‘Cash-for-seat’ C’ttee charged to meet January 24 deadline

of monies from expatriates during the 2017 Ghana Expatriates Business Awards, to ensure that they meet the deadline given to them by the House, and submit their report accordingly.

“As you know, our mandate of scrutinizing government business and holding public officials to account gained a lot of public interest till the ad-hoc committee was setup to investigate the alleged collection of various sums of monies from expatriates business during the Expatriates Business Awards in Accra. I suppose that substantial work has been done by the Committee to meet the deadline given by Mr. Speaker to enable the House consider the report during this week,” he added.

 

The Committee has a deadline of Wednesday, January 24, 2018, to present its findings to Parliament after it was set up on January 5, 2018.

 

The First Deputy Speaker made the call on Tuesday when he welcomed Members of Parliament to the House from their Christmas break.

 

Mr. Osei-Owusu is currently chairing sittings at Parliament because the Speaker of Parliament, Professor Aaron Mike Oquaye, is acting as the President due to the absence of both the President and the Vice President.

 

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 GHc 2,667,215 was realized from the event.

 

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.

 

Expatriates ‘swerve’ ‘cash-for-seats’ committee

 

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, have all appeared before the committee.

 

But at the last sitting on January 16, 2018, the five-member Committee  suspended sitting because none of the expatriates invited to testify before the committee showed up.

 

According to Chairman of the Committee, Kwasi Ameyaw Cheremeh, although they had written official letters to the expatriates to appear before them today, “none have shown up so we are unable to continue with the work of the committee for the day.”

 

“…So we adjourn and probably contact them again to appear before us at a later date to be determined by the Committee. We will give them that opportunity to appear before us,” he added.

 

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