Parliament divided over EC chair’s answers on journalists accreditation money

General News of Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Source: Graphic.com.gh

2017-07-26

Chal6Parliament divided over EC chair’s answers on journalists accreditation money

Parliament was divided Wednesday when the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission (EC), Mrs Charlotte Osei, appeared before the House to answer questions related to money collected from journalists for accreditation cards for the coverage of the 2016 election as well as a replacement for lost voter’s identity cards (IDs).

While the Minority in Parliament led by its Leader, Mr Haruna Iddrusu, found her answers satisfactorily, the Majority in Parliament with its leader, Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, indicated that the answers were not satisfactory.

The question was posed by the MP for Subin, Mr Eugene Boakye Antwi, and after his follow-up questions, members from both sides of the House also had turns to ask questions.

The answer that generated a lot of interest and follow up questions was Mrs Osei’s explanation to the effect that the money collected from the printing of accreditation cards and replacement of voter’s ID cards in 2016 was not captured in the 2017 budget as internally generated fund due to an oversight.

One answer that did not satisfy many MPs was Mrs Osei’s answer to a question by Mr Kyei -Mensa-Bonsu that she was speaking for herself.

He wanted to know when she discovered that the money was sitting in the account and was not captured in the budget, she said she went for the bank statement to come and answer questions related to the replaced ID cards.

Mrs Osei said she was not the whole Commission and that there were other people working in some aspects, and so “I am speaking for myself.”

That response generated a lot of chorus in the House, and the Majority Leader said the answer was very informative.

When pressed further, Mrs Osei said she had not spoken to the directors in charge yet, and that she would speak to the issues only after she had spoken with them.

“I have not spoken to them yet. Unless I engage them I cannot give any other explanation.

“If you allow me, I will go back and speak to the technical people and get back to you”, she said.

Flanked by the First Deputy Speaker, Mr Joseph Osei-Owusu, to her right and the Deputy EC chairperson in charge of Operations, Alhaji Amadu Sulley, to her left, Mrs Osei said the money realised from the printing of the replacement of accreditation cards were not lodged into the Consolidated Fund.

She said the last time she checked, the money was still in the GCB Bank account opened for that purspose.

She said the money was intact as the EC could not spend it without the clearance by the Ministry of Finance.

Also present was a Commission member, Hajia Sahadatu Maiga, and Directors for Human Resources, Electoral Services and Communication.

Details of transactions

Mrs Osei said the EC had 4271 applications from interested houses for accreditation.

Out of that, the Commission charged GHc10 for each accreditation and that covered the actual cost of printing the card, the lamination, the provision of tags.

She said the printer charged GH¢8 exclusive of the Value Added Tax (VAT) and National Health Insurance Levy (NHIL).

“We charged GH¢10 because we had to cover the administration cost and VAT charges”, she said.

She said she had copies of the payment vouchers, the invoice from the printer, and the official receipts.

The EC Chairperson said there were also 273 journalists, technicians, political parties and candidates representatives and observers who were accredited without charge to cover the processes at the national collation centre.

Mrs Osei said in total, the EC collected GH¢42710 from the media houses and paid the printer GH¢42,713.

“In sum, we issued 4,544 cards because that include the 273 persons who were allowed into the national collation centre”, she said.

Replacement cost

Mrs Osei said the EC charged GH¢5 for each card that was replaced.

She said the Commission opened an account with the GCB Bank Boundary Road on Dec 27, 2016, and all money realised was lodged into that account.

She said for the duration of July 24, 2017, the EC had realised GH¢2,590,000.

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