Dr Anthony Nsiah Asare (left), the Director General at the Ministry of Health with Kingsley Aboagye Gyedu Deputy Minister for Health and Dr Hafisa Zakaria
Officials of the Ghana Health Service (GHS) were unable to drag an auctioneer to face the Public Accounts Committee for allegedly bolting with an amount of GH¢34,625 belonging to the state, after auctioning some vehicles between 2011 and 2013.
Members of the committee, particularly the chairman, James Klutse Avedzi, were very upset that the officials could not bring the auctioneer before the committee to answer some nagging questions surrounding the auctioning process and his refusal to pay all the money realized from the sale of the vehicles to government chest.
A member of the committee and New Patriotic Party (NPP) Member of Parliament (MP) for Gomoa West, Alex Kojo Abban, therefore prompted the committee to use its powers to subpoena the witness immediately to assist the committee in its work.
Explaining the reason why officials of the service were not able to bring the witness before the Committee yesterday, the Director in-charge of Health Administration and Support Services, Kofi Opoku, said when the witness, one Felix Adoudjoe, who is the manager of Shelter Mart Auctioneering Company, was asked to come with officials of the GHS for the PAC public sitting, he told them that he was ‘out of the jurisdiction’ seeking medical attention.
“When we contacted him about this sitting, he told us that he was at a healing centre at Aflao in the Volta Region because he was not well and could therefore not be available,” Mr Opoku told the committee, who were not satisfied with the answer.
Following further questions on the absence of the auctioneer, officials of GHS were forced to place another call to him with the witness this time round assuring the committee that by Thursday, May 4, he would come back to Accra and face the members.
The director said the Ghana Police Service had been notified about the issue and had taken up the matter
Officials of the GHS themselves were also not spared by the committee members for holding on to about GH¢61,000 realized from the auction for well over three years – which should have been paid directly to the Non-Tax Revenue Account at the Bank of Ghana.
Realizing the danger and the embarrassment that beckoned them the officials quickly went and paid the said money into the account at the BoG.
It came up at the committee’s sitting that most of the vehicles and motorcycles auctioned by the Ghana Health Service were sold to the staff as in the case of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, while the auctioneers also benefitted from the allocations.
It was also revealed that fairly well-conditioned Isuzu Trooper vehicle was sold to a GHS employee at GH¢2,640 while a Mitsubishi Ambulance was also sold atGH¢350.
Another auctioneer, Jonas Acquah of Joo Mart, contracted by the GHS, was also found to have flouted the laws governing proper disposal of unserviceable government vehicles.
When a member of the committee and National Democratic Congress (NDC) MP for Ejura/Sekyedumase, Mohammed Bawah Braimah, asked the officials whether their transport department was effectively working and if it had maintenance schedule in place, the Director in-charge of Health Administration and Support Services said the transport department has a maintenance schedule in place but because of lack of adequate funds, maintaining all vehicles at regular intervals had become a problem to them.
Earlier, the ranking member of the committee who is also the Deputy Minister of Health, Kingsley Aboagye-Gyedu, was prevented from speaking at the committee sitting when he appeared with officials of GHS to respond to queries; the chairman said there could be a conflict of interest which the ranking member was not happy about.
By Thomas Fosu Jnr