Cash for Seat Probe: PARLIAMENT EXONERATES MOTI, MINISTER

Parliament has exonerated the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MOTI) and all other persons of wrong doing in the infamous cash for seat saga.

The Special committee tasked to investigate the alleged levy and collection of sums of money by MOTI from expatriate businesses during the Ghana Expatriate Awards presented its report to the House last week.

According to the report, the Special Committee, in its evaluation of the evidence adduced was unable to confirm that the Ministry imposed levies as captured in the motion that triggered the setting up of the committee and that there is no evidence to support such claims of imposition of levies.

Chairman of the Special Committee, Hon Kwasi Ameyaw-Cheremeh who presented the report to the House argued that the Committee was also unable to find that there was collection of levy and stressed that ‘collection’ as captured in the motion was a byproduct of levy in the same motion.

According to him, the committee could not independently threat the two terms as used in the motion and therefore concludes that if there was no levy imposed, then no levy was collected.

He indicated that there was, however, no controversy with respect to whether payments were made and received by the Ministry of Trade and Industry.

Hon. Cheremeh noted the Minister explained that as part of arrangements towards the hosting of the first ever Ghana Expatriate Business Awards (GEBA), the ministry entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Millennium Excellence Foundation (MBF), initiators of the awards scheme.

He noted that within the framework of the MoU, it was the exclusive responsibility of Millennium Excellence Foundation (MEF) to raise funds/sponsorship for the GEBA event.

“In addition to the fundraising responsibility of MEF, and pursuant to the principle of transparency and accountability, the MOU also enjoined MEF to deposit all funds raised in a dedicated MoTI account.”

The chairman indicated that from the evidence, the Ministry of Trade and Industry acted within the confines of Regulation 28 of FAR by issuing GCR in receipt of payments.

He argued that Regulation 56(2) recognises agreements for financial arrangements like the MoU between MOTI and MEF but the exact mechanism for managing a blend of funds arising out of partnership between government and a private entity remains a grey area.

The Committee, he said, acknowledged that in operating the accounts in respect of the funds lodged, the Ministry sought to act in the best interest of ensuring financial prudence and accountability while meeting the need of the specific purpose of facilitating timely access to the funds of the organisation of the GEBA.

The report indicated that contrary to claims that monies were extorted from expatriate business owners, none of the sponsors of the event alluded to compulsion, coercion, threat, pressure, duress, order, command, etc. to make payment towards the event and therefore the allegation of extortion is baseless and unsubstantiated.

According to the report, no credible evidence has led to establish extortion notwithstanding the very strong and vitriolic language purporting extortion on the part of the government by the accusers.

The chairman noted that the committee also found no evidence of involvement by the presidency and argued that mere mention of the president’s name in the organisation of the expatriate businesses excellence award is not proof the seat of government was connected to the event.

The committee, he said, had no reason to doubt the evidence of Ambassador Victor Gbeho relating to the information to the presidency and that merely informing government through the presidency is not evidence of involvement.

By Osumanu Al-Hassan/uthmanhass@gmail.com

 

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