The Minister for Trade and Industry, Alan Kyerematen has dismissed allegations of extortion by his outfit in the recent infamous ‘cash for seat’ scandal.
According to him, a Memorandum of Understanding between the Ministry and the organizers of the Ghana Expatriate Business Awards (GEBA) clearly spelt out which party was responsible for soliciting for sponsorship and collection of monies for the awards ceremony.
“To article 14 preceding the definition of the responsibilities, which says that the MEF, that the foundation, will solicit all funds to hot the Durbar price event, from inception to hosting of the event and that all funds will be lodged into the MOTI [Ministry of Trade and Industry] account, till after the event is completed,” he said.
He also stated that he has ‘no doubt’ in his mind that there was clarity between the two parties [MOTI and MEF] in regards to the responsibility bestowed on them.
The allegation of extortion against expatriates at the awards ceremony 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 (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 was raised from sponsorship through a fundraising at the event.
Ablakwa, Muntaka face committee
The Minority Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa and Muntaka appeared before the committee in its first public sitting on Thursday to provide further details on why they called for the probe.
By: Farida Yusif/citifmonline.com/Ghana