The Ghana National Gas Company (Ghana Gas) has described as deceptive and an attempt to mislead the public, a news story in the The General Telegraph newspaper.
The company has also accused the paper of attempting to whip-up sentiments against the it.
‘This is a mischievous piece of journalism. It is deceptive and meant to fuel an anti-Ghana Gas agenda at getting the Board and CEO removed. It is false to say the company blew Gh¢148, 000 on plane tickets for four people,’ Corporate Communications Manager, Mr. Alfred Ogbamey, said in an interview on Breeze FM Monday.
‘First and foremost, we are dealing with two separate trips at various times. Secondly, a minimum of six officials travelled on these two separate occasions. If you add the outward and return tickets, it comes up to about 20 trips. Find out the cost of a ticket to Dubai and do the breakdown and see whether the report was worth the paper it was written on,’ the head of communications at Ghana Gas noted.
Mr. Ogbamey acknowledged that Dr. Kwesi Botchwey, a former Finance Minister and Chairman of the Board of Ghana Gas, Dr. George Sipa-Adjah Yankey, a former Health Minister and CEO of the company, Messrs Eric Yankah, member of the Audit Committee of the Board and Amar Amarquaye, a consultant to the Board travelled on the trip.
But the Ghana Gas spokesperson pointed out that the newspaper deliberately deleted the names of Mr. Kassim Baluri Bukari, a former Director of Finance of Ghana Gas and Dr. Ben Asante, the Director of Technical Operations of Ghana Gas, to intentionally ‘reduce the number of persons who travelled on the trip.
‘They did that deliberately to also increase the amount per person per ticket to whip up sentiment against the company by making it appear as if the Board and CEO are engaged in some reckless dissipation of public funds.’
According to Mr. Ogbamey, the company’s officials did not go to Dubai on a shopping spree. ‘They travelled to Dubai to meet officials of the Chinese construction company undertaking the gas infrastructure project. The meeting was over issues of the project delay and was after Ghana Gas convinced SINOPEC officials to travel halfway from Beijing, where the meeting was originally scheduled to take place, to meet them in Dubai.
He said the trips were necessary to recover lost time after the Italian sub-contractor working for the SINPEC-led gas project offshore, demobilized and only remobilized to site after seven months, over delayed payments.
In the end, the delegation saved the company the extra cost of tickets to Beijing, China’, he pointed out.
He said the source of the story, per the report in question, did not even hide his motive.
‘The newspaper’s source was bold at least to indicate that he wanted the Board and the CEO changed. This is the agenda. And I think it would be better for him to speak to the appointing authorities than push incredulous stories into the media to suggest the CEO and Board members are violating directives by the Chief of Staff and the presidency’.
Subsequent to the two trips in issue and as a way of cutting down cost, the Ghana Gas official said its Board and management took measures to ensure that the Chinese officials travelled to Accra at their own cost for the next meeting on the project.
‘Since the meeting in January, no Board member has travelled on behalf of the company outside Ghana. The only exception is this past Saturday, when two Board members and two management staff of the company travelled to London. Guess what? They travelled on economy tickets as a result of the company’s own cost-cutting measures aimed at meeting the President’s directives’.
He said the CEO of the company has himself only travelled outside Ghana once since January. ‘He spends most of his time at the project site’, he said. ‘How can anyone say this company has engaged in profligacy, using this trip to Dubai as a case study?’
Mr. Ogbamey said he would not speak extensively on claims by the newspaper that he was unwilling to speak on the issues when reached.
According to him, there is enough evidence via text messaging that ‘l asked Bismark Bebli, Editor of The Telegraph, to hold on to the story for me to verify and respond to his queries. In the end, he chose to go public with the mischievous report fed him and he has to bear the consequences of the error of his judgement, not me.
‘I’ve never known him (Editor) to be a reckless and irresponsible journalist. I believe he was deliberately misled by the source who withheld some details from him. We all sometimes get it wrong but for him to have publicly admitted he got it wrong, is inspiring. I salute him on that despite my misgivings over his handling of the story’ the Ghana Gas official concluded, cutting short his response as a result of the admission by the Editor that he got aspects of the story wrong’.
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