General News of Tuesday, 19 December 2017
There was a bust-up outside Parliament after deputy Trade minister Carlos Ahenkorah verbally assaulted opposition NDC MP Okudzeto Ablakwa following allegations the presidency is being used for profiteering.
Carlos, fuming over the corruption claim, called Okudzeto is a “liar” and a “thief” who has no moral right to accuse others of corruption.
It has emerged the Trade ministry collected from expatriates between $15,000 to $100,000 to sit close to the president, Nana Akufo-Addo at a dinner event, Ghana Expatriate Business Awards, to recognize the contributions of expatriates to Ghana’s economy.
Mr. Saeed Fakhri, CEO of Dream Reality and Inesfly also paid $100,000 to sit at the table with the President at the December 8 event held at the Movenpick Hotel in Accra
North Tongu NDC MP Okudzeto Ablakwa has called this “plain corruption”.
“You don’t use the office of the president to engage in profiteering…corruption has never been this clear”, he told Joseph Opoku Gakpo and condemned the Trade ministry for “desecrating” the presidency.
Not to be outdone, Tema West NPP MP charged that “if we talk about corruption, then we should point directly at Okudzeto Ablakwa”.
He referred to a 2012 incident in which an amount of 25,000 cedis went missing after Okudzeto, then a deputy minister, sent his car to a washing bay.
He wondered how the deputy minister came by that much money and left it in his car.
Speaking on Joy FM’s Top Story on the cash-to-get-closer-to-Akufo-Addo dinner, the deputy Trade minister explained that the event was organized in collaboration with Millennium Excellence Foundation led by leading NDC figure, Victor Gbeho.
The Trade ministry and the Foundation signed a Memorandum of Understanding and collaborated in getting the president who was “very interested” in the dinner event to attend.
He said the ministry’s role according to the MoU was to introduce the event to expatriates to sponsor and attend.
There were no taxpayer funds used for the dinner event, the deputy Trade minister said. However, host, Evans Mensah read an October 23 letter that showed the Trade ministry went beyond introducing the event to actually collecting monies from the expatriates.
The letter directed that interested expatriates were to direct their cheques to the accounts office of the Trade Ministry.
Carlos explained the letter was meant to boost the credibility of the event for expatriates who may be uncomfortable parting with cash to fund a program whose organizers are not well known.
“I don’t see it as anything wrong” Carlos Ahenkorah insisted. The Tema West MP said just as there are different categories of sponsorship like platinum and gold sponsors, the dinner also had a price to sit within the presidential circle and ministerial circle.
He also explained that “according to the MoU, the monies have been given to them[organisers]”.
Minority Chief Whip and NDC MP for Asawase Muntaka Mubarak who first raised the allegation in Parliament last Friday, vowed to push for a parliamentary probe.
“I am just shocked…I am convinced that there should be a parliamentary probe” he told Evans Mensah after listening to the deputy minister’s response.
“I have no doubt in my mind that something fishy is going on…after hearing him, I am convinced that I can convince my side to go for a probe”.
If anything, a probe can only be instituted next year because Parliament is expected to rise for the Christmas break after Friday.