Dr. Henry Kofi Wampah
Marked depletion of foreign assets reserves at the Bank of Ghana (BoG) in the election year of 2012, yesterday became a huge bone of contention at the resumed sitting of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament.
At the sitting to look into foreign exchange receipts and payments of the Bank for the half-year ending December 2012, the Governor of the BoG, Dr. Kofi Wampah and his two deputies, wrote to the Chairman of the Committee, Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, to excuse them (the bank’s officials) from appearing because they were all attending ‘a very important meeting.’
The Finance Minister, Seth Terkper and his deputies, who have direct oversight responsibility over the operations of the bank, were also said to be in ‘a serious meeting’ at the Flagstaff House and could therefore not turn up for the sitting.
Members of the Committee raised serious concerns about the reduction in the reserves from $5.83 billion to $5.28 billion – equivalent to $596.8 million – even though there were records of a rise in percentage of net receipts of 9.7 percent over the same period, ‘which means the total reserves should have seen a substantial increase.’
The issue was first raised by the Ranking Member of the Committee, Alhaji Ibrahim Dey Abubakari, who is also the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Member of Parliament for Salaga South, and other members, including the Chairman, Kwaku Agyeman-Manu; the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Member of Parliament for Bosomtwe, Simon Osei-Mensah; NPP MP for Ofoase/Ayirebi, David Oppon-Kusi; NPP MP for Bibiani-Anhwiaso-Bekwai, Kingsley Aboagye-Gyedu; NPP MP for Dome/Kwabenya, Adwoa Safo and NDC MP for Keta, Richard Quashigah. All sought to know what culminated in the decrease in the foreign assets reserves.
The Head of Treasury at the Bank of Ghana, Yaw Abalo, who represented the Governor, tried to dance around the question. When he was pinned further to the wall to furnish the committee with details of specific expenses from that amount, he said that the amount was used to pay government debts and also for the transaction of inter-bank markets.
The committee members were not satisfied at all with the answer given and pleaded with the chairman to adjourn the sitting so that the Governor of the Bank himself as well as the Finance Minister could be invited to provide tangible answers to the questions.
Mr. Kwaku Agyeman-Manu had no other option than to adjourn the sitting, indicating that members were not at all satisfied with the answers provided and that there were more probing questions that ought to be answered by the ‘right’ people.
The Minister of Finance was also represented at the sitting by the Internal Auditor at the Ministry, Annoh Kusi.
By Thomas Fosu Jnr
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