The five-member Parliamentary Committee tasked to investigate the alleged extortion of monies from expatriates in the country during the 2017 Ghana Expatriates Business Awards, have had to suspend sitting today, [Tuesday], because none of the expatriates invited to testify before the committee showed up.
According to Chairman of the Committee, Kwasi Ameyaw Cheremeh, although they had written official letters to the expatriates to appear before them today, “none have shown up so we are unable to continue with the work of the committee for the day.”
[contextly_sidebar id=”vKtemfFDsD8iUrX0bbzAkgPW5Tbpjl9r”]“…So we adjourn and probably contact them again to appear before us at a later date to be determined by the Committee. We will give them that opportunity to appear before us,” he told the media who were present to cover the sitting.
The Committee, which has been sitting since last Thursday, is supposed to present its report to Parliament on January 24, 2018.
So far, the Minority Chief Whip, Mohammed Mubarak-Muntaka, North Tongu MP, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, Minister of Trade and Industry, Alan Kyeremateng as well as officials from the Millennium Excellence Foundation, organizers of the Ghana Expatriates Business Awards, have all appeared before the committee.
Prior to today’s hearing, Tuesday, there were indications that even the Committee Chairman did not know how many of the expatriates who made financial commitments at the event were to appear before them.
There are suggestions the expatriate business executives may not show up due to the political nature of the matter, and the effect it could have on their businesses going forward.
The Ministry of Trade, supporters of the Awards, was alleged to have charged between $25,000 and $100,000, to enable expatriates to sit close to the President at the awards ceremony, which was organised by the Millennium Excellence Foundation.
The allegation 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 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.
Parliament subsequently formed a five member bi-partisan committee to investigate the matter.
By: Godwin Akweiteh Allotey/citifmonline.com/Ghana