buaben Asamoa, Adenta and Dr. Mark Assibey Yeboah, New Juaben South.

Members from the Minority side of the House are James Klutse Avedzi, Ketu North and Dr. Dominic Ayine, Bolgatanga East legislators respectively.

According to the Minority’s report, championed by Dr. Ayine, Mr. Morton forged documents to cover up the fact that expatriate business owners paid monies to sit near President Akufo-Addo at the GEBA.

In the view of the two National Democratic Congress (NDC) lawmakers, the MEF also engaged in “deceitful practices” in the organisation of the GEBA.

The MEF, the two NDC lawmakers said “selected companies for awards even when the companies had not submitted information meeting the designed criteria and also forged documents meant to deceive the Committee and Parliament as a whole.”

On the Trade and Industry Ministry, which collaborated with MEF for the GEBA, the report said the Ministry contravened existing laws on public financial management and engaged in ethical violations.

The Ministry, the two-man report said, allowed its credibility to be used by a private non-profit organisation which “it cannot hold to public standards of accountability as well as by using the name of the President of the Republic as a means to…..amass profit.”

A probe into the organisation of the GEBA became apparent after two Members of Parliament, Mohammed-Mubarak Muntaka, Asawase, and Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, North Tongu, moved a motion to recall Parliament from recess to consider the motion.

At the committee’s public sitting, all witnesses including officials of the Trade and Industry Ministry, the Controller and Accountant-General and officials of the MEF have denied that the monies were paid to sit close to the President.

They maintained that business owners who paid the monies did so voluntarily to support the organisation of the awards ceremony.

BY JULIUS YAO PETETSI 

 

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