The five-member bi-partisan parliamentary Committee probing the alleged collection of monies from expatriates to enable them sit close to the President during the 2017 Ghana Expatriates Business Awards ceremony, has ended its public sitting which sought to collect evidence from various individuals and institutions.
According to Spokesperson of the Committee, Yaw Buabeng Asamoah, the Committee will hold no further public hearings.
Speaking to Citi News’ Parliamentary Correspondent, Duke Mensah Opoku, Buabeng Asamoah, who is also the Member of Parliament for Adenta, indicated that they would work hard to meet their extended deadline of 31st January, 2018.
“Happily, the public sitting and all the sittings have come to an end; we appear to have collected sufficient information. The Committee will now go into the backroom, sit down and sift through the evidence and go to the business of report,” he added.
The Committee over the past few weeks has been probing the alleged payment of cash by the expatriate business community to sit close to the President at an Awards ceremony.
So far, the Minority Chief Whip, Mohammed Mubarak-Muntaka, North Tongu MP, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, Minister of Trade and Industry, Alan Kyeremateng as well as officials from the Millennium Excellence Foundation, organizers of the Ghana Expatriates Business Awards, and the Controller and Accountant General, have all appeared before the committee.
Committee’s timeline extended to January 31
The Committee had earlier been given a one-week extension after they requested for additional time which meant that they will now present the report to Parliament on January 31, 2018, instead of the original date of January 24.
Committee ‘secretly’ interrogates expatriates
The committee also secretly grilled some members of the expatriate community in-camera.
According to Citi News’ Duke Mensah Opoku, the expatriates appeared before the Committee on Tuesday, and were grilled for close to three hours.
Duke stated that the content of the interrogation was unknown, and may only be available when the Committee finally presents its report.
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.
By: Godwin Akweiteh Allotey/citifmonline.com/Ghana