PAC Chairman Angry …Over Town Hall Meetings in Europe, US

Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament, the Hon. James Klutse Avedzi, last Monday blew up his top when a deputy minister expected to appear before his Committee was reported to be attending town hall meeting in France.

Deputy Minister for Information, Ama Dokua Asiamah Agyei, was expected to accompany the authority of the Ghana Publishing Company (GPC) to appear before the PAC on Monday to respond to the 2013 audited accounts of the agency.
However, when the entourage from the GPC appeared before the committee the deputy Minister was conspicuously missing and when her whereabouts was enquired the Committee was told she was attending a town hall meeting in France.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Ghana Publishing Company, David Asante, informed the members that the agency received notification to appear before the Public Accounts Committee to speak to the 2013 audited accounts of the corporation.
The letter, he said, also directed the agency to prepare a brief for the sector minister, which they did and were informed the Hon. Dokua Asiamah Agyei, who is also a Member of Parliament was going to be in charge.
He said, “Unfortunately, 48 hours before today all attempts to get in touch with her failed but I was informed she was on an official assignment in France.”
“It’s been difficult to get through to her to know what exactly the official duty was but I managed to establish contact with one of her PAs and he told me the deputy minister was out on an official assignment.”
The Chairman who was not enthused with explanation of the absence of the Minister indicated he had information all the deputy ministers from the Information Ministry were attending town hall meetings, which was confirmed by David Asante.
Hon. Klutse Avedzi could not hide his disgust at this information and retorted, “What is this town meeting that is being done outside Ghana? “Town hall meeting? Outside Ghana?”
“My parents in my village are not getting the opportunity to attend town hall meetings and you are carrying these meetings outside Ghana to the United States, United Kingdom and France? Why,” he queried?
The Ghana Medical and Dental Council also appeared before the Committee earlier without the sector Minister of Health and indicated they could not explain why the Minister or his deputies were absent though they duly informed the ministry.
A former deputy Minister of Health, Kingsley Aboagye Gyedu, however, proffered an explanation that the Health Minister, Kwaku Agyeman Manu, was on a retreat with the President and apologized on his behalf.
His explanation and apology did not go down well with the Committee Chairman who pointed out that what he was doing was not right.
He said, “Minister you know what you are doing is wrong. You have been a ranking member of this committee and I don’t think the answers or responses you are giving are proper.”
“We don’t do this as members of this committee to engage in such things. So what you are doing is unacceptable.”
Hon. Avedzi proposed that in future no Minister should be allowed on the Public Accounts Committee.
He said, “We don’t have the power to determine who sits on the Committee but the appropriate thing to do is not to allow any minister or deputy to sit on this committee if really we want to fight corruption.”

By Osumanu Al-Hassan/

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