Cash-for-seat committee ends sitting

Author: Mary Mensah
The Chairman of the committee, Mr Kwasi Ameyaw-Cheremeh (2nd left)
The Chairman of the committee, Mr Kwasi Ameyaw-Cheremeh (2nd left)

The Special Committee of Parliament probing the alleged sale of seats close to the President to expatriates has brought down the curtains on its sitting with the appearance before it of the Controller and Accountant-General, Mr Eugene Asante Ofosuhene.

He was summoned to brief the committee on the circumstances that led to the creation of an account for the Ministry of Trade and Industry for the collection of money during the Ghana Expatriate Business Awards (GEBA) event last year.

Mr Ofosuhene told the committee that the laid down procedure for the disbursement of government funds to metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies (MMDAs) was always through the Ghana Integrated Financial Management Information System (GIFMIX).

Consolidated fund

He said there was a Consolidated Fund in which all government funds were kept for disbursement to the MMDAs.

He said money accruing from the government’s dealings with its donors and development partners was put in the Consolidated Fund at the Bank of Ghana (BoG).

Mr Ofosuhene told the committee that there had not been a situation where the government and a private entity would manage funds together, as there were regulations which stated clearly how such funds should be handled.

He said the opening of an account by the Ministry of Trade and Industry with a private entity was against laid down rules and not advisable, as all money collected should be kept in government accounts.

Five-member committee

The five-member ad-hoc committee was set up to probe allegations of extortion from expatriates at the GEBA event held in December 2017.

The ministry has been accused of collecting moneyand levies to allow participants at the awards ceremony to sit close to the President at the event.

The committee began sitting on Thursday, January 11, 2018, with the two petitioners — Muntaka Mohammed Mubarak and Samuel Ablakwa — appearing before it.

Trade Ministry

On Friday January 12, the Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr Alan Kyerematen, appeared before the committee.

The President of the Millennium Excellence Foundation, Ashim Morton, and the Chairman of the foundation, Victor Gbeho, also took their turn at the committee sitting on Monday, January 15.

Members from the expatriate community who were the last batch of persons expected to appear before the committee to assist with investigations failed to do so, a situation which compelled the committee to suspend its sitting.