The Vice Chairman of Parliament’s Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee, Alexander Abban has described as unfortunate, the failure of the adhoc committee that investigated the alleged extortion of some expatriates in the country during the 2017 Ghana Expatriates Business Awards, to resolve its differences before presenting its report to Parliament.
The committee finally presented its report yesterday [Friday] February 2, 2017 after several postponements.
However, since the report was presented it has been revealed that it included only the input of the three members from the majority side on the committee, excluding the input of the Minority members.
A leaked report authored by the two other members from the Minority side appeared to indict the Trade Ministry and one of the organizers of the awards, Ashim Morton.
Speaking on Citi FM’s News analysis programme the Big Issue on Saturday, Mr. Abban who is also the NPP Member of Parliament for the Gomoa West constituency said all avenues should have been explored to prevent the discord in the Committee before the document was handed to Parliament.
“My problem is how they could not resolve this at the committee level so that if Dr. [Dominic] Ayine had a problem with the views of the majority, he could say that this is my view, could it be incorporated in this report so they present the whole report as one single report in conformity with the provisions of the standing orders. Then it comes as one report so we [Parliamentarians] deal with it. What he [Dr. Ayine] is presenting, is it a report or an opinion?”
The MP said the seeming double report contravenes Parliament’s Standing Orders.
“We don’t have anything like that in the standing orders. That is why I’m saying that nothing could have stopped him [Dr.Ayine] from giving his report to the committee so that it comes out as one composite committee report, all of us will read and see his views in that report then we will debate it,” Abban added.
Meanwhile, a member of the minority on the adhoc committee, Dr Dominic Ayine has called for the withdrawal of the already laid document so that a composite report will be presented to Parliament.
According to Dr. Ayine, though Minority members including himself and Deputy Minority Leader, James Klutse Avedzi had detailed their perspectives on the saga, the Majority side had refused to integrate them before presenting the document to the house.
“I was expecting the committee chairman to integrate the report I had prepared with what he had prepared but he stated that he would not integrate my report since it was titled ‘Minority report’,” Dr. Ayine stated on Eyewitness News.
Confusion rocks committee
Dr. Ayine had raised similar concerns on Thursday which, according to the Majority Leader in Parliament, Osei Kyei Mensah- Bonsu, led to the committee’s failure to present the report, despite having had its deadline pushed back twice already
The Majority Leader in Parliament, Osei Kyei Mensah-Bonsu had told Citi News on Thursday that the laying of the report had been postponed several times because Dr Ayine had wanted to present a separate report capturing the Minority’s conclusions on the matter.
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.
By: Godwin Akweiteh Allotey/citifmonline.com/Ghana