Seth Terpker, Finance Minister
The Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning (MoFEP) says it cannot be held liable for any wrongful payment of compensation to victims of the Volta Basin Flooded Area.
‘The ministry would like to comment that we rely on the verification and processes done by the MDAs and statutory bodies that have been mandated to review the processes,’ Sarah Fafa Kpodo, a Senior State Attorney at the ministry told the Commission of Enquiry investigating the payment of judgement debts.
At the Commission’s sitting in Accra yesterday, Sole Commissioner Justice Yaw Apau asked the MoFEP to comment on a report by a professional group that was tasked to look into the Volta Basin resettlement programme.
The group investigated the entirety of the resettlement programme, including payment of compensation after the Akosombo Dam was constructed over the Volta River and areas including Pai, Apaso, Makango, Kete Krachi among others, were mentioned.
However, the MoFEP Attorney said ‘the ministry in its role does not approve of claims. What the ministry does is that they accept claims already approved either by sector ministries or the agencies.’
She continued that ‘in this case, it is the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, through the Land Valuation Division of the Lands Commission. If it is already approved at that stage, it is forwarded to the ministry for payment.’
She said, ‘We normally receive a verification report; and in this situation, we received one from the SFO spelling out that all the statutory provisions have been complied with.’
Ms Kpodo said there were three reports in all and two were dated August 2006 in respect of the Makongo and the Apaso flooded areas adding, ‘The one dated September 2006 is the investigation into the compensation claims which included the Pai flooded area. I believe to the best of my knowledge that the third report actually consolidated the previous reports.’
She maintained, ‘The ministry’s audit division has been mentioned in the report as not being diligent. With that issue, the auditor who worked on the documentation had been transferred and a new officer has taken over and is going through the processes to respond to the Commission’s questions.’
Ms Kpodo said the ministry was compiling data to respond appropriately to the Commission’s request for information on all issues concerning the Volta Development Act (Act 46) of 1967 under which the VRA operates, State Lands Act (Act 25) of 1962 under which the VRA acquired the lands, Article 267 of the 1992 Constitution which states the mode for which state lands are acquired.
She also promised the ministry’s commitment to help the Commission to unravel the payment of GH¢460,000 to the Worawora Chief as land compensation for the Volta River flooded area.
According to Ms Kpodo, she was not aware if the amount paid to the Worawora Chief was compensation for 3,000 acres of deluded land that had been seeded by the Pai Traditional Council to the Worawora Council.
It emerged at the Commission that the schedule attached to the payment of the first installment did not show any deduction of the 3,000 acres from the 99,000 acres credited to the Pai Traditional Council, resulting in double payment; and it is the contention of the Commission that it escaped audit scrutiny of MoFEP.
BY William Yaw Owusu
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