Cash For Seat Committee to present report Wednesday

After a thorough and live broadcasted probe, the cash-For-Seat Committee is expected to present its findings to Parliament tomorrow, Wednesday, January 21.

The Cash-For-Seat scandal as it has become known as, concerns the collection of money from Expatriate Businesses by the Trades Ministry and a private agency, Millennium Excellence Foundation for an awards ceremony.

The National Democratic Congress MPs led by the Minority Chief Whip, Mohammed Muntaka Mubarak, and MP for North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa are making claims of extortion against the Trades Ministry.

They have accused the Ministry of breaching provisions of the New Public Financial Management Act (PFMA), ACT 921 with the way it collected the funds.

This is what has gathered thus far.

On December 14, 2017, Minority Chief Whip, Muntaka Mubarak accused the Trade Ministry of charging expatriate businesses between $15,000 and $100,000 to sit by President Akufo-Addo at an awards ceremony organized by Millennium Excellence Foundation.

Mr. Speaker this is very worrying because so far as I’m concerned, the fees we approved in parliament did not say if you want to interact with the president you pay $100,000”, he said.

On December 17, 2017, a press statement from the Trade Ministry rubbished Muntaka’s claims referring to them as “baseless allegations”.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017, Deputy Trades Minister, Carlos Ahenkorah disrupted an interview of Mr. Ablakwa while the latter was briefing media personnel about the ‘scandal’. Mr. Ahenkra rained insults on Ablakwa and stated that Ablakwa had no moral right to criticize another on corruption.

On December 20, 2017, Mr. Ablakwa chided the Presidency on its silence on the issue challenging President Akufo-Addo to speak to the issue.

The same day, the press interceptd a query from the presidency, summoning Trades Minister Alan Kyerematen to come clear on what happened concerning the MEF awards.

The same day, December 20, MEF President Ashim Morton released Press statement to say that, “the president” referred to in the sponsorship package was he Mr. Morton and not the president of the Republic of Ghana.

December 21, 2017- Presidency cleared Ministry of wrongdoing, news broke that the Trades Minister Kyerematen had responded to President Akufo-Addo’s query and that the facts presented to the presidency prove no wrongdoing.

The Minority was not satisfied and declared its intention to push for a probe into the matter.

On December 27, 2017, the Minority, led by their Chief Whip Mr. Mubarak filed an motion for an emergency meeting of parliament [while the House was on recess] for a determination to be made on whether or not to probe into the matter.

On January 5, 2018, after a marathon sitting, the Speaker of Parliament, Prof. Mike Oquaye disregarded “procedural errors” on the motion and went ahead to constitute the 5-member committee to probe the Cash-For-Seat Saga.

The committee is headed by Kwasi Ameyaw-Kyeremeh.

January 11, 2018, the committee began sitting on the case, Minority MPs who filed and Seconded the motion, Muntaka and Ablakwa respectively appeared before the committee. Ablakwa rubbished the claims of MEF Prez that the president referred to in the sponsorship package was him.

Friday, January 12, 2018, Trades Minister, Alan Kyerematen appeared before the committee. He stated that 17 people sat on the same table with President Akufo-Addo and none of them paid the purported $100,000 alleged by Muntaka and Ablakwa.

“Mr. Chairman, for the avoidance of doubt, none of the persons mentioned made a contribution of $100,000 prior to the event,” he stated.

Monday, January 15, 2018, President of the Millennium Excellence Foundation, the organization that organized the awards appeared before the committee.

Ashim Morton maintained that the President in the package referred to him. He said Akufo-Addo was not scheduled to be at the programme but when it emerged that he [Akufo-Addo] will be present he [Morton] relinquished his seat for him [Akufo-Addo].

January 16, 2018, the Expatriate Businesses were scheduled to appear before the committee but they all failed to appear and the probe was suspended indefinitely.

January 24, 2018, it emerged that the committee had an in-camera meeting with the Expat businesses and they revealed that they were not coerced to pay any monies to sit close to Akufo-Addo.

Thursday, January 25, 2018, was the last day of sitting and the Controller and Accountant General appeared before the committee.

Mr. Asante Ofosuhene agreed he was in the know of the awards ceremony but denied any involvement in the process, stating that he was not part of the organization.

“I was not part of whatever happened at the Ministry of Trade and Industry,” Mr. Asante Ofosuhene said.

The committee is expected to, with all this information, present a report to the House, having determined whether there was any wrongdoing.



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