General News of Thursday, 21 December 2017
Minister of Trade and Industry, Alan Kwadwo Kyeramaten, has been ordered to explain allegations suggesting that some patrons of the Ghana Expatriate Business Awards were charged up to $100,000 to sit next to President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo at a dinner.
According to a directive given by President Akufo-Addo and communicated by the Director of Communications at Flagstaff House, Eugene Arhin, the minister had until 5pm yesterday to brief him (President) on the allegation of how his ministry facilitated the collection of the money from some expatriate businessmen and women.
This follows calls by National Democratic Congress (NDC) Members of Parliament (MPs) for the president to explain if it came to his attention that expatriates were charged between $15,000 and $100,000 to sit close to him at the awards event.
The event, which took place at the Movenpick Hotel on December 8, 2017, has become a topical issue, with the minority NDC members capitalising on it to attack functionaries of the NPP and government officials for taking advantage of the presidency to ‘milk’ innocent people and corporate bodies.
Owing to the development, deputy minister of trade and industry, Carlos Ahenkrah and MP for North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa engaged in a brawl in parliament a couple of days ago.
Director of Communications at the Flagstaff House has emphatically stated that the president had no idea that some persons were made to pay the monies to sit by his table at the awards, organised by the Millennium Excellence Awards in collaboration with the trade and industry ministry.
According to him, they only got to know about the allegation for the first time through the media, adding that President Akufo-Addo was unaware of any dinner event to be organised after the awards for those who purportedly paid the money.
He added that the president was unhappy about the development when his attention was drawn to it; and has subsequently ordered Mr Kyerematen to pen his statement on the allegation.
The Millennium Excellence Foundation (MEF) has rejected the allegation that it charged expatriates willing to sit next to the president as much as $100,000.
Speaking at a press conference yesterday, President of the Foundation, Ashim Morton, indicated that sitting arrangement at the event was determined by different categories of sponsorship – a practice he said is common in the event organising industry.
According to him, in the Ghana Expatriates Award, for instance, there were five levels of sponsorship made up of red, yellow, green, black and presidential circles.
He said the event also had the President’s Gold Table reserved for persons carefully selected by the Foundation and the Ministry of Trade, adding that the occupants of the table could be expatriate or Ghanaian, who did not have to sponsor the event to secure a seat there.
He categorically denied reports that people paid $100,000 to sit close to the president at the event, stating that the office of the president cannot be toyed with.
Although he admitted that they had a list of the sponsorship package, which included paying $100,000 to sit by the President’s Gold table, he added that none of the businessmen who sat on the table paid the money before the event.
Meanwhile, the Managing Director of Japan Motors Trading Company Ltd, Salem Kalmoni, who was at the event, has also stated that he did not pay a dime to sit at the said Gold Table with the president.