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PAC chides Sports Authority boss over duties

BY: Emmanuel Bonney & Dickson Worlanyo Dotse, Parliament
Mustapha Ussif, Minister of Youth and Sports, answering questions at the committee sitting. Picture: ERNEST KODZI
Mustapha Ussif, Minister of Youth and Sports, answering questions at the committee sitting. Picture: ERNEST KODZI

The emotions and controversies surrounding sports transcended the field again yesterday when the Director-General of the National Sports Authority (NSA), Prof. Peter Twumasi, was taken to task over his handling of a number of issues at the NSA, including the poor handling of national stadia for social events.

Before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament sitting yesterday, Prof. Twumasi was drilled for what appeared to be he appearing before the committee unprepared when the Ministry of Youth and Sports and the agencies under it appeared before the committee.

First, the committee took a serious exception to Prof. Twumasi’s inability to furnish them with current documentation on a case involving the interdiction of a staff of the NSA when the same issue was dealt with last year.

The committee also expressed concern for what appeared to be a poor working relationship the DG has with his sector Minister and advised him to address same.

The committee, chaired by Dr James Klutse Avedzi, the Member of Parliament for Ketu North, was to consider the Report of the Auditor General on the Public Accounts of Ghana’s Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) for the year-ended December 31, 2022.

The Youth and Sports Ministry team had the sector Minister, Mustapha Ussif, other officials of the ministry as well as the DG of the NSA.

Social events at stadium

The committee expressed concern about how poorly national facilities, particularly, the stadia were maintained and wondered why it was so.

Answering a public interest question on whether revenues generated from non-sporting events at the Accra stadium for social events were sufficient to cater for damages, Prof. Peter Twumasi answered in the affirmative.

“Yes, what we generate helps to repair. For damage to the facility I think I would say it’s not really of a burden. The aspect of the revenue generation which is very positive for the running of the organisation, especially last year when you look at the budget approved for us for goods and services, we received only GHC287,000.

“So this internally-generated fund arrangement that we do are harmless to the infrastructure and it is a good way for the organisation to generate revenue,” he said.

When the Chairman of the committee asked a follow-up question as to whether he was considering the use of technology/carpet to cover the grass in order to protect the pitch, the Sports Minister Alhaji Ussif intervened by saying it was something that the ministry was considering and that he had engaged the DG several times on the issue.

“When you ask, they say the field is covered, but at the end of the day, you find out that the field is not covered and there is a damage.

“Since he gives the approval for the social event to take place, he has to give us assurance that if any social event is going to take place on the field, the field will be covered.

“If he can give assurance to the committee I would be grateful,” the Sports Minister submitted.

Safeguarding the pitch

Consequently, Prof. Twumasi assured the committee that the field would be covered anytime a social event was taking place.

When asked whether the NSA had materials for covering the field, he also responded in the affirmative.

“We do have the materials for covering, except that as my chief director indicated, there are better technologies that can cover and preserve better than what we have now,” he said.

He explained that the NSA used what it had, but when the chairperson put it to him that the field was not covered during the National Democratic Congress event last year, Prof. Twumasi said per the agreement, the setup was to be on the astro turf.

He was also reminded that the pitch was not covered when musician Shatta Wale held his programme at the venue last month.

Prof. Twumasi was, therefore, advised to take the issue of the protection of the pitch seriously in order to protect the grass.

Another issue that came up was why the NSA did not lodge the excess of GH¢ 299,677.02 internally-generated fund (IGF) into the non-tax revenue account since April 13, 2022 when it was formally directed do so.

Prof. Twumasi, in response, said the NSA was in the process of paying the money into the account.

At the time, he said the NSA’s releases from controller had not come.

The challenge, he said, was as a result of the “delay in the releases when at the same time the NSA was required to get all the facilities ready for the World Cup qualifiers”.

When the MP for South Dayi, Rockson-Nelson Dafeamekpor, asked whether the director general had a problem with his sector minister as a result of comments he made regarding the issue of access to funds, he said no.

“Personally I am not happy about what you just said because if there are issues like this you confer with your minister who is sitting right by you,” he said, adding that the “signal you are sending to Parliament and the whole country shows that you are not working well with your minister.

However, Prof. Twumasi, in reaction, maintained he had always been conferring with his minister as could be seen at the sitting when it came to the issue of answering questions.

Lodging

Commenting on why the NSA disbursed an amount of GH¢11,220 without lodging the money into the bank, Prof. Twumasi said that it happened in one of the NSAs directories in Koforidua.

He said when the NSA received the report, it wrote to the directorate for it to confirm the issue surrounding the money and that “it was confirmed to us recently and steps are being taken to pay back that amount”.

Interdicted staff

Responding to the issue of the prolonged interdiction of the officer in Kumasi, the DG of the NSA said that issue came up in 2018 in relation to the Number 12 investigative piece on Ghana football by Anas Amereyaw Anas which affected a number of persons, including his predecessor.

All of them, he said, were interdicted followed by an investigation directed by the President, adding that while some were exonerated, others were found culpable.

“This particular individual was part of those to be investigated and till date we have not received the report on him from the investigation,” he said.

Prof. Twumasi stated that a number of follow-ups at the police service also confirmed the investigations of the matter and he agreed with the Chairman of the PAC that the matter had been prolonged with the interdiction of the officer from June 2018 to the present.

The chairperson then strongly put it to him that virtually nothing was being done about the case and the committee. He, thus, tasked him to deal with the matter effectively once and for all and bring it to a conclusion.

Fisheries

When the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development and the agencies under it took their turn, the Head of Accounts of the Fisheries Commission, Eric Banoeyelle, said an amount of GH¢ 799,910.35 had been recovered by the commission, leaving an outstanding amount of GH¢ 566,914.10 with regard to levies paid to it.

This was in response to a question from a member of the committee, Kwesi Amoako-Attah, with regard to unaccounted import and export levies throughout 2019 amounting to GH¢1,359,825.00.

Mr Banoeyelle explained that the commission’s inability to recover the entire amount earlier was due to the decoupling of the commission from the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture which had left some documents unaccounted for.

Landing beaches levies

The sector Minister, Mavis Hawa Koomson, joined her team late but when she was given the chance, she appealed to the PAC to help the Commission find a more efficient way of collecting payments from the landing beaches before they were redistributed to the deserving communities since the collection had been a challenge.

The Chairman, in response, said that would be contained in its final report.