The 5-member bipartisan adhoc committee tasked by Parliament to investigate the alleged collection of monies from some expatriates to allow them sit close to President Akufo-Addo during the 2017 Ghana Expatriates Business Awards ceremony, failed to submit its report today [Thursday] February 1, despite postponing its deadline twice already .
The latest challenge follows reports that, one of the Committee members on the Minority side, Dr. Dominic Ayine, had insisted that he wants to present the minority’s side of the report.
According to the Majority Leader, Osei Kyei Mensah-Bonsu, the report is being held back by Dr Ayine’s uncooperative stance.
He told Duke Opoku Mensah that members of the Committee had all agreed to conclude the report on Wednesday, and present it today [Thursday], but Dr. Ayine did not show up at the hotel where the meeting was supposed to take place, despite several assurances from him.
“Yesterday [Wednesday], they had planned to meet at 3 o’clock in the afternoon to conclude everything in order to be able to submit the report today [Thursday]. One of them was absent, Dr. Dominic Ayine unfortunately, for whatever reason couldn’t go. They called him and he said he will be there at 5:00pm but he couldn’t go. They called him and he said they should give him two hours more which was 7:00pm. 7:00pm they called him, his phones were off. It was not until 12 midnight that he sent words to them to respond to their earlier calls.”
Mensah-Bonsu said he was however taken aback when the Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu, informed him today that Dr. Ayine decided to present a supposed minority report on the investigations by the Committee.
“…This morning at the business meeting, my colleague the Minority Leader came to inform me that Dr. Ayine wants to write a minority report. That cannot delay. If you want to write a minority report why don’t you tell your colleagues? Clearly there is something amiss,” he said.
The Majority Leader, who also is the Member of Parliament for Suame and Minister of Parliamentary Affairs, said he subsequently urged the Committee members to resolve their differences before close of day, so that the report could be presented on Friday.
He however maintained that, the report, which is over 50 pages, will certainly be laid before the House on Friday, whiles the debate will be deferred to Tuesday, February 6, 2018.
“They [the committee] were going to lay the report, [but] I prevailed upon them to wait, so they could have a meeting. So eventually they agreed to have a meeting at 4:00pm. They should go and have that meeting, then tomorrow they will lay the document. The meeting is because of Dominic Ayine. So whatever he has, he should come and share with the committee, they will know how to handle it,” he added.
Background of “cash for seat” saga
The Ministry of Trade, which partnered the event organizers, Millennium Excellence Foundation, is alleged to have charged between $25,000 and $100,000, to enable expatriates to sit close to the President at the awards ceremony.
The allegation was first made by the Minority Chief Whip, Muntaka Mubarak in Parliament in December 2017.
Mr. Mubarak said the fees charged at the Ghana Expatriate Business Awards were not approved by Parliament, adding that the monies were also not accounted for in the Internally Generated Funds [IGF] of the Ministry’s accounts.
The allegation was further reinforced by Mr. Ablakwa, who suffered verbal assaults from Deputy Minister for Trade and Industry, Carlos Ahenkorah over the matter.
The Ministry of Trade said it played no role in determining prices for seats at the event, and clarified that it only facilitated the implementation of a new initiative by the Millennium Excellence Foundation.
But the Ministry after an order from the President to probe the matter clarified that an amount of GHc2, 667,215 was realized from the event. This was made known only after the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, had asked the Trade Minister Alan Kyerematen, to investigate the matter and report to him.
The organizers of the Awards had also explained that no one paid to sit close to the President, and that the amount was raised from sponsorship through a fundraising at the event.
Parliament subsequently formed a five-member bi-partisan committee to investigate the matter.
The Committee held several public hearings and a few in-camera sessions that featured all parties named in the allegation, and those who made the allegation.
The committee was supposed to present its report on January 24, 2018 but was subsequently given a one week extension which was supposed to have elapsed on Wednesday January 31, 2018, but failed to do so.
It was however expected to present the report today [Wednesday], but that did not also materialize.