General News of Thursday, 28 December 2017
The Majority in Parliament has dismissed the request by the Minority for an emergency sitting over the dreaded ‘expats extortion saga’ at the recent Ghana Expatriate Business Awards held in Accra.
According to the Majority leader Osei Kyei Mensah-Bonsu, who is also the Minister of Parliamentary Affairs, the Minority’s call is unnecessary, further noting that it will amount to the abuse of the House’s procedures.
“The question to ask is whether this request falls into that category. Is it a matter that has suddenly arisen? No. It has been with us. If it has been with us was any attempt made by any member of the Minority to request that maybe some oversight [should] be conducted in this case?
“Then, if the Speaker refuses to accept it and the matter is of urgency and parliament is requested to sit on the matter that could be acceptable.
Except that in this case no such request was made…and so it appears to me that in this case, it is an abuse of the processes,” he stated on Morning Starr Thursday, December 28, 2017.
Denial, Admission and Clearance
The awards ceremony generated massive controversy after it emerged that expats were asked to pay a whopping $100, 000 to sit by the President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.
After several denials by the Trade and Industry Ministry and demands for the monies to be refunded to the expatriates by the Minority in parliament, the chairman of the Millennium Excellence Foundation – organisers of the event – Victor Gbeho confirmed that expatriate businesses were charged monies to sit close to the president.
The Minister of Information Mustapha Hamid last week Thursday issued a statement stating that the Minister for Trade and Industry did nothing wrong.
In a subsequent statement, the Trade Minister Alan Kyerematen disclosed that following the event, the Ministry in collaboration with the event organizers have audited the account for the event and can confirm that an amount of Ghs2,667,215,00 was raised against an expenditure of Ghs2,367,426,06. It is acknowledged that the event organisers, as private sector commercial operators, are entitled to a fair return for their efforts in organizing the event.
The Trade Minister also stated that neither the President nor any official of the Presidency directly or indirectly, or even remotely was connected with the said event.
But the Minority insists the Speaker must summon the House for a special sitting to investigate circumstances leading to the monies charged questioning the presidency’s exoneration of the Trade and Industry Minister in connection with the matter.
“We are going to insist on parliamentary enquiry. Who audits the auditor? So the presidency think they can set their own questions and mark them and give themselves ‘A’? It is impossible. Parliament bi-partisan probe is going to come in. We are going to insist on it,” Minority spokesperson on Finance Cassiel Ato Forson told Starr News’ Parliamentary Correspondent Ibrahim Alhassan.
He said the committee should be expected early January.