Officials of the Ministry of Trade and Industry will later today [Friday], take their turn before Parliament’s Committee probing allegations that some expatriates were made to pay huge sums to have access to the President at the Ghana Expatriate Business Awards held in 2017.
The 5-Member Committee chaired by Majority Chief Whip, Kwasi Ameyaw-Cheremeh, commenced ts public hearings on Thursday receiving submissions of the Minority Chief Whip, Muntaka Mubarak, who first made the allegation, and North Tongu MP, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa.
Muntaka defended his allegation before the Committee, but told Citi News that he felt some of the Committee members sought to discredit him by their style of questioning.
Okudzeto Ablakwa also firmly justified his claims that indeed the Ministry extorted monies from the expatriates. He called for an independent audit of the accounts used by the organizers of the Ghana Expatriates Business Awards (GEBA) ceremony, which was held in December 2017.The Committee has up to the 24th of January to submit its report.
The Trade Ministry, which is at the Center of the allegations has on previous occasions denied any wrongdoing in the matter. However, they are expected to make their case formally known before the 5-member committee
A Member of the Committee and MP for Adenta, Yaw Buaben Asamoa, who speaks for the committee said it is unclear how many witnesses the Ministry will present to make their case.
The Minority Chief Whip, Muntaka Mubarak, first made the extortion allegation in Parliament in December 2017.
Mr. Mubarak said the fees charged at the Ghana Expatriate Business Awards (GEBA) 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 issue 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 and Industry initially dissociated itself from these allegations.
The Trade Ministry, in a statement 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 raised was gotten from sponsorship through a fundraising at the event.
By: Jonas Nyabor/citifmonline.com/Ghana