VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS AND THE OFFICIAL REPORT
Hon Members, correction of Votes and Proceedings of Friday, 2nd February, 2018. Page 1 - 10 --
Hon Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker, on page 9, the Hon First Deputy Speaker who presided was very emphatic with his directive when Hon Alexander Afenyo-Markin raised the issue about the continuous misspelling of his name. Mr Speaker, I thought that the records should capture the exact words of the Hon First Deputy Speaker. Mr Speaker, he was very emphatic with the directive that he gave -- not a normal correction. Mr Speaker, to quote him, he said that, this had gone on for four or five years and so the Hon First Deputy Speaker gave a certain consequential direction to the Table Office. Mr Speaker, I beg to submit.
Hon Leader, it would be corrected accordingly. Page 11, 12 … 15 --
Hon Deputy Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker, kindly permit me to bring you back to page 3 -- there was an oversight there. Mr Speaker, I was not in the Chamber on Friday because I had travelled with permission but I have been captured on page 3, item numbered 67 as present. Mr Speaker, so, the correction should be effected.
Thank you very much. It would be corrected accordingly. Pages 15 and 16 -- Hon Members, the Votes and Proceedings of Friday, 2nd February, 2018 as corrected is hereby adopted as the true record of proceedings. Hon Members, we have the Official Reports dated Friday, 8th December, 2017 and Monday, 11th December, 2017. Hon Members, any corrections?
[No correction was made to the Official Report of Friday, 8th December, 2017.]
[No correction was made to the Official Report of Monday, 11th December, 2017.]
Hon Members, we have a visit to Parliament by a delegation of the Saudi-Ghana Parliamentary Friendship Committee from the Shura Council from 5th to 7th February, 2018. The delegation comprises: H. E. Dr Ghazi Faisal Binzagr (Head of Delegation); H. E. Dr Abdullah Suliman Albalawi (Member); H. E. Dr Nuorah Abdurahman Yousef (Member); H. E. Dr Saud Leily Alrowaily (Member); Mr Abdullah Aseed Alghamdi (Protocol) and Mr Fahad Ali Alshahrani (Coordinator). Hon Members, on your behalf, I wish them a pleasant stay in the country and fruitful deliberations with their fellow Hon Members of Parliament. Item numbered 3 on the Order Paper -- Questions. Hon Minister for Transport? The Question stands in the name of the Hon Member for Mion?
Mr Speaker, I have permission from the Hon Member with your kind guidance and permission to ask the Question on his behalf.
ORAL ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS
MINISTRY OF TRANSPORT
Mr Speaker, the Ministry of Transport is aware that the DVLA carried out some recruitment exercises beginning two weeks before the conduct of the Presidential and General Elections respectively, from 24th November, 2016, to 31st December, 2016, that is after the conduct of the elections and when the results had been declared. Four hundred and forty-four (444) out of six hundred (600) applicants were shortlisted for the interview and in the end, one hundred and seventy-seven (177) of the applicants were engaged in late December, 2016. Just before 7th January, 2017, for six months' probation. One hundred and forty (140) applicants out of the one hundred and seventy-seven (177) accepted the offer of appointment. Mr Speaker, at the end of the probation period in June, 2017, the Authority could, however, not confirm the appointments of 84 applicants out of this number, due to its weak financial position at the time. The situation has, however, improved and the Authority has since reinstated 71 out of the 84 applicants as indicated below:
Thank you very much, Hon Minister. Hon Member?
Mr Speaker, have the 13 people who are yet to be reinstated been communicated to in terms of why they are unable to engage them at this particular moment?
Mr Speaker, as I said earlier after the probation period, we informed all of them that, the finances of the Authority was not good, and that when it improves, we would engage them. That is why we have started the reinstatement. They are very much aware, and we have given them our word that when we have a better financial position, they would be communicated to.
Mr Speaker, recruitment into the Public Service is based on the budget of the Ministry in terms of compensation. Now, the Hon Minister is talking about the financial position of the DVLA. Are they going to be paid from the budgetary allocation of compensation or from the Internal-Generated Fund (IGF) that they raise? What would be the mode of paying them their compensation?
Hon Member, you said “are they going to be paid”, where “they” means all others? For clarity, who are the “they”?
Mr Speaker, for clarity purposes, I was referring to the 13 staff who have been left out of the reinstatement. I asked that, based on his Answer whether their compensation would be from the IGF of the DVLA or votes from the Government of Ghana which are normally captured in the Budget.
Mr Speaker, DVLA pays its workers from their IGF and not from Government's votes.
Mr Speaker, I have no further questions. I thank you.
Mr Speaker, in the Hon Minister's Answer, he indicated that --
Hon Okudzeto Ablakwa?
I am most grateful, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, I would want to find out from the Hon Minister for Transport, in the first and second paragraphs of his Answer, I have a difficulty understanding him. He said in the first paragraph that, “at the end of the probation, that is, June, 2017, because of the weak financial position of the DVLA, they had to lay everybody off”. However, in the second paragraph, he said that and Mr Speaker, with your permission I quote: “Mr Speaker, at the end of the probation period in June, 2017, the Authority could, however, not confirm the appointments of 84 applications out of this number, due to its weak financial position at the time. The situation has, however, improved and the Authority has since reinstated 71 out of the 84 as indicated below:” Mr Speaker, in the same month June that he talks about the weak financial position for which they could not engage, they have in the same June/July recruited of 22 people. It is not clear to me. Could he clarify exactly what is going on?
Hon Minister, the Hon Member wants clarity.
Mr Speaker, what I said was that they were engaged for a six- month probation period. That is from December or from January to June, 2017 -- 84 of them. At the end of that period, the finances of the institution were not very good. So, DVLA then told them that they were not in a better financial position to engage all the 84 people. So what they did was that, in July, 2017, twenty-two (22) of them were recalled. In subsequent time, they recalled them as the finances improved and that is what I alluded to. Thank you very much, Mr Speaker.
Hon Armah Buah?
Mr Speaker, my name is not complete until you add the “Kofi” -- “Armah-Kofi”. Thank you, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, in the Hon Minister's Answer, he had indicated that a total of 71 employees had been reinstated. My question to him is: how many new employees have been given employment since the re-instatement of these 71 employees? [Interruption.] -- In 2017, how many new staff were employed?
Mr Speaker, to the best of my knowledge, those who were engaged between December and July were those people that we have tried to re- engage. I do not know if any other people have been employed.
Mr Speaker, appointment subject to probation is not determined by the financial condition of an organisation. Probation is the conduct of the appointee. Mr Speaker, where in the law, and under what circumstances, are they able to use financial consideration as grounds for refusing to engage somebody after the person has served a probation period? [Interruption.] Which law?
Order! Order! Hon Ayariga, there is a fundamental labour principle. The last to come is the first to go when finances are weak. Does that help? If the finances of the company are weak and some people have to be redundant even if temporarily, should we start from those who have been employed for 10 years or we start from those who came two months ago? Hon Ayariga, you may want to abandon this question, but if you insist, then the Hon Minister would answer. This is because that is the Labour Law. Last to come, first to go.
Is Mr Speaker, answering the question? [Laughter.]
No, we want to help. No, I have not overruled the question yet. I am waiting on Hon Ayariga. This is because we may want to instruct.
Mr Speaker, my understanding of the Hon Minister's response is that they decided to dispense with these people on the basis that their finances were not good. The question really is; where in this world have they ever seen that people on probation are not employed on the basis of the financial condition of the organisation? If somebody is on probation and they decide that the person has not lived up to his task, they can dispense with the person's employment based on performance, but they cannot refuse to employ the person on the basis of the organisation's finances. So, if the answer is that, based on finances, they had to dismiss them, then completely different legal consequences could arise.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Member, in asking the question, is being very argumentative. Mr Speaker, he is setting his own questions and is coming with his own marking scheme, answering the questions and then after, leaving the residue to the Hon Minister to answer.
“a Question shall not contain any arguments…” Mr Speaker, on the account of that, I invite you to rule that Question out of order.
Hon Minister, your position?
Mr Speaker, I may not be a lawyer as the Hon Member, but my understanding is that, an employment is a contractual agreement between the employee and the employer. So if I had given someone six months,' probation and I told the person that he should come and work for me and after that, based on the condition that he would fulfil his part and I would fulfil my part, I would engage him. I think it is fair, that at the end of the six months if I think that my financial position is not good enough for me to continue the engagement, I have to let him know. Mr Speaker, based on that, the DVLA told them that at that point, that the finances of the institution were not good enough to continue with the engagement, and they think that if it improves, they would engage them. Mr Speaker, from the analysis that I have given, it shows clearly that DVLA lived up to expectation, and when the finances of the institution got better, they started employing them. We could see that out of the 84 people, 71 of them had been re-engaged. So I can assure the Hon Member that he should not be too much worried about it. When the finances of the institution improve, the 13 people would be re-employed. Thank you very much, Mr Speaker.
Mr Speaker, my question to the Hon Minister is: were the people they had employed and put on probation paid probational salaries or regular salaries? If they were paid probational salaries, do we not think that sacking them on condition that they had no money to continue to pay them was exploitation?
Mr Speaker, the Hon Member, in positing this question, asks the Hon Minister whether he agrees with him or not. Clearly, he
Objection upheld. Leadership?
Mr Speaker, thank you for your indulgence. May I refer the Hon Minister to his own Answer, on page 7 of the Order Paper. Mr Speaker, with your leave, I quote; “…Four Hundred and forty-four (444) out of six hundred (600) applicants were shortlisted for interview and in the end one hundred and seventy-seven of the applicants were engaged…” Mr Speaker, does the Hon Minister not believe and accept that this was on the basis of the financial strength and muscle of the DVLA to accommodate the 177 applicants, that was why they proceeded with this activity out of the 144 applicants?
Mr Speaker, I am very much aware that the terms of engagement were stated in their letters of appointment within that six month period. Thank you very much.
Mr Speaker, I have just two more questions. The Hon Minister in the last line of his Answer, , and with your permission I quote: “I am hopeful that the remaining 13 staff would be re-instated as the Authority's finances improve''. Mr Speaker, is he not aware that the DVLA is in good financial standing, and therefore this cannot be an excuse per the Internally Generated Fund (IGF) approval that they have, and therefore, the Board - - not even in November -- in October, the Board initiated this exercise?
Mr Speaker, I do not know, but I am not aware of the basis on which the Hon Minority Leader is speaking.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister in his Answer made reference to presidential and general elections respectively. Mr Speaker, merit, other than politics, should determine recruitment into the Public Service. Does he agree?
Mr Speaker, I agree with the Hon Minority Leader perfectly on his assertion. My own view was just to try and state the period in which the transaction took place, and I think that they engaged them based on merit and not on political expediency.
Hon First Deputy Speaker?
Mr Speaker, I would want to know from the Hon Minister, is it not the case, that, in 2016, when the staff were engaged, they were on government payroll, and from 2017, DVLA was made to pay from its own resources?
Mr Speaker, that is precisely so. [Laughter.]
So, Hon Minority Leader, you could see that I was nearly prophetic by saying that their fortunes may have changed, and properly so. [Laughter.] Very well. Any further Questions from Leadership? Otherwise, Hon Minister, you are discharged. Thank you very much. Item numbered 6 on the Order Paper? I would vary the order of Business slightly and take this item because it is important. Motion -- Hon Chairman of the Committee?
Hon Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker, you are the Chair of this august House, and who am I to question your directive. But Mr Speaker, if you look at Standing Order 53, the Order of Business, one of it is as important as we are already infringing on a ruling of the Supreme Court, which has to do with laying of Papers in the matter of the Legal Profession (Professional and Post-Call Law Course) Regulations, 2017. I can understand how important it is, but Mr Speaker, normally, I thought the Hon Majority Leader would make an application for the order of business to be varied, but under the circumstances, this matter is compelling legally, and I do not think that would take too much time, including that of the National Identity Register (Amendment) Regulations, 2018, for which we were persuaded even to accept it to be laid on a Saturday, a non-working day. So, Mr Speaker, if it would not displease you, I would request per Standing Order 53, that we proceed with the business before you move to Motion numbered 6 on the Order Paper. It is an application I am making further to your directive. Mr Speaker, I so submit.
Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, I agree with the Hon Minority Leader that we could proceed on the lines of the business as set out on the Order Paper for today, especially given the fact that we are not going to spend much time on item numbered 5on the order Paper, but the issue about the variation of the business -- I raised this matter when I was on the other side of the House, and there is an empirical ruling from the Chair, that it is ultimately responsible for ensuring order in the House, so, the Chair could vary the Business of the House. Mr Speaker, I was the Hon Minority Leader at the time I raised the matter on many occasions but I was not heard. The ruling from the Chair was that, to the extent that the Chair was ultimately responsible for the maintenance of order, it could suo moto do that. Today, we are being told that, we should go back to the strict application of Standing Order 53. I held that position and I should be principled in supporting that position. Mr Speaker, this vaccination would not help to grow the House. [Interruption.] Change has come -- [Laughter] -- I am talking about consistency. [Laughter.] We should be consistent. Mr Speaker, I believe we could go by the schedule of Business.
The variation of the order of Business as per our rules rests with the Rt Hon Speaker, that is my discretion and I am exercising it accordingly in the way I have indicated. This is a matter regarding which Parliament was recalled from its well- deserved rest. When the matter comes before the House, it is a fit and proper matter that deserves variation for it to be taken accordingly. In fact, I would consider that it is the expectation of our countrymen and women and at this stage, I would say that, that issue should be taken at this stage. Hon Members, item listed 6 on the Order Paper -- Motion.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that, notwithstanding the provisions of Standing Order 80(1) which require that no Motion shall be debated until at least forty-eight hours have elapsed between the date on which notice of the Motion is given and the date on which the Motion is moved, the Motion for the adoption of the Report of the Special Committee tasked to investigate the levy and collection by the Ministry of Trade and Industry of the Ghana cedi equivalent of various sums of money in United States of America dollars, from expatriate businesses and related matters during the recently held Ghana Expatriate Business Awards in Accra may be moved today.
Hon Member, do you rise to second the Motion?
Who rises to second the Motion?
Mr Speaker, I rise to second the Motion.
Hon Members, this is a procedural Motion moved and seconded. Question put and Motion agreed to.
Yes, Hon Chairman of the Committee, you may move the Motion.
Hon Minority Leader, do I see you on your feet?
Yes, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, I was on my feet. May I refer you to Order 80 of the Standing Orders? With your permission, I beg to read: “Except as provided in paragraph (2) of this Order, no motion shall be debated until at least forty-eight hours have elapsed (this period not including days on which the House does not sit) after notice as prescribed in Order 78 (Notices of Motions) has been given.” Mr Speaker, this particular Paper of the Committee's Report was laid. Therefore, forty-eight hours have not elapsed. I am at a lost why we are in a hurry on a matter of such great public interest. [Laughter.] -- Therefore, I have a difficulty that we are suspending the Standing Orders on this matter, especially so that -- [Interruption.]
Mr Speaker, I got my copy of the Report only this morning -- [Interruption] -- and all Hon Members got their copies this morning, so why the rush? Why are they in a hurry? [Interruption.] Mr Speaker, a 146 page Report. In the interest of transparency and account- ability, this matter cannot be railroaded through Parliament. I am sorry, but if the Hon Chairman of the Committee wants to proceed, he knows our position. As I speak, I am reconciling it and many Hon Members would need to do a reconciliation. Mr Speaker, if you read -- [Interruption] -- I am raising my objections. When the Controller and the Accountant-General appeared before the Committee -- [Interruption] -- conspicuously lost in the Report is what he spoke about -- contravening laws and not following -- [Interruption] -- It is not in the Report.
Hon Members, order! You may continue.
Mr Speaker, Hon Member of the Committee from the Minority Side gave an indication that they are supposed to meet with the Hon Chairman at 4.00 p.m. to reconcile, but that has not been done. [Interruption.] So, under the circum- stance--
Hon Members, Order! Hon Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker, I am saying that the Report is voluminous.
Hon Minority Leader, please take your seat for the time being. I would not allow any unnecessary interruptions. Appropriate interventions would be allowed according to the rules. The Hon Minority Leader is on his feet raising an objection. I would be glad if all of us would listen and then the appropriate Hon Member would respond accordingly. This is a very important national matter and we would want to deal with it appropriately. Hon Minority Leader, you may continue.
Mr Speaker, thank you very much for the protection. I said that it was only this morning, that I, together with all Hon Members received copies of the Special Committee to investigate the levy and collection of sums of money from expatriate businesses and related matters to which Parliament asked a committee to investigate. Mr Speaker, thankfully the sitting of the Committee was public, so Ghanaians were carried through. Therefore, no attempt or effort to cover up in the matter would succeed anyway. [Hear! Hear!] This is because, the public was involved. Mr Speaker, I hold in my hands the verbatim Report of the Committee, a submission of the Controller and Accountant-General of Ghana. I am interested in improving systems and processes. Mr Speaker, a very lucid and successfull point that the Controller and Accountant- General made -- [Interruption] -- I am yet to find it in the Report [Interruption] - - It is very important. I need to read. Mr Speaker, I would need to read like any other Hon Member, to certify myself. Mr Speaker, therefore, this Report, as provided by the Hon Chairman is one- sided. I am sorry but Hon Members from the Minority Side of the House would be guided.
Mr Speaker, you may proceed with the Motion, but the Hon Members from the Minority side of the House would be unable to participate in this Motion, because it is one-sided and does not serve the public interest of transparency and accountability. It is one-sided, so the Minority would not partake of it. Hon Members on the Majority Side -- Away! Away!
Mr Speaker, a Motion has been moved, and it was a procedural Motion, that called on this House to stand aside with relevant provision of Standing Order 80 (1), to enable the House to consider the Motion on the approval and adoption of the Report of the Special Committee. Mr Speaker, I noticed that the Hon Minority Leader got up after the Motion has been moved, even before it was seconded. Mr Speaker, our Standing Orders provides in Standing Order 81, and with your indulgence I read, it says: “Unless otherwise provided in these Orders, every motion unless made at the Second Reading or Consideration Stage of a Bill, must be seconded, and if not seconded shall not be debated or entered in the Votes and Proceedings.” Mr Speaker, so, if a Motion, whether procedural or otherwise has been moved, it must be seconded. If it is not seconded, the Hon Minority Leader cannot rise up to challenge anything. Mr Speaker, I keep saying that the young indeed, must grow.
Mr Speaker, otherwise, this is simply procedural. A Motion has been moved, so, if one is not coming up with a counter Motion, one cannot get up to arrest the Motion that has been moved but has not been seconded. Any attempt to do that would be an exercise in futility. This is because, in that regard, there would not be anything before the House. Mr Speaker, therefore, the Motion has been moved but it has not been seconded, I heard the Hon Minority Leader say -- this is because already he had started to debate. Mr Speaker, the Committee was charged to consider the matter and report to this House on January 24th,, 2018, that is a day after the reconvening of Parliament. Mr Speaker, on the 24th of January 2018, when we met here, the Committee appealed to us that they were not ready, and that they would need additional days to deal with the job. Mr Speaker, Leadership conferred and granted them additional days to finish and submit the Report. Initially, we said we would give them a day more, but they appealed for two days, and so, we thought that it was going to happen on Friday, which is the very week that Parliament reconvened. They then came and appealed to us that they needed extra days, so we granted them up to Tuesday. Mr Speaker, on Tuesday, the same Committee came to us, led by the Hon Chairman to appeal for an additional day, which was last week Tuesday, and we granted them up to Wednesday to submit the Report. Mr Speaker, as our Standing Orders provide, the Committee met and came up with a draft Report. A draft Report would usually be engendered by the Hon Chairman of the Committee -- people do not even know that. Mr Speaker, this morning when we met in your conclave, we heard arguments that up till now, Hon Members of Parliament in Leadership do not even know that the burden is on the Committee Chairman to either write the Report of the Committee himself, or cause it to be written. Mr Speaker, that is the express provision of Standing Order 210. With your indulgence, I quote, and it says: “Any Member of a Committee may bring up a report for its considera- tion, and all such reports shall be fully entered in the minutes of proceedings of the Committee. When all the reports have been brought up, the Chairman shall propose the reports in order until one is accepted as a basis for discussion, beginning with his own report and proceeding …” Mr Speaker, that is supposed to be the Report of the Hon Chairman, and that is the express provision of our Standing Orders. People are not learning, and so, they come accusing the Hon Chairman, that he generated his own Report. Mr Speaker, people have been in this House for eight years and twelve years, yet they do not understand this basic provision in the Standing Orders. Mr Speaker, therefore, the Hon Chairman brings up a Report covering the proceedings, and he invites the Committee members to know if anybody has anything that would be added or would have to be deleted. The Hon Chairman then requests them to meet for them to consider same. Mr Speaker, Hon Avedzi had actually travelled outside the country, and he is a member of the Committee from the Minority Side. The Hon Dr Dominic Ayine was with them. They had considered everything together, but when it came to considering the draft Report generated by the Hon Chairman, he took the draft Report, and for two days, he went missing. Mr Speaker, the Committee went looking for him to come and share his thoughts, but he disappeared. They called him and sent him text messages, but he refused to respond. When he did, after twelve midnight on Wednesday, he got in touch only to tell them that his laptop had crushed -- cock and bull stories. Mr Speaker, after that, they asked why he did not even respond to their telephone calls, and he said that he had run out of battery and that the lights were off in his House. Mr Speaker, these are cock and bull stories. Clearly, they wanted to hold this House to ransom. That was why I said that, this House would not allow itself to be held ransom by a single individual, who decides to be very dishonest. We would not pander to this.
I will allow the Hon Chairman of the Committee to continue. Meanwhile, in the development of democracy and good governance of this country, I am compelled to make a few remarks. Allow me to make a few remarks and the Hon Chairman will continue. We have to work together to develop democracy in this country. It is tragic to note that, the mere variation of the order of Business, so that this very important national matter would be discussed and debated by this honourable House became an issue of challenge. Are we not interested in knowing the outcome of this matter? I trust Ghanaians would want to. Hon Members, the House was recalled from its well-deserved holiday because of this matter. On the day that we discussed this matter in this House, it was well pointed out by Hon Muntaka, in whose name the Motion stood, that there were serious irregularities, which of course were well founded. His very name, despite the fact that the introductory paragraph had said “We”, which of course then included him, his name was not there. In a court of competent jurisdiction, you will either be given the opportunity by a gracious judge to go and amend your incompetencies or the judge will strike it out. Hon Members, you would remember that I said, in the interest of the peace and stability of our nation, with a background to what men like Huntington had written, that there must be a calm atmosphere for the development of democracy and development generally. And that a praetorian society is one in which there is always dede, yie yie confusion. Therefore, we must be very careful how we act. I gave them two hours to correct and come back to this honourable House and some of these things must be spoken about and hansardised for the sake of posterity. After two hours, those who had been done a favour to just correct the procedurals, dot the “Is” and see to cross the “Ts”, decided not to oblige. Nevertheless, I said we must go on, listen and set up the Committee despite their disregard for the opportunity to make the relevant amendment. It must take a gracious judge in any court of competent jurisdiction that I have had the privilege to appear before. Despite the graciousness, it was not done. We nevertheless proceeded to ask for nominations in order to set up the Committee and it was given a very short time in the light of what was happening in the country and the comments that were going on , so that, we want all know the truth. Now, today has come and those who should help and be present so that we know what has happened do not want to. Nevertheless, we have a responsibility in the name of democracy to proceed. 1.07 p. m. - 1.37 p.m.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move that, this Honourable House adopts the Report of the Special Committee tasked to investigate the levy and collection by the Ministry of Trade and Industry of the Ghana cedi equivalent of various sums of money in United State of America dollars, from expatriate businesses and related matters during the recently held Ghana Expatriate Business Awards in Accra. In so doing, I present your Committee's Report. Introduction The Special Committee to investigate the levy and collection of sums of money by the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MoTI) from expatriate businesses and related matters during the recently held Ghana Expatriate Business Awards in Accra was established on Friday 5 th January, 2018, in accordance with Order 191 of the Standing Orders of the Parliament of Ghana (November 2000 Revised). References The Committee referred to, and was guided inter alia by the following documents: The 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana;
“Meeting of 23rd October 2017”. It was signed by my Hon Colleague, Mr Carlos Kingsley Ahenkorah. Mr Speaker, that document clearly states that these sums of money, ranging from US$15,000 to US$100,000, would have to be paid -- Mr Speaker, the sum had to be paid for attendees to have access to sit in “proximity to the President.” Hon Muntaka further opined that the allegation, to him, raised serious ethical issues if they were to be established and proven. On this he stated: “Mr Speaker, this is a very worrying situation. For me, if it is established and proven, it could be a very difficult ethical issue for us as a country. Mr Speaker, it is unethical to even imagine such a thing would happen. So, even if it is proven, it would be a very interesting one” The Hon Member referred the House to article 175 of the 1992 Constitution, the Public Financial Management Act, 2016 (Act 921) and the Financial Administration Regulations 2004 (L.I.1802). He referred specifically to Regulations 16 to 18 of L.I. 1802, and section 7 of Act 921 and maintained that: “If we look at the interpretation of “public resources”, it is beyond doubt that the monies that were collected by the Ministry form a part of our public resources”. Hon Muntaka further alleged that the issue was denied by the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MoTI) when it was first raised at the Parliamentary Committee on Trade, Industry, and Tourism and also on the 15th December, 2017, on the floor of Parliament. He further alleged that: “On the 17th of December, 2017 the Ministry issued a statement; paragraph 5 of that statement categorically stated that the Ministry of Trade and Industry had nothing to do with resource mobilisation.” He said there was, however, a subsequent interview on Joy FM with him and Hon. Carlos Ahenkorah in which the latter had made an admission that they collected monies but every pesewa from that money they collected was transferred to Millenion Excellence Foundation (MEF). Hon Muntaka further stated: “Mr Speaker, on 21st December, 2017 there was another statement from the Ministry of Trade and Industry that they did not have anything to do with resource mobilization. However, they moved from that denial to acceptance that they collected GH¢2.6 million and they spent GH¢2.3 million”. To him, the said statement of 21st December, 2017, had admitted that official receipts were issued for the monies collected and “once they issue official receipts, these become part of our public resources. So, in spending it, they had to go through the laid down structure for spending. Mr. Speaker, all these were not done.” According to the Hon. Member for the Asawase Constituency, he was most worried that the 21st December, 2017, Statement had said that the Presidency had nothing to do with what happened as he felt that position was inconsistent with a 17th December, 2017 Press release by the Ministry on the matter. He finally called for a public inquiry into the matter, saying: “necessary image”. He delivered himself thus: “Mr Speaker, in conclusion, let me say, it is important that these matters are properly investigated. This should be done in the public view to create the necessary image. Once again, Parliament has the biggest opportunity to prove to the people of this country that as a House, we would do what is right to establish, if there is any doubt, how finances are used in this country.” In seconding the Motion, the Hon Member of Parliament for North Tongu Constituency, Mr Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, thanked the Rt. Hon. Speaker for the opportunity to second the Motion and expressed the conviction that the matter was one which satisfied the requirements of the law for the establishment of a Committee to investigate it. He stated, inter alia, that:
Membership of the Committee The Committee comprised the following Honourable Members: i. Mr Kwasi Ameyaw-Cheremeh (Sunyani East) -- Chairman; ii. Dr. Mark Assibey-Yeboah (New Juaben South) -- Member; iii. Mr Yaw Buaben Asamoa (Adentan) -- Member; iv. Mr James Klutse Avedzi (Ketu North) -- Member ; v. Dr. Dominic Akuritinga Ayine (Bolgatanga East) -- Member. In addition to the Members, the Committee was privileged to have had the following Hon Members in attendance at its meetings: 1. Hon Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu -- MP for Suame Constituency; 2. Hon Moses Anim -- MP for Trobu Constituency; 3. Hon Ato Panford-- MP for Shama Constituency; 4. Hon Fuseini Issah-- MP for Okaikoi North Constituency; 5. Hon Collins Owusu Amankwah -- MP for Manhyia North Constituency; 6. Hon Alhassan Sayibu Suhuyini -- MP for Tamale North Constituency; 7. Hon Cassiel Ato Forson -- MP for Ajumako-Enyan-Esiam Constituency; 8. Hon Martin Oti Gyarko --MP for Techiman North Consti-tuency; 9.Hon Ras Mubarak -- MP for Kumbungu Constituency; 10. Hon Anthony Effah -- MP for As ikuma -O do be n-B ra kwa Constituency; 11.Hon. Evans Opoku Bobie -- MP for Asunafo North Consti- tuency; and 12. Hon Kwaku Asante-Boateng -- MP for Asante-Akim South Constituency. The Committee acknowledges all the Hon Members who made time to attend its sittings. In accordance with Order 198(1) of the Standing Orders of the House, the Clerk to Parliament appointed the following Officers to serve the Committee: i.Mrs Rosemary Arthur Sarkodie -- Clerk to the Special Committee ii.Mr Louis Boakye -- Assistant Clerk to the Special Committee. In addition, Mr Ernest Daffour -- An Assistant Clerk and officers from the Hansard Department were co-opted to assist the Secretariat in its duties. The Secretariat provided essential administrative, logistical and research support to the Committee and worked effectively in arranging and managing hearing sessions, preparing materials and drafting documents and reports for the consideration of the Committee. The Committee is grateful to the Clerk and her team for their invaluable service to the Committee. Terms of Reference The Terms of Reference (TORs) of the Special Committee were as follows: i.To investigate the alleged levy and collection of sums of money by the Ministry of Trade and Industry from expatriate businesses during the recently held Ghana Expatriate Business Awards event in Accra; ii.To inquire whether any payments were made and received and, if so, how disbursement was effected and whether any such disbursement offended any law; iii.To investigate any relevant related matters; and iv.To recommend appropriate measures aimed at redressing violations, if any, that may have occurred and the prevention of any such violations; and to report to Parliament on the 24th of January, 2018. Methodology Proceedings of the Committee The Committee held its first meeting on Monday, 8th January, 2018, to determine the modalities and procedures for regulating its deliberations and executing its mandate. The Committee was particularly mindful of Standing Order 197, which states among others, that: “The deliberations of the Committee shall be confined to the matter referred to it by the House and any extensions or limitations to it made by the House….” However, for transparency, openness, and integrity of the deliberations and processes, the Committee decided to hold all its sittings in public but reserved the right to take evidence in-camera should the circumstances and public interest so dictates. For purposes of its public sittings, the Committee identified the following key witnesses: i.Mover of the Motion -- Hon. Alhaji Mohammed-Mubarak Muntaka; ii. Seconder of the Motion -- Hon. Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa; iii. The Ministry of Trade and Industry; iv. The Millennium Excellence Foundation (MEF); v. Representatives of the Expatriate Businesses; and vi. The Controller and Accountant- General (CAGD). The Committee's sittings were generally held in public and were covered live on TV and Radio stations. However, at the request of the expariate business, the evidence of the representatives of the expatriate business was taken in-camera. Materials/evidence tendered before the Committee The Committee received documents from the various witnesses who appeared before it. The Committee also took oral evidence from the witnesses by examining
knowledge of the issue to the admission by Hon Ahenkorah that the Ministry indeed collected the money but returned every pesewa to the MEF. CW1 referred to paragraph 6 of the 21st December, 2017 Press Statement from the Ministry (Exhibit 2) as follows: “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 GH¢2,667,215.00 was raised against an expenditure of GH¢2,367,426.06. It is acknowledged that the event organizers, as private sector commercial operators are entitled to a fair return for their efforts in organizing the event. However, it was also agreed with the organizers that a portion of the additional funds realized from the event in excess of expenditure, would be retained to support the organization of the next Awards event.” 8. According to CW1, while in one breath the Ministry had nothing to do with resource mobilisation (as shown in Paragraph 5 of Exhibit 1), in another breath the Ministry acknowledged that it had even raised over GH¢2.6 million (as shown in paragraph 6 of Exhibit 2). 9. He referred to a letter the Ministry wrote to the expatriate businesses on 23rd October, 2017, entitled ‘Ghana Expatriate Business Award -- A Black Tie Event' (Exhibit 3) and read paragraph 6 on the second page as follows: “Kindly see the attached Criteria and submit your details by the 10th of November 2017 to Mr Kwadwo Boateng at the KPMG's Office, Abelemkpe in a sealed envelope.” 10. The CW1 also referred to the paragraph entitled ‘Corporate Partnership' which reads: “We invite you to support the organisation and hosting of this laudable initiative with the benefits attached.” 11. CW1 further referred to paragraph 3 of 21st December, 2017 Press Statement (Exhibit 2) as follows: “The structure, form, content and distribution of the Sponsorship package for the event are solely attributable to the event organizers, and the Ministry had no role in the design of the said package. For the avoidance of doubt, the letter signed by the Hon Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry which has been sighted in the media had no link to the sponsorship package.” 12. According to the CW1, contrary to the suggestion by MoTI that the letter signed by Hon Ahenkorah had no link to the sponsorship package, the same letter under the heading ‘Corporate Partnership', clearly made reference to an attachment where it indicates “with the benefits attached”. 13. According to him, although the Ministry had stated that the second attachment had no link with the letter signed by Hon Ahenkorah, the footnote of that attachment directs the individual expatriates where to send their cheques to in the Ministry, which enabled the Ministry to collect what they claimed was over GH¢2.6million. According to CW1, if the second attachment was not part of the letter, how did the expatriates know that they had to send their cheques to Room 308? Without that attachment, they would not have been able to send those cheques to Room 308 for the Ministry to even collect the moneys. 14. CW1 quoted paragraph 3 of Exhibit 1 as follows: “Upon the conception of the novel idea, the Foundation informed the Government, through the Presidency and further sought partnership with the Ministry of Trade and Industry in the organisation of the first ever award event targeted at recognizing and rewarding the contributions of the expatriate and naturalised expatriate community…” 15. The above statement shows that this novel event was started by the Government and the Presidency. Yet in the Statement that was issued on 21 st December, 2017, by the Ministry of Trade and Industry, paragraph 1 says: “Neither His Excellency, the President nor any official of the Presidency directly or indirectly, or even remotely was connected with the said event.” He contended that while in one statement, the whole idea started from the Presidency, in another the Presidency had no remotest connection with the event. 16. According to CW1, paragraph 7 of Exhibit 2 states: “For the avoidance of doubt, none of the individuals/companies who sat on the Presidential High Table at the event made a contribution of US$100,000.00 prior to the event as being alleged.” 17. Relying on an online news report of an interview granted by Mr Prince Boakye Boateng of MoTI on Star FM to Mr Francis Abban on Morning Star (Exhibit 4). Quoting from the online report, CW1 stated as follows: “The Government partnered the Foundation so that the private sector would know that the Government is in full support of the event. We wanted to make sure that moneys paid did not influence who won an award. The moneys were paid into the Ministry of Trade and Industry account because we did not want post-event challenges. Mr Saeed Fakeries (SIC), Chief Executive Officer of Dream Realty and Inesfly also paid US$100,000.00 to sit at the table with the President.” 18. According to CW1, while the Ministry in paragraph 7 of Exhibit 2, informed the public that no one paid US$100,000.00, the PRO who was a member of the Planning Committee stated that somebody had paid US$100,000.00. 19. According to CW1, if the Committee listened attentively to the voice recording that he had submitted, it would realise that both Mr Prince Boakye Boateng and Hon Ahenkorah, kept emphasising that they wanted the expatriates to trust and have confidence in MEF. 20. CW1 further informed the Committee that from the package, those who were to pay US$100,000.00 and US$75,000.00 were to have an exclusive dinner with His Excellency the President at a later date as stated in the sixth row of Exhibit 3. 21. CW1 stated that clearly, he doubts whether the Presidency was not aware of this arrangement. He explained that there was no way anybody could make such a promise if they had not made prior arrangements at the Presidency. All the statements from the Ministry confirms that they wanted to give the whole thing some kind of trust. He believes that all these were done to give the Ministry of Trade and Industry trust. 22. CW1 informed the Committee that he decided to give the Ministry of Trade and Industry the opportunity to clarify the issues raised since he had documentation and was very certain that moneys were collected even when there were denials. He indicated that all that he was seeking to achieve was to caution the Ministry. According to him if the statement that came from the Ministry on 21st December, 2017 was the response he got at the Committee's meeting, he would not have pursued the matter. It would have exonerated his position that moneys were collected. However, the issue would have been what authority the Ministry used in collecting that money. CW1 stated that he would have admonished the Ministry to make sure that they regularised how they collect such moneys and spend in accordance with the financial regulations. CW1 believes that the Ministry might have breached financial regulations. The Ministry collected the money with official receipt and later handed over all the money to MEF. According to him, using official receipt for the purposes of collecting the moneys makes it public money which was supposed to be regulated by financial regulations. 24. CW1 also doubted and questioned the total moneys that were collected as stated by the Ministry. He explained that if even 100 out of the 450 expatriates that were invited paid at least US$15,000.00, the total would be US$1.5million. By his rough estimation, if the Ministry stated they had taken only GH¢2.6million, he had doubts because of the initial challenges and credibility gap that had been created by the number of contradictory statements. 25. CW1 believed that it was important that Parliament independently looked into this matter, so that first, it would be certain that this unethical thing, where one would partner a private organisation to charge people or raise sponsorship based on proximity to the President, can be settled once and for all. Even if the Ministry claims they did not know about it, he believes that once they decided to partner them, they cannot exonerate themselves from whatever problem that may have arisen. 26. CW1 indicated that the laws of the country do not allow for this. Even the lobbyists in America and other places are regulated and they even pay taxes. When they do some of these things for charity, the total amount of money is transparently declared and it is not profit making. It is a good idea that the Government introduces a law that would regulate that. But for people to do it without the necessary regulations, he believes was very unethical. CW1 further stated that for the Ministry to collect moneys that were public moneys and hand it over to private persons was problematic. He believes that this investigation would give Parliament the opportunity to introduce reforms in this area. 27. As to whether the issue is basically a sale of access to the President or some kind of facilitation fees being paid to have access to the President, CW1 responded in the affirmative stating that all the documents he had in his possession point to that. 28. As to whether there was an ethical political concern in the matter, CW1 stated that as public servants like himself, His Excellency the President's time had already been bought by the public and that the public can have access without necessarily having to make any financial contribution or financial payment. To his mind, if access was used to facilitate and make it easy for anybody in this country to have a dinner with the President, then it is very unfortunate, stating that it can create an avenue for some kind of corruption. 29. As to whether he was aware that the President of the Republic requested for an explanation from CW3 on this matter, CW1 stated that he was not aware. He mentioned that what he heard was that the MoTI had been asked to respond after which the Presidency issued a statement to the effect that there was nothing wrong. He further indicated that he was worried since he did not know the kind of investigation was conducted by the President. According to him, the President had at his disposal the National Security, the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) and all the other Agencies that could be asked to thoroughly investigate the matter but within forty-eight hours, the Presidency said that there was nothing wrong with what MoTI did. 30. When asked whether as a Leader of the second branch of Government, there was a need to repose some trust in the Executive branch with respect to what they do regarding matters that are within the ambit of the powers of the President, CW1 agreed but stated that when there are doubts, Parliament, as representatives of the people with oversight responsibility over the Executive need to look into it; at least, to prove beyond reasonable doubt that, nothing untoward happened. He mentioned that as a result of the confusion, it would be very difficult for him to believe what the Executive arm has done. 31. When asked whether he agrees with the Ministry's claim that the event was organised with no cost to the taxpayer, CW1 disagreed and stated that although there was no direct contribution from MoTI, certainly he believed that the taxpayer incurred some cost. He explained that the officer who was responsible for collection of the money in Room 308 was paid by the taxpayer. Also, the Ministers and the President were driven to the event in vehicles fuelled and chauffeur-driven by persons who are paid by the taxpayer. He further indicated that the value book, the receipt that was issued, the General Counterfoil Receipt (GCR) from CAGD was printed with money from the taxpayer. 32. As to why the Motion for Recall of Parliament was not part of the document he supplied to the Committee, he mentioned that since the matter under discussion was a public interest matter referred to the Committee, he did not find it necessary to have attached the Motion to recall the House as part of the documentation to the Committee.
REPUBLIC OF GHANA, HIS
EXCELLENCY, NANA ADDO
A MEMORANDUM OF UNDER-
— The Motion he drafted and brought before the Rt. Hon. Speaker and submitted on the floor says “the levy and collection.” I would then take it that there was a “levy”.
Mr. Chairman, when I drafted this Motion, I had in mind the possibility of the Ministry saying that they have rights under the law to collect this. So, I wanted to encapsulate almost every possible thought. When I looked at the definition, the use of “levy” was generic. I would just give the meaning I saw in the Collins Dictionary. It said: ‘A levy is a sum of money that you have to pay'. So, it was for me to couch the Motion such that when I came to the Floor, I could possibly not miss anything…” To our mind and understanding, the Member did not know exactly what he was asking for when he used “levy” in the Motion and that is the more reason why he subsequently abandoned “levy” in his answers to questions from the Committee.
Mr Chairman, first, he gave us a definition of “levy” that it is a sum of money that has to be paid. My Wikipedia definition of “levy” is that it is a tax, fee or a fine. In the context of our Ghanaian legislation, we should have, for instance, the National Health Insurance Levy. So, in the context of our legislation, what is his understanding of levy as used in his Motion?
Mr Chairman, as I said earlier, my use of “levy” in my Motion was to make it broad enough to convey every possible area, so that in moving the Motion, I would not have been shot down…
“That is not the only terminology I used there. I also used ‘collection'. So, to be fair to me, I can say that all that I knew were collections. I said that to make my Motion broad enough, I decided to add ‘levy'.” Later on, CW1 said this in response to a question from the Committee: “… for the avoidance of doubt what happened was a collection, I had ‘collections' in my Motion”. “….I would repeat that I have not said anywhere that the Ministry has imposed levies. They do not have the power to do that. It is only Parliament that has the power to impose levies.” The position of CW1 when he says that the Ministry has no power to impose levies is no different from the view of the Honourable Minister for Trade and Industry. The Honourable Minister had said in an answer to a question that, the MoTI does not have the power to impose a levy, and so they did not impose any levy. In a follow-up question, the Hon.
Do you stand by your assertion that your Ministry did not impose any levy?
Mr Chairman, a levy is generally defined as an amount such as a tax, fee or fine imposed, charged, exacted and collected by compulsion or legal authority. As I have described early on, the sponsorship was voluntary contribution by individuals towards the organisation of the event. So the Ministry could not have imposed a levy because these were voluntary contributions and this is not the first time that events of this nature were being organised soliciting for sponsorship. So, this could not in any way be described as a levy. Mr Chairman, indeed, how is it that in the public domain, the allegations were originally described as extortion, in the Motion that was moved and on the basis of which this Special Committee was established, the description that is being provided is that, it was a levy. So where do we stand on this matter? Was it extortion” or a ‘levy'? In all humility, the exercise that was conducted was neither ‘extortion' nor the imposition of a levy. This view was reiterated by the Controller and Accountant-General when he appeared before the Committee.
In this said MoU, the responsibility of MEF was to raise funds and deposit those funds in a designated public account of MoTI.
That is right.
Does that make it a levy?
Not at all. It is not a levy. Even though CW1, the mover of the Motion abandoned the claim of imposition of levy, CW2 said among other things that: “we are not running away from anything we have said since this matter broke”. Yet, throughout his testimony, he did not adduce any evidence to support the allegation of levy having been imposed by MoTI. In our evaluation of the totality of the evidence adduced before the Committee, we are unable to find that the Ministry of Trade and Industry imposed levies as captured in the Motion. It seems to us that there is no evidence to support the claim of an imposition of levy by MoTI and we so find. Tied to “levy” was “collection”. It is our view that if the allegation of levy were to be sustained, then we could safely conclude that the said levy was collected. We are unable to find that there was collection of a levy. In our considered view, “collection” as captured in the Motion is a consequence or by-product of the levy in the same Motion. They cannot be independently treated. In the event, it is safe to conclude for the avoidance of doubt that if there was no levy imposed, then no levy was collected. 2. Whether or not Payments were made to and Received by the Ministry of Trade and Industry; and how disbursements were made There did not seem to be any controversy as to whether payments were made and received by the Ministry of Trade and Industry. The Honourable Minister for MoTI told the Committee that as part of the arrangement towards the hosting of the first ever Ghana Expatriate Business Awards (GEBA), MoTI entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Millennium Excellence Foundation (MEF), the initiators of the novel awards scheme. Within the framework of the MoU, it was the exclusive responsibility of MEF to raise funds/sponsorship for the GEBA event. This is how it is couched in clause 1.8 (i) of the MoU under the responsibilities of MEF: “Coordinate, design and solicit from sponsors nationwide, all the funding required for the successful hosting of the GEBA project.” In addition to the fundraising responsibility of MEF, and pursuant to the principle of transparency and account- ability, clause 1.8 (x) also enjoined MEF to: “Ensure that all funds raised is deposited in a designated MoTI account until the end of the GEBA Awards.” From these two (2) references from the MoU, it is not difficult to appreciate that MEF was to mobilise funds for the Awards event but that the monies raised should be paid into a designated account of MoTI. The Honourable Minister for MoTI in his Press statement dated 21st December, 2017 provided the rationale for the payment of the funds raised into a MoTI account in paragraph 4 as follows: “As part of arrangements towards the organisation of the event, the Ministry of Trade and Industry insisted that all monies raised in support of the event be paid into an Account held by the Ministry to ensure financial integrity and accountability which the organisers agreed to…”. The statement by the Honourable Minister was corroborated by the President and the Chairman of MEF respectively.
Whose idea was it to have an account in the Ministry?
Mr Chairman, it was the Hon. Minister for the Ministry of Trade and Industry.
What was the stated object?
…, obviously, it was to ensure transparency and accountability in all the funds we raised. …. And further to ensure the integrity of funds that were raised by us; that is what the Minister said”. Curiously, MEF would not agree to a suggestion from the Committee for a change in that arrangement. The President of MEF had this to say: “…I would want this to remain the same; the reason being that we do not believe that anything wrong was done. We believe that it was a process where, to ensure that there was transparency, which we wanted to achieve in the beginning, we should maintain the process where funds would go through the Ministry of Trade and Industry in future events purely because of transparency and account- ability…”. CW4, the Chairman of MEF had this to add: “Mr Chairman, with your permission, I would like the Committee to look at things from the perspective of the Foundation. We approached the Ministry of Trade and Industry to partner us in bringing to fruition this new concept that we had. It was in our interest to immediately agree to an account being opened in the Ministry of Trade and Industries (sic), so as to give our partner, the Ministry, the opportunity to monitor the receipts and disbursement of money in that account…”. Pursuant to this agreement or understanding between the MoTI and MEF, all funds raised by the MEF were paid into an existing Account of the MoTI at the National Investment Bank, Osu Branch. A summary table tendered in evidence by the Hon Minister and marked as MoTI 3 shows that total receipts of funds raised by MEF came to two million, six hundred and sixty seven thousand, two hundred and fifteen Ghana cedis (GH¢ 2,667,215.00). This has been cross-checked with the General Counterfoil Receipt (GCR) Book and the Bank Statement and there is consistency between the total figure in the GCR and MoTI 3. In all, there were twenty-five contributors to the GEBA event some of whom tendered in evidence photocopies of receipts received from the Ministry of Trade and Industry. The Committee can confirm that payments were made and same received and has no reason to doubt the accuracy of the summary table of receipts submitted by the Ministry. The only evidence received by the Committee which sought to suggest something to the contrary in terms of receipts came from CW1. He said in his evidence that: “… this is because if 450 expatriates that were invited, my rough estimation says that looking at the number of people that were there, I want to believe that some might have truly not paid, but if 100 paid the least amount of money, US$15,000.00, it is supposed to give us US$1,500.000.00. By my rough estimation, if the Ministry says they have taken only GH¢ 2,600,000.00, I have doubts because of the initial challenges and credibility gap that has been created by the number of contradictory statements,” Again, CW2 posited that: “… the information we are picking up about what transpired in that account is different from what has been presented here. So, Mr Chairman, for CW3 to state that following the event, the Ministry in collaboration with the event organisers have audited the account for the event and confirm that an amount of GH¢ 2.6million was raised against expenditure of GH¢ 2.3 million.” Mr Chairman, our view is that this is too incestuous…” The Chairman of the Committee intervened and requested CW2 to supply the Committee with the information he had picked up which runs counter to that of CW3 relating to how much was raised and disbursed. His response was:
Mr Chairman, you know that in our work as legislators, people would help us by offering us information and all of that. That is why I am not being conclusive at all. This is because we are still running our verifications or our checks. So, we are saying that all of this would have been settled if external auditors…
Yes, I agree with you that people feed us with information, but when one is not certain about the information, one does not put it out. This is because the damage one would cause to the Ministry cannot be repaired…. Somebody may be viewing you and listening to you -- the person may draw conclusion that even the Hon Member said before the Committee that what the Ministry has put out as monies realised and disbursed is not true, yet you do not have any information to the contrary. So please, we should beware about the way we put the information across.”
Mr Chairman, very much so. Mr Chairman, I would agree with you vehemently that, that was not my intention at all, and that was why I started by saying that we have not really verified. We get all kinds of leads. Sometimes, they prove to be true, and sometimes they may not be true…. The question is, what useful purpose does it serve when one is not sure of a fact yet one canvasses it forcefully before a fact finding Committee? The Committee was set up to find facts; it was not set up by Mr. Speaker to pander to speculative assumptions. The Committee, therefore, refuses the invitation by CW1 and CW2 to associate itself with their assumptive postulations as against the overwhelming documentary evidence put before the Committee by the partners (MoTI and MEF) and the participants (the Expatriate Businesses). This leads us to a discussion of disbursement from the MoTI Account. The MoU spelt out the modalities for the disbursement of funds from the Account. Clause 1.8 (xi) of the MoU on the responsibilities of MEF is very instructive. It provides as follows: “Submit request for payment from this account managed by MoTI for
You referred us to the definition of public resource from the PFM Act, 2016 (Act 921), page 68: We have spoken about sponsorship in Exhibit 2 that the Ministry says MEF raised a sponsorship. If that is true, where does it fall within this definition?
Mr Chairman, as I am very sure you know as an Hon Member of Parliament, when an Act is passed, there is a Regulation to give the meat and details of the Act. That was why I referred to the Financial Administration Regulations that expatiates the Act. I referred to 16 of the Regulation which explains in detail that anything that the Ministry does -- with your permission, I would read section 16 B: “Internally Generated Funds are nontax revenue that are generated through activities of the Department”. I strongly think that this is something they have collected through their activities.
Hon Muntaka, help us to proceed. I said that the claim -- so far, it is a claim -- by the Ministry was that, MEF raised money through sponsorship. If that were the case, which of the public resource items listed would cover that?
Mr Chairman, if you use the interpretation as on page 68 of the Act, we have “receivables”. If we use section 16 of the Financial Adminis- tration Regulation, it talks about the activities of the Department…” On the other hand, when asked to point to any of the revenue items to which the contributions to GEBA related, Mr Okudjeto Ablakwa (CW2) categorically stated that they were “donations”. It is instructive to note that the MoU between MoTI and MEF in clause 1.4 states “that the MEF will solicit all funds to host GEBA prize from inception to hosting of the event and that all the funds will be lodged in a MoTI account until after the event is completed.” The funds solicited by MEF were to fund the organisation and hosting of GEBA and so cannot be monies arising from the normal activities of the Ministry
That is true so let us go back to the GCR. Under what circumstance can it be used to collect private moneys?
Private moneys? It can never be used to collect private moneys -- private moneys for private account but it can be used to collect moneys that could go into public accounts or public funds.
If it cannot be used to collect private moneys --
Private money going into private account but not moneys going into the public account or public funds as it were. In this case, it was used in collecting money that was lodged into public account which is right The Controller and Accountant General cited instances where the Police makes a swoop and seizes money. They are not allowed to keep the money in their custody, rather as an agency of the Ministry of the interior, and since they must account for the money which is to be kept in the Consolidated Fund, they must of essence issue the GCR. A GCR Book was used because per the MoU, a dedicated Ministry bank account was being used for receipt of the money and in line with Regulations 28 of FAR which states: “(1) a collector who is satisfied that monies tendered are in order shall issue an original receipt to the payer and shall deal with the duplicate and triplicate copies as required by Departmental Accounting Instruction;” “(2) temporary receipts or receipts other than in the authorized form shall not be used for collection.” “(3) a person who issues a temporary receipt or unauthorized form for collection is in breach of financial discipline as defined in Regulation (1).” So, clearly, the Ministry acted within the confines of Regulation 28 of FAR by issuing the GCR in receipt of the payments. Furthermore, Regulation 56(2) appears to recognise agreements for financial arrangements like the MoU between MoTI and MEF. However, the Controller and Accountant General conceded that the exact mechanism for managing a blend of funds arising out of partnership between government and a private entity remains a grey area.
So, Mr Ofosuhene, if government enters into a public-private-partnership, funds thereof, how would they be classified? Would these be private funds or public funds?
Mr Chairman, depending upon the terms or whatever the fund that has been set up is to be used, if it is a public private partnership and they have their own MoU that they are setting up this programme and that the resources that would come, would be kept in an account designated, if revenue source, it would not be deemed as part of government funds. Dr Assibey-Yeboah Mr Ofosuhene, would you agree that this is a grey area? Because the law did not intend or the law is silent on how funds arising out of the public private partnership is treated. Mr Ofosuhene Admitted, I agree with you. There is no law for that matter that says moneys that accrue out of public private partnership dealings should be treated. If it is not a source of public funds, it would not be deemed a part of public funds. Then it would solely be a private business, or nowadays we call it covered entity. Then that is it. So if there is a PPP and they have generated their own resources, it should not be deemed as part of public funds.
Earlier, in an answer, you agreed -- there was a suggestion that was made to you by the Hon. Member for New Juaben South which you agreed that, the area that we are looking at, PPP is very grey. Mr Ofosuhene Mr Chairman, it is very very grey, (GREY) in capital letters.
In that case, you have told us that you are revising L.I. 1802 Mr Ofosuhene Yes, Mr. Chairman.
Would you consider some provisions in the L.I. that you are preparing to clean up?
Mr Chairman, we would do that. We are still in the process of working the FAR for the PFM Act. So, this is a point I actually would take up in the new Regulation. Consequently, the Committee acknowledges that in operating the accounts in respect of the fund lodged, the Ministry sought to act in the best interest of ensuring prudence and accountability whiles meeting the need of the specific purpose of facilitating timely access to the funds for the organisation of the GEBA. In the considered view of the Committee, the disbursement did not offend any law. 4. Related matters i. Whether or not there were extortion of moneys from Expatriate Businesses: A related issue that requires determination by the Committee is to ascertain if extortion was occasioned in the course of the organisation of the GEBA event. In the course of the hearing, CW2 (Mr. Ablakwa) in an answer to a question from a Member of the Committee as to whether the organisers and the Ministry extorted monies from the expatriates said: “…, it is my considered view that what happened amounts to some form of extortion. This is because what else can explain why a private organisation -- Millennium Excellence Foundation doing fund raising -- we have all been in the Ministries before…., what happens is that organisations apply for some collaborations of the sort -- some endorsement of an event that they would want to organise. We do not go this far to provide account numbers of our Ministries and tell the companies the officer and the
room -- in this case room 308, and tell the companies to go there and present their cheques. Why did they then do all of these, when they said it was the private organisation that came up with the idea? To me, looking at all these facts; clearly, somebody at the Ministry wanted the Expatriates to know that we are watching and we are going to know who has donated or not…. …. This is why I believe strongly that this was some form of extortion because the fact that you need to go and pay to a particular room at the Ministry in the full glare of the Ministers and officials would be watching and knowing who is paying and who has paid, would certainly put a certain compulsion on the expatriate businesses to go and donate (emphasis ours). And that is why I believe that this amounts to some form of extortion.” A member of the Committee defined extortion to mean “obtaining something especially money through force or threat” and asked CW2 (Mr. Ablakwa) if in his considered view government extorted monies from the expatriates. He replied that “extortion can also mean exorbitant amount. If you are collecting grossly --exorbitant amount, you are engaging also in extortion.” Throughout his evidence before the Committee, CW2 (Mr. Ablakwa) failed to demonstrate how exorbitant the contributions were. And if one were to match his earlier use of the expression “donate”, it is difficult to agree with his assertion of grossly exorbitant amounts and the mere fact that someone goes to an office in the Ministry to pay money amounts to extortion. This is very awkward. Additionally, it is incomprehensible to suggest that because an amount voluntarily contributed is huge or colossal that said contribution qualifies as extortion. In another breadth, CW2 admitted to the voluntary nature of the payment but that it had special antennas that checked who paid or did not pay. Whereas CW2 made strenuous efforts to establish extortion against the Ministry, the mover of the Motion, CW1 held a contrary view. Responding to series of questions from a Member of the Committee, Hon. Muntaka eventually yielded by saying that he had not used “extortion” anywhere. For clarity, we wish to set out the said questions and answers “in extenso” below:
Mr Chairman, has any of the participants officially or unofficially petitioned him of any extortion by the Ministry or the organisers before, during and after the event?
Mr Chairman, we are Hon Members of Parliament and we have citizens that trust us and offer to us information sometimes without they not --
I asked a specific question -- has any of the participants officially petitioned him?
Mr Chairman, I hope my Hon. Colleague would always let me finish. He could come up with a follow- up. I am ready to answer. We are Hon Members of Parliament and citizens have trust in us. They sometimes bring information, but they do not want to be known. Sometimes, they give us information and tell us that anytime we need clarifications, we should call their phone numbers. I do not think it is for me to -- because it is beyond doubt that monies were collected. I have been able to start with the Ministry's own statement. It is beyond doubt the organisation happened. So, as to who petitioned me or who raised the concern, it is for the Committee to find out when they invite others.
Hon Muntaka, answer the question. Did somebody petition you about extortion? Yes or no.
Mr Chairman, with the greatest of respect, confidentiality --
The question did not ask you to name anybody. Has anybody petitioned you about extortion relating to the event? Yes or no.
Mr Chairman, yes people were not happy about what happened.
So did they complain about extortion?
Mr Chairman, I have not used “extortion” anywhere. I would be happy for you to point to me where I have used “extortion”. I always said they have collected monies, and I think that the method and mode was unethical.
The question was, ‘has anybody petitioned you about extortion? So, you are to answer whether somebody has petitioned you about extortion.
Nobody has spoken to me about extortion, but people have spoken to me about how unhappy they were at the organisation. On the part of the Hon. Minister for MoTI, no expatriate had made a complaint of extortion to his knowledge. In his Press statement of 21st December, 2017, (MoTI 7), the Hon. Minister was very categorical about the fact that no extortion took place. “From the information available to the Ministry, there was no extortion or indication of extortion of monies from any expatriate business owner as being alleged. Indeed, no single individual has come out to make a claim of extortion.” We need to revisit the definition(s) of ‘extortion'. In addition to the two definitions proffered earlier by Dr Assibey-Yeboah and Mr. Ablakwa, the Hon Minister also alluded to the following definitions in an answer to a question by a member of the Committee:
Mr Chairman, my second question is that did the Ministry compel, force or terrorise anybody to pay money to the Ministry either by extortion, levy, collection or otherwise including doing so psychologically?
Mr Chairman, this question that he has posed is very important and critical. But in responding to the question, I would want to provide two definitions of the word “extortion.” One is the general definition and the other is a legal definition. The general definition of “extortion” is the practice of obtaining something, especially money through force or threat. The legal definition which is section 247 of the Criminal and Other Offences Act says: “A public officer is guilty of extortion who, under colour of his office, demands or obtains from any person, whether for public purpose or for himself
On your own volition, you decided to give GH¢ 15,000.00 to support the programme?
Mr Chairman, of late, we see a lot of government institutions and associations; when they organise these kinds of events, we make a little of the support. It is not in the blue moon that we have paid this amount. There are hundreds of examples that I can give to you. … So when these letters come like this, we do support them, honestly. Earlier, the Witness (Mr. Vasu) had said “I only gave them what I can afford, GH¢15,000.00 just to support the organisation of the programme.” When it came to the turn of Mr. Joe Mensah of Kosmos Energy Ghana, the following interaction took place.
It is in respect of the Ghana Expatriate Business Awards. Can you tell the Committee what you know about the Ghana Expatriate Business Awards, representing your company?
Mr Chairman, my company, Kosmos Energy, has always wanted to be a partner in terms of energising the country, therefore we have engaged in a lot of activities over the period, social responsibilities -- we have for example between the period 2012 and now spent about US$950,000.00 on water projects…. In the past years, we have done so for the Energy Ministry and the Agriculture Ministry; so when the Trade Ministry came asking us to support them, I was eager to participate and that was why I went through to help.
So how did they come asking for your assistance?
It was an invitation that came that the Expatriate Awards was going to take place. And they would like support from us. They had several tiers to support, and I chose a branch, which is about US$ 25,000.00 which I gave to the Ministry.” When asked if he had a copy of the invitation, he responded in the affirmative and went on to say that: “Most of the time when we get solicitation for support, the first thing we do is that we send a note to our Headquarters in Dallas, for them to go through the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). So we sent a copy of the letter and I stated the reasons I wanted to support it. Then I stated the level that I wanted to support, US$ 25,000.00 was bronze. It is all spelt out in my letter here.” The next witness to appear before the Committee was Mr. Stefano Ramella Pessa, the Managing Director of Consar Limited, a construction company operating in Ghana for the past thirty-five years. When quizzed as to whether he made a contribution to GEBA, he responded in the affirmative.
Did you make any contribution?
Yes, Mr. Chairman. I did a voluntary contribution of US$ 25,000.00 and I have a receipt here from the Ministry of Trade and Industry.” Again, the Witness related to the Committee that, he was invited among others for sponsorship for the World Cup about four years ago. He continued that he donated GH¢ 100.000.00 which was far more than his contribution to GEBA. The witness in a response to a question by Dr Ayine said they chose what they felt they must support the programme with.
My point is that, there was a sponsorship package that categorised the benefits and the amounts and you chose the lowest one.
There was another package which was even lower, which was US$ 15,000.00 but we thought we needed to support with the US$ 25,000.00" Mr Salem K. Kalmoni is the Managing Director of Japan Motors Trading Company Limited. He told the Committee they did not make any payments as of 4th December, 2017, but on the 5th December, 2017, they paid US$ 3000. Later, when he answered a question from Mr. Asamoa as to whether he felt pressured to pay the money, this is what he had to say: “We did not feel pressured to pay the money. We actually decided not to participate. I never felt pressured at all. We never cared about it.” The next witness to appear before the Committee was Mr. Mukesh Thakwani alias “Mike.” He is the Managing Director of B5 Plus Steel Company, manufacturers of steel products. The company contributed GH¢ 220,000.00 to the hosting of the GEBA event. When asked whether he was compelled to pay the two cheques amounting to GH¢ 220,000.00, he responded in the negative: “No Mr. Chairman, no one compelled us at any point or did anything like that.” Two other witnesses who appeared before the Committee -- Mr Amar Deep Singh Hari of IPMC and Ms. Roshi Motman, the CEO of Airtel/Tigo informed the Committee that they made no payment or contribution towards the organisation either before, during or after the Awards.
Mr. Saeed Fakhry, on the other hand, said he made a contribution after the event in appreciation of the good work done by the collaborating partners. Some of the Expatriate Companies who were invited to appear before the Committee but could not make it, wrote to excuse themselves. Some of these expatriate businesses volunteered to the Committee in their letters the information relating to the matter under discussion and their views are quite instructive. Mr. Theophilus T. Ayertey, Director of Human Resource of AMANDI wrote thus - “… However, we will like to confirm that we paid an amount of Sixty- Six Thousand Ghana Cedis Only (GH¢ 66,000.00) representing Fifteen Thousand US Dollars (US$ 15,000.00) which was acknowledged with a Ministry of Trade and Industries(sic) receipt number 14/ 0190508 of 20th November, 2017. We will like to state categorically that this amount was paid purely on our own volition devoid of any coercion or pressure from any Government of Ghana institution or official whether expressed or implied.” The MOHINANI Group through its Executive Director, Mr. Ashok Mohinani wrote to the Committee and said that: “… I would however like to make it known to the Select (sic) Committee that at no point did the organisers of the event levy, demand or attempt to extort money from the Mohinani Group of companies neither did we sponsor.” From SUNON ASOGLI POWER, Mr. Delali Amaglo, the Public Relations officer wrote; “in relation to the subject matter however, I can confirm a volunteered donation towards the organisation of the event, without any coercion whatsoever from any person or establishment.” The M&K (Ghana) Limited also put the following across through its Managing Director, Mr. Karl Nasr -- “when we were approached by the organisers, we were impressed by the fact that it was the first time of its kind to recognise and reward the contributions of the Expatriate Community to the Ghanaian economy, hence our involvement. Consequently, we paid the sum of Twenty-Five Thousand US Dollars (US$25,000.00) for a table of ten (10) for our managers to attend….” Mr Henry Oroh, the Managing Director/CEO of ZENITH BANK (GHANA) LIMITED, said in their letter to the Committee: “however, with respect to your request for information on the above subject, I would like to assure you that Zenith Bank voluntarily supported the Ghana Expatriate Business Awards without duress or compulsion from anyone or institution.” Mr Francis Sam, the Group General Manager of MELCOM GHANA wrote on behalf of the company; “however, we would like to state that we were in receipt of two (2) complimentary tickets to the event and voluntarily sponsored a table for some of our Senior Management and guests to support the function.” The Managing Director of AVIANCE,
“… I would like to categorically state that although Aviance Ghana made a small voluntary donation to ensure the event's success at no time was Aviance Ghana ordered to pay money to any institution or person.” It is instructive to note that MEF was not left out in this discussion. Ambassador Victor Gbeho in his evidence before the Committee said among other things that: “The Millennium Excellence Foundation did not coerce or levy any person or institution to come out with sums of money that would enable them to sit next to the Head of State. The Foundation found voluntary sponsors to support the first class event that was held….” The sum total of evidence on extortion is quite revealing. None of the sponsors of the event alluded to compulsion, coercion, threat, pressure, duress, order, command, et cetera. to make a payment towards the event. The reasonable conclusion that any reasonable man can make out of the totality of the evidence adduced before the Committee and communications received from a cross section of the Expatriate Businesses, is that the allegation of extortion is baseless, unsupported, unfounded and unsubstantiated. It is trite knowledge that he who asserts must prove by leading evidence to support his/her claim. Mr Ablakwa (CW2), was unable to lead any credible evidence of extortion, notwithstanding the very strong and vitriolic language purporting extortion on the part of the government in a Press release dated 18th December, 2017 titled: “Stop Desecrating the Office of the President and Refund Extorted Amounts to the Expatriates” (Exhibit OK8). (ii) Whether or not the Presidency was involved in GEBA and Other Matters. A number of issues need resolution or determination here. During the hearing, the name of the President of the Republic and the Office of the Presidency was invoked a number of times for various reasons. CW1 and CW2 contended that the use of “President” in the sponsorship/ benefits package and also in the 23rd October, 2017, letter (Exhibit 3) showed that the President or the Presidency was involved in GEBA. CW1 and CW2 submitted that there were inconsistencies/contradictions between paragraph 1 of the 21st December, 2017, Press statement by CW3 and the 17th December, 2017, statement. They both quoted the relevant paragraphs which we reproduce below: “I wish to state categorically as follows: 1. Neither His Excellency, the President nor any official of the Presidency directly or indirectly or even remotely was connected with the said event. The President was invited as a Special Guest of Honour and he graciously accepted the invitation and attended the event.” This is the quotation from the 21st December, 2017 Press statement issued by CW3. It must be underscored that what
REPUBLIC OF GHANA, HIS
EXCELLENCY NANA ADDO
Hon Minister, you said in this letter, and I quote: I wish to state categorically as follows: 1. Neither His Excellency, the President nor any official of the Presidency directly or indirectly, or even remotely was connected with the said event. The President was invited as a Special Guest of Honour and he graciously accepted the invitation and attended the event… Hon Minister, I am therefore asking you whether you still stand by this statement.
Mr Chairman, I stand by the statement.
All right. So, can we go back to your Hon Deputy Minister's letter of October 23rd, 2017? I believe that -- [Interruption.] Hon Minister, let us go back to exhibit labelled as MoTI 5.
All right, Mr Chairman.
Hon Minister, paragraph 3 of MOTI 5 reads: “Upon the conception of the novel idea, the Foundation informed the government, through the Presidency and further sought partnership with the Ministry of Trade and Industry in the organisation…” Hon Minister, this was the Press release of December 16th 2017, but by December 21st 2017, you denied that the President or the Presidency had any knowledge of this event. Hon Minister, is that correct?
Mr Chairman, respectfully, I do not see any inconsistency between these two statements. Why do I say so? Mr Chairman, he is referring to the fact that the Foundation informed the government through the Presidency. This was an information. Mr Chairman, he again refers us to a subsequent Press statement in which I have accepted and I confirmed that His Excellency the President or the Presidency was not directly or indirectly or even remotely connected to the said event. Mr Chairman, if we inform the Presidency, then do we suggest that by mere information, the Presidency becomes connected to the organisation of the event? Mr Chairman, respectfully, that is where I do not see the inconsistency.
Hon Minister, therefore, what was the purpose of the information to the Presidency and was that in writing?
Mr Chairman, it is very clear in the statement that is being referred to, which you have quoted. It says, and I quote: “Upon the conception of the novel idea, the Foundation informed the government through the Presidency…” Mr Chairman, it therefore lies in the belly of the Foundation to describe the nature of the information; but on the face of the record, it is very clear. You said we informed the Presidency, and I am also saying that the information does not necessarily mean that the President was connected with the organisation of the event.
You have told this Committee that you paid a courtesy call on the President of the Republic -- was it a call specifically about the awards?
Mr Chairman, I am afraid not. The Foundation has a track record of calling on each and every Head of State, since it was founded to convey first of all, its greetings to that Head of State, and secondly, to give the Head of State an idea of what the Foundation has in the immediate future. So, we went to see His Excellency the President not too long after he had been installed and had a discussion with him during which we briefed him on what we have or what we had done up to that point and also, what we intended to do in the next few months. It was at that stage that he showed interest, but wished us well in other words that it was our duty to bring that idea into fruition.
Ambassador Gbeho, did you go back to His Excellency the President of the Republic to ask for help in organising this event after the courtesy call?
No, we did not. This piece of evidence corroborates the evidence of CW3 that the Presidency was merely informed by MEF during a courtesy call. We have no reason to disbelieve the account of CW4 (Ambassador Gbeho). We are fortified in this belief by the testimonial given by CW2 regarding CW4. He said among other things that: “Mr Chairman, to further compound this confusion also, we have brought to your attention an interview granted the media by the Chairman of the Millennium Excellence Foundation and that is the document with the picture of the venerable and highly respected Victor Gbeho.” We agree to the attribute(s) accorded CW4 by CW2. Accordingly, we have no reason to doubt his evidence relating to the information to the Presidency. We are unable to subscribe to the view that the phrase “upon the conception of the novel idea, MEF informed the government, through the Presidency…” meant that the President or the Presidency was involved or connected with the organisation of the event. Consequently, we find that there is no inconsistency between paragraphs 3 and 1of the 16th December, 2017 and the 21st December, 2017, statements respectively, CW1 and CW2 took issues with the reference to the name of the President of the Republic in the 23rd October, 2017 letter. Within the context of the MoU, it was the responsibility of the Minister of Trade and Industry to ensure that the President of the Republic of Ghana together with other Senior Ministers of State were present during the hosting of the GEBA (see clause 1.5 of the MoU). In the spirit of this provision, it can be said that the Minister was carrying out one of his responsibilities under the MoU. Assuming without admitting, that the view of CW1 and CW2, were properly anchored, would the argument be stretched to mean that whenever there is a social event be it national, local or private, for example, festivals and funerals of prominent persons where His Excellency the President name is used then we could conclude that any fund raising activity that goes on would be at the behest of the President? As the first gentleman of the land, the President's name often appears as the headline personality, in many official and quasi-official events. Could that be construed as the President organizing the events or financial arrangement associated with those events be laid at the doorstep of the President? In the context of the analogy, the argument by CW1 (Alhaji Muntaka) and CW2 (Mr Ablakwa) that mere use of the name of a President or the Presidency in a letter inviting people to the GEBA event or the attendance of the President at the event or the notification of the President of the impending event amounted to involvement of the President in the event is not sound. The acceptance of the argument of CW1 and CW2 which means that the President cannot perform any social functions beyond the immediate confines of his office. Another issue or question that needs to be looked into is the allegation that seats at the event were sold for cash or to the highest bidder to enable them have access to the President. CW1 stated among other things that “…if you look at the package, those who were to pay US$100,000.00 and US$75,000.00 were to have an exclusive dinner with His Excellency the President at a later date.” He further stated that an “attachment” to Exhibit3 confirmed this. He wondered how anybody could promise an “exclusive private dinner for two (2) with the President at a selected date” if no prior arrangement at the Presidency had been made. He doubted if the Presidency could say they did not know about this. In responding to questions posed by Dr Ayine, CW1 agreed to a suggestion that the arrangement was a sale of access to the President.
…Hon. Muntaka, you seem to come as saying that this is basically a sale of access to the President. Some kind of facilitation fees being paid to have access to the President. Is that your view?
Yes, Mr. Chairman. This is because all the documents that I have in my possession point to that.
Very well. The document that we refer to as Exhibit1 had attached to it certain benefits that accrued to those who were able to pay depending on the amount. Now, do
Mr Chairman, we need to be concerned if persons would have to pay money so that they can have an exclusive dinner with our President. What would they discuss at that dinner? We need to be concerned at a time that all of us think we need to fight corruption. We do not create the avenue for those things to happen. This is because, if we say we want to create an exclusive dinner with the President and for that matter one has to pay this whooping sum - how would anybody want to pay that sum just to go and have an exclusive dinner if not for a possible discussion about how, maybe, they can have undue advantage in conducting their businesses? Of course, it should be a matter of concern for any well-meaning citizen of this country if, indeed the GEBA event was used as a means of providing access to the President. CW1 (Alhaji Muntaka) in the course of responding to questions posed to him by the Chairman of the Committee admitted that he did not have all the facts relating to the allegations he was making: Chairman: First, do you maintain that people paid to sit by the President?
Mr. Chairman, I thought that it is now beyond doubt. Even the Ministry has accepted that they have taken GH¢2.6million. It means that people paid to be in that hall. The audio I gave to the Committee was on Starr FM, which is Exhibit 4, also emphatically admitted that some of the people around the table with the President paid US$100,000.00 equivalent in cedis. So I think that it is beyond doubt.
Following from what you have just said that some of the people who sat around the President paid money but others did not pay, does it mean people paid to sit by the President?
Mr Chairman, it is your Committee that would establish whether everybody around the table paid or only some paid. I am only saying that, at least, from what I have heard, one person paid US$100,000.00. If we look at the sum of money collected, the Ministry itself, in its own statement said GH¢2.6million. It means that several people paid. So, it is for the Committee to establish how many people paid, who paid and where they were seated. If, for example, there was denial that it did not happen and now there is admittance through the Ministry's own statement that people paid moneys, I believe there is no doubt about payment. It is as to how many -- you would remember that in one of my submissions, I said that out of 450 expatriates that were invited, even if 100 paid, how much did they pay? I believe that would unearth how many paid, where they were seated and establish all the facts. This is because if I had all the facts, I would have put it before Parliament. That was why I called on Parliament to form this Committee which Parliament graciously did. It is for the Committee to establish that. We wanted to get all the facts because the facts were coming in pieces and in a contradictory manner.
So, you do not have all the facts. I would want you to confirm that you do not have all the facts.
Mr Chairman, I have submitted what I have. If I leave here and in the next minute I get any additional things, I would surely submit them to you.
I asked a question relating to your answer that if you have all the facts -- so you do not have all the facts.
I do not have all the facts.” It beats the Committee's imagination as to why an Honourable Member of Parliament who does not have the full facts about a particular matter would first, go to town and make scathing allegations to the effect that “access fee” was taken to enable people have access to the President. What was the motive? This is a witness who had some few moments ago emphatically stated that, he thought the matter was beyond doubt when he was asked whether he was maintaining his position that “people paid to sit by the President.” The contradiction in the evidence of CW1 (Alhaji Muntaka) is so monumental that, the same stands discredited. We are, therefore, unable to put any probative value on it. We hereby, discount it accordingly. Propaganda has no place in a fact finding mission especially, when one is giving evidence on oath. CW2 (Mr. Ablakwa) also held the view that people paid to have access to the President. In an answer to the Chairman of the Committee, CW2 said: “Mr Chairman, clearly, people were paying on the assumption that when they paid US$100,000.00 and US$75,000.00 they would get to sit at the President's Gold Table and they are guaranteed an exclusive dinner with the President at a later date. As to whether that private dinner had been arranged or if the event organizers were just pulling a fast one so that people would pay but they did not intend to keep their side of the bargain, I cannot tell.” Reference has been made to the payment of US$100,000.00 and US$75,000.00 to buttress the above point. Whereas the Hon. Minister (CW3) has said that he cautioned the organizers not to place people on the Presidential High (Gold) Table based on how much one had paid, the President of MEF denies the allegation of selling access to the President. He also reiterated that as at the time of the event, no individual or company had made a contribution of US$100,000.00. Only one company contributed US$75,000.00 before the event. That company or its representative was not even on the Presidential Gold Table. There were other expatriate business owners who sat at the Presidential Gold Table but did not make any contribution. The Managing Director of Japan Motors informed the Committee that he paid as low as US$3,000.00 (GH¢13,000.00), whiles the Chief Executive Officer of Airtel/
So, you sat at the High Table?
But from the account you have given, the original intention was not for you to sit at the High Table?
Did you make any contribution for the organization?
Yes Sir, During the ceremony, I received the top award and one of my companies, Interplast also won an award so I was very happy and pleased with this and it was donated after the dinner.
How much did you pay Sir?
Hundred Thousand cedis or dollars?
US dollars Mr Saeed Fakhry said that he would disagree with anyone who would suggest that he paid the one hundred thousand US dollars (US$100,000.00) to have access to the President. According to him, he has a long standing relationship with the President of the Republic and he did not need to pay to access him.
Do you know the President of Ghana?
Yes, I have known him for many years. In fact, his father was a friend of my father and was a legal advisor to my late father and later on the President, fifty years if not more, was my legal advisor and friend. We became very good friends; we were family friends. I was invited to his wedding with the first lady,… He comes to my house, I go to his house. I have access to him, I have his telephone number, and he has the same thing with me. I think the President himself made a statement a few days ago about my relationship with him”.
“Mr Chairman, …I just want to say as the final comment that we thank you for the opportunity for us to come here, throughout my four- years tenure in this business, we have had a lot of interactions with government -Ministers, Presidents and we have never had to make payments or such things and even with very short notice -- where the matters are urgent, we have been able to meet who we need to meet over the past four years.” The CEO of Kosmos Energy (Ghana), Mr. Mensah answered a question posed to him by a Committee Member to indicate whether he has access to the President:
Were you ever expecting any benefits beyond what your corporate image offers you? You have told us that for these purposes, your belief is to project the country and your brand. In this particular event, were you expecting any other benefit, especially, to do with the President of the Republic of Ghana?
No, I was not expecting any such thing, and to be honest with you, the way this thing is projected, I do not need to pay money or anything to have access to the President. I have access to the President anytime that I want, therefore I would not have to pay money to have access to the President. None of the other expatriate business leaders who attended upon the Committee said anything to the effect that they made contribution or attended the event with the view to have access to the President. From the forgoing, it is very untrue that people made payments or sponsored the GEBA event to have access to the President or to have a seat at the Presidential High Table. There is incontrovertible evidence to the effect that a number of the expatriate business owners who sat at the Presidential High Table did not contribute US$100,000.00 or US$75,000.00 or anything at all. What then is the basis of the accusations/allegations of “Cash for Seat” or “Sale of access to the President”. When asked does “Benefits attached” as used in paragraph 3 on page 2 on MoTI2 refer to a physical attachment of a document? CW1 and CW2 argued forcefully that the benefits package was attached to the 23rd October, 2017, letter of MoTI authored by the Hon. Ahenkorah. In their view, “Benefits attached” meant a physical attachment as in the immediately preceding paragraph. CW2 in an answer to a question posed by Mr Avedzi in connection with “Benefits attached” said: “Mr. Chairman, I have answered this earlier. Our view is that the attachment is part of the letter. This is because we have run our checks, the letters that went out to the expatriate businesses are exactly this. This is what the expatriate businesses received. So, I have no doubt in my mind that this is the full complement. They received the letter with these two attachments.” This is a very emphatic statement and it appears CW2 had verified the information he had with the “recipients” of the letter and the two attachments. Earlier on, he had told the Committee that: “…I have stated that when we engage the expatriate businesses who received this 23rd October, 2017 letter, it is my prediction that you would find out that this is exactly the letter they received, because we have done our independent checks. I, however, leave that to the Committee to check.” In the penultimate quote, CW2 is emphatic whilst in the recent quote he spoke about a prediction of the outcome even though he said within the same quote that “we have done our checks.” CW2 has severally used “we” to refer to the Minority Caucus in Parliament. What he said therefore meant that if the Minority Caucus engaged the expatriate businesses…, his prediction was that the outcome would show that the expatriate businesses received the letter and the attachments even though they (the Minority) had done their checks already. The question is, why another check or verification? The Hon Minister (CW3) had in his Press statement of 21st December, 2017 said that the sponsorship/benefits package had no link with the 23rd October, 2017 letter: “the structure, form, content and distribution of the Sponsorship package for the even are solely attributable to the event organizers, and the Ministry had no role in the design of the said package. For the avoidance of doubt, the letter signed by the Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry which has been sighted in the media had no link to the sponsorship package” This is the piece of evidence CW2 sought to discredit and ended up with the inconsistency in his evidence before the Committee. It is imperative to state that MEF which designed the sponsorship package denied the claims by CW1 and CW2 and emphasized that, the two did not go together. The evidence of the Hon. Minister to the effect that, the sponsorship package did not exist at the date of MoTI7 (23rd October, 2017) remains unchallenged and unquestioned. Again, the recipients of the sponsorship packages have given evidence on oath to the effect that the sponsorship package were delivered to them at a dinner on 10th November, 2017, which is in sharp contrast with the claims of CW2. Some extracts from the evidence of the expatriate businesses will be helpful here:
I said on 10th of the November, 2017 did you receive that package at Tang Palace hotel when you went for the dinner? Let me put the question right; I am talking about the package, those in colour and brochure. Are you telling the committee that you received it on the 10th of November, 2017 when you went for the dinner at Tang Palace hotel?
Yes Mr Chairman, I do confirm that. Mr Kalmoni of Japan Motors confirmed that he received the sponsorship package at the dinner, and not as an attachment to the 23rd October, 2017 letter.
...I am asking you if the benefit package, the brochure, where it says that you should pay a US$100,000.00 or US$ 75,000.00 and all that, was it ever discussed with you by anybody before you were informed about the good news?
It was discussed during the dinner event where we were invited. That is correct. Again, the interaction with Mr. Thakwani revealed the following:
Did you at any time participate in the launch of the awards or a dinner?
Yes, we were at the dinner.
Where did the dinner take place?
It was in Tang Palace.
Do you remember the date?
No, Mr Chairman, I am sorry. I have forgotten about the date.
All right. But the venue was Tang Palace?
Hundred per cent.
So, what happened at the Tang Palace?
At Tang Palace, we were seated and were told what we would do. If I remember, Mr Morton was there and briefed us what we would do for this programme that is coming up. They were looking for sponsors. B5 Plus has already been sponsoring government bodies. So, I asked them why we were invited. They said that we were one of the sponsors of Ghana Club 100, AGI and a lot of government -- anything positive happening like this marathon that we sponsored. We had nothing to do with it but we were the sponsors, just like Mike's Examination.
Where did you see that document for the first time?
I think it was on the Dinner Day.” The CEO of Airtel/Tigo, indicated to the Committee that, she received the sponsorship package from MEF through an email. The covering letter to the sponsorship package is dated 24 th November, 2017, one clear month after the letter dated 23rd October, 2017. The above analyses clearly shows that the 23rd October, 2017 letter did not have the benefit/sponsorship package attached to it as alleged by CW1 and CW2. (iii) Recall of Parliament In what circumstances ought the constitutional power of recall of Parliament be triggered? This question is of major public interest in view of significant public concern about convenience, cost and the potential for abuse of the right of recall. Fifteen percent of the membership of Parliament may trigger a recall under article 112 (3) and Mr Speaker is bound to summon Parliament within seven days of receipt of the request without question as to the object or purpose. Mr Speaker cannot also question the legal or procedural validity of the matter the proponents of the recall may be bringing before the house. Article 112 (3) is worded as follows: “Notwithstanding any other provision of this article, fifteen per cent of members of Parliament may request a meeting of Parliament; and the Speaker shall, within seven days after the receipt of the request, summon Parliament.” This imperative is reinforced by Order 38 (1) of the Standing Orders which says: “The Speaker shall, pursuant to clause (3) of article 112 of the Constitution, upon a request of fifteen per cent of Members of Parliament summon a Meeting of Parliament within seven days after the receipt of the request, except that the meeting shall commence not later than seven days after the issue of the summons.” CW1 compelled the Speaker to summon Parliament by invoking article 112 (3) and Order 38 (1). CW1's Motion to investigate the imposition of a levy by the Ministry of Trade and Industry was seconded by CW2 who cited articles 103 (1) and (3) and Order 191 in support of the appointment of a special committee to do the investigation. Yet before the Special Committee set up at their instance, both witnesses quickly abandoned their key plank of “imposition of levy” for want of evidence. Neither could CW1 and CW2 sustain the allegation of extortion canvassed so vigorously in the Media.
“...you recalled Parliament to an emergency sitting per article 112(3) and Standing Order 38(1). Do you believe it was justified in terms of the cost, the drama and the resource complications some Hon. Members of the House faced?...”
“Yes, Mr Chairman, because the Constitution made it so.”
“Mr. Chairman, considering that he raised the matter on the Floor of the House, do you not believe that you had other options, which were more cost effective and could have resolved this matter far earlier? In particular, I am referring to the opportunity you had under Standing Orders 49(1) and (3) where you could have asked for a half hour Motion. I am also referring to the possibility of Standing Order 50(4) (a) where you could have declared a genuine emergency, and Mr. Speaker would have had to hear you and possibly set up the committee while we were sitting? Indeed, I am looking at Order 78(k) where you do not even need notice to raise this matter on the Floor if it is of an urgent nature. ….do you not believe that these other methods would have served the House better and raised the integrity profile of the House higher?”
“Mr Chairman, …I have been in this House long enough to know that during Budget Hearing, this House gets very tired. …If people say it was abuse of process or we could have waited for a better time, I disagree with them because that is why we have democracy.” Contrast the reasons of ‘tiredness' and ‘democratic right' as above given before the Special Committee to the reasons given several days earlier, when in responses to a radio interview (audio submitted to the Committee by CW1 himself) Alhaji Muntaka appeared not to lack options, saying to a radio interviewer:
“…My brother, initially, I was going to ask a Question for the Minister to come and Answer. Now listening to the Deputy Minister, I am convinced that there should be a Parliamentary probe into this.” Interviewer: “So, specifically, going forward as far as parliamentary probes are concerned, what is it that the Minority intends to do; when and how?”
“We have so many options. Like I have told you, my intention was to ask a parliamentary Question for the Hon Minister to come and give details….Secondly, we could ask the Minister for Trade and Industry to come and make a Statement explaining all these. Thirdly, we could come with a Motion demanding that Parliament in detail set up a parliamentary probe into this.” None of the options outlined in the public domain by Alhaji Muntaka demanded a recall of Parliament before being put into effect. Neither did the information put in the public domain via numerous Media outlets prior to the recall, appear to nullify available options in favour of a recall of Parliament. The circumstances outlined above seem to lead to the justifiable conclusion that there may have been wilful abuse of the process of recall. In the event, in debating the Motion in the House, Mr Speaker sought to put in some parameters of self-restraint to help curb abuse of the constitutional power of recall of Parliament and prevent frivolous, vexatious and capricious matters coming before the House mandatorily. The view of the Rt. Hon. Speaker as captured in the proceedings of the 5th January, 2018 is set out in extenso following; i. When did the matter under consideration arise? ii. Can it be perceived in terms of what lawyers normally describe as ‘Novus actus interveniens?' Is what has arisen something new? In other words, when we go on holidays, the question must be asked whether it is something that with all reasonable foresight could not have been pursued for which matter we must come back necessarily? We must be careful when a matter is such that it is within our ordinary premise. We go on vacation and then say that we would want to come back at whatever expense and inconvenience. iii. Could the matter have been raised during the regular Sitting Session with prudent vigilance? iv. Has the matter been raised in any form whatsoever during the Session? If not, why raise it in a moment Parliament goes on recess. The Committee is of the opinion that, given the cost and inconvenience as well as high drama of a Parliamentary recall, Members ought to be guided by the views of Mr Speaker in order that the mandatory power of recall is invoked not only responsibly but also sparingly. This will preserve respect for and enhance the utility of the tool of recall for use for serious matters of state of sudden nature requiring urgent resolution in the public interest where there are no other options immediately available to Parliament. Summary of findings 1) Whether or not the Ministry of Trade and Industry Imposed Levies and Collected same In our evaluation of the totality of the evidence adduced before the Committee, we were unable to ascertain that the Ministry of Trade and Industry imposed levies as captured in the Motion. It seems to us that there is no evidence to support the claim of an imposition of levy by MoTI and we so find. Tied to “levy” was “collection”. It is our view that, if the allegation of levy were to be sustained, then we could safely
Hon Chairman of the Committee, thank you very much. Hon Dr Assibey-Yeboah, you may second the Motion; you have ten minutes. Question proposed
Mr Speaker, I do not believe I would even get to the tenth minute. Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion and in doing so, make some brief remarks. Mr Speaker, on the issue of the levy and collection of same by the Ministry of Trade and Industry, I believe the Hon Chairman of the Committee has done a fantastic job. As he indicated, no levy can
“That the Millennium Excellence Foundation would solicit all funds to host the GEBA prize from inception to hosting of the events and that all funds would be lodged in the Ministry of Trade and Industry account till the event is completed.” So, there was a Memorandum of Understanding between the Foundation and the Ministry that all funds be lodged in the accounts of the Ministry. Mr Speaker, a Ministry cannot open accounts unless it has authorisation from the Controller and Accountant-General. All accounts of the Ministry of Trade and Industry are opened at the Bank of Ghana with authorisation from the Controller and Accountant-General. So, if anybody argues that, for the purpose of this event a separate account be opened, we still would have had to go to Controller and Accountant-General. If there was an existing account duly authorised by the Controller and Accountant-General, then there was no error in using that account to receive these funds, which were premised on the Memorandum of Understanding duly signed between the Ministry and the Foundation. Mr Speaker, again, in section 51(1) of the PFMA, it says and with your permission I quote: “A bank account shall not be opened for any covered entity without the written approval of the Controller and Accountant- General.” So, again, the PFMA says that, the Ministry could not have opened an account without the authorisation of the Controller and Accountant-General. They also alleged the usage of the General Counterfoil Receipt (GCR) for collecting the moneys. If we go to page 111 of the Report -- Mr Speaker, I would start from page 110:
That is true so let us go back to the GCR. Under what circumstance can it be used to collect private moneys?
Private moneys? It can never be used to collect moneys -- private moneys for private accounts but it can be used to collect moneys that could go into public accounts or public funds.” So, for moneys to go into public funds, in this case, the accounts of the Ministry of Trade and Industry, one would have to use the GCR. Once one collects moneys, be it public or private, one has to use the GCR. Mr Speaker, if we go to the FAR, as outmoded as it is, even in Regulation 28 (1), it says: “A collector who is satisfied that money tendered is in order, shall issue an original receipt to the payer, and shall deal with the duplicate and triplicate copies as required by Departmental Accounting Instruc- tions.” So, the Ministry could not have issued a receipt so procured from Kantamanto for these moneys. They could have used only the GCR receipts. Regulation 28 (2) says further that: “Temporary receipts or receipts other than in the authorised form shall not be used for collections.” So, Mr Speaker, they could not have used any other receipts save the GCR.
“A person who issues a temporary receipt or an unauthorised form for collections is in breach of financial discipline as defined in Regulation 8 (1).” So, Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister and his Ministry acted rightly by issuing a GCR for the collection of these moneys. Mr Speaker, in section 1.1 of the Memorandum of Understanding, it says that, this is an initiative under the Ministry of Trade and Industry, a government partnership with the Millennium Excellence Foundation. So, clearly, this was Public Private Partnership (PPP). Mr Speaker, as a matter of fact, in section 1.6.2 of MoU, it says the Ministry of Trade and Industry and the Foundation would agree on terms of remuneration, and that the Millennium Excellence Foundation (MEF) would retain 90 per cent then the MoTI would retain 10 per cent for subsequent hosting of the GEBA. So, 90 per cent was to go to the Foundation, and 10 per cent of the funds would go to the Ministry. Mr Speaker, section 1.9 of the MoU further fortifies this PPP arrangement by saying that, and I quote: “MoTI and MEF agree to a long term collaborative/ownership and management. However, the event would be hosted under the auspices of the Ministry of Trade and Industry.” So, clearly, this was a public-private initiative. So, for anybody to suggest that these were private funds, the Committee disagrees; neither were they public funds. Mr Speaker, as far as I am concerned, there is no law on PPP in Ghana. If we go to page 2 of the Report, Hon Muntaka in moving his Motion on 5th January, 2018 said that if we looked at the interpretation of public resources, it was beyond doubt that the moneys that were collected by the Ministry formed a part of our public resources. If we go to the Interpretation section of the PFMA, public resources are defined to mean public revenue including revenue acquired through donation, bequest, borrowing, movable and fixed assets, deposits, receivables and rights. This is the definition of public resources in the interpretation section of the PFMA. So, when they appeared before the Committee -- and Mr Speaker, I would refer to page 68 of the Report -- [Interruptions] -- Sorry, it is not page 68, but when Hon Muntaka was asked --
Hon Member, you may conclude.
When Hon Muntaka was asked which of the items mentioned in the definitions would apply here, he retorted that what the Ministry did was to place the funds received here under ‘receivables'. Receivables refer to outstanding invoices a company has, or moneys that a company is owed. This could not have been receivables. Again, they said that it is Internally Generated Fund (IGF) because this relates to activities of the Ministry. Mr Speaker, the funds could not have arisen from the normal activities of the Ministry because the Foundation was supposed to solicit funds for the event. Hon Okudzeto Ablakwa went further to say that these were donations. As established earlier, these funds could not have been public; neither could they have been private.
Hon Buaben Asamoa, you have 10 minutes. In view of the Business still before the House and the time spent so far, I direct that Business is extended after 2 p.m. accordingly. Hon Member, please continue.
Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to contribute to the Motion on the floor. A Committee is very interested in the use of the mechanism for “Recall of Parliament” and a question is asked on page 137 of the Report: “In what circumstances of the constitutional power of recall of Parliament be triggered? This question is of major public interest of view of significant public concern about convenience, cost and the potential for abuse of the right of recall” Mr Speaker, this is the industry the Committee of this House you set up, put us to. An eight (8) inch thick volume of material and such a matter of public investment, they refuse to sit down and debate it. It is an affront to the image of Parliament and Parliament must take a very strong stand on that.
“Hon Members, I have studied the Constitution very carefully and I am convinced that, the recall provided for in article 112 (3) is mandatory and once the requisite number of Hon Members of Parliament have signed the petition as appropriately provided by law, I do not see any discretion therein and I do not intend to invoke any. Nevertheless, once Parliament is recalled, Mr Speaker may have the discretion regarding what business takes place. For that matter anything that offends the issues raised above, that is the pointers would be grounds for open and close points policy. We would recall and then send away.” These are Mr Speaker's words. Mr Speaker, in consequence, our recommendation on page 144 of the Report is that, we realised that the recall was in two steps. The Constitution provides for summoning the House under article 112 (3), however, article 38 (1) gives -- Mr Speaker, the summons must be within 7 days and at the receipt of the summons, Mr Speaker must summon the House within seven days. When Mr Speaker summons the House, Standing Order 38 (1) says that Mr Speaker has seven days within which he must Sit the House for the matter to be heard. So, all in all and given how fast Mr Speaker wants to move, one has seven days and a consequence seven days to look at the matter. Mr Speaker, we believe that, when the summons arrive and we are called because it is mandatory for Mr Speaker, once we get into the House, Mr Speaker could use his authority under Standing Order 38 (1) to peremptorily dismiss whatever matter there is and if it does not stand up to the rules and if it is not about an urgent and serious government business. Mr Speaker, on that note, I am grateful for the opportunity given to me to serve on the Committee and I would want this House to support and vote for the adoption of the Report of the Committee. Mr Speaker, I am most grateful.
Hon Member, thank you very much. Hon Minister for Trade and Industry, Hon Alan Kyerematen may make some comments. We all know that, under the Constitution, Hon Ministers have the right to be present and contribute where necessary. This is an appropriate occasion for us to hear from the Hon Minister for a couple of minutes, then the Hon Majority Leader would wind up. Hon Minister? Hon Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr Alan K. Kyerematen): Mr Speaker, I rise to firstly express the sincerest appreciation of the Ministry of Trade and Industry for the very comprehensive and excellent work that was done by the Special Committee which was appointed under your authority and for exposing the truth in respect of the matter under reference today. Mr Speaker, but having been given this platform I cannot resist the temptation of making a few comments about four of the key individuals who have been associated with this drama. Mr Speaker, I would start with Hon Muntaka -- it is a matter of record that this august House was summoned on the Motion moved by Hon Muntaka, not in response to a state of emergency but to investigate an allegation of the imposition of a levy. Mr Speaker, secondly, it is also on record that during the evidence adduced by Hon Muntaka, he submitted evidence of a document that has now been proved to be fraudulent because an invitation letter that was supposed to have been authored by the Hon Deputy Minister for Trade and Industry now had a photocopy at the back -- a sponsorship package. Mr Speaker, it is on record that the beneficiaries or the recipients of this document have given evidence on oath that they received the sponsorship package separately from the letter of invitation. Mr Speaker, if an Hon Member submits a document which has now been proven and established to be fraudulent but this was submitted on oath before a Special Committee of this august House, Mr Speaker then it may be a case that must be properly interrogated. Mr Speaker, Hon Ayine made several efforts to advance legal arguments during the course of interrogation which were never substantiated either by evidence or substantive law. Subsequently, we have seen that these same legal arguments have found their way in the Minority's Report which this august House is not even considering.
Hon Majority Leader, you have 20 minutes to conclude.
Mr Speaker, thank you very much for the opportunity to comment on the Report submitted by the Special Committee to investigate the levy and collection of sums of money by the Ministry of Trade and Industry from expatriate business and related matters during the recently held Ghana Expatriate Businesses Awards in Accra. Mr Speaker, on the 27th December, 2017, a section of the Minority purported to have submitted a request to you, Mr Speaker, to summon Parliament to consider their Motion. It is important to observe that, the 27th December was the first working day after Parliament adjourned Sine Die to close the Third Meeting of the First Session of the Seventh Parliament. Mr Speaker, before submitting their request, a number of the Minority Members of Parliament, including in particular, the Chief Whip had made submissions on the Floor of the House during the debates on the Motion for the approval of the Estimates for the Ministry of Trade and Industry to the extent that these issues raised by Hon Colleagues were mere hearsays and not predicated on any evidence; it was deemed unmeritorious of any significant response. Mr Speaker, it is also instructive to note that, before the House recessed, some Minority Members of Parliament had, as have become very typical, hopped from one radio station to the other making wild claims of impropriety on the part of the President and the Hon Minister for Trade and Industry. Specifically, they had alleged that, both the President and the Minister of Trade and Industry had involved themselves in corruption, bribery and extortion. Mr Speaker, theirs was a very spirited attempt to tag both the President and the Minister as corrupt. The contrite attempt proved fruitless as the tag simply would not wash. Mr Speaker, the preamble of the 1992 Constitution imposes a huge burden on the people of Ghana. In the Referendum that approved the Constitution, we agreed to establish and I quote from the Constitution: “A framework of Government which shall secure for ourselves and posterity the blessings liberty, equality opportunity and prosperity.” Mr Speaker, additionally, we solemnly declared and affirmed to freedom, justice and probity and accountability. I emphasise probity and accountability. Mr Speaker, Parliament is the people's representative, and as Parliament is the Arm of Government with the prime responsibility to ensure probity and accountability within our governance architecture. Parliament has a duty to oversee the Executive. Mr Speaker, so, ordinarily, if a Motion relates to financial malfeasance, as the allegation was, if it relates to bribery, corruption or extortion on the part of the Executive, Parliament must rise in unison to support that call, except that, in this very Motion, as I noted earlier, it was a complete abuse of the process in Parliament. Mr Speaker, the principle underpinning article 112 (3) and Standing Order 38 is that, the summoning or recall of Parliament must be triggered by peculiar circumstances. It is not for nothing that the side note of Standing Order 38 provides, “Meeting by special request”; the request must be special in response to special circumstances, which then would mean that, a matter of urgent public importance suddenly arises during the period of adjournment. Mr Speaker, in Standing Order 61 (1), the Speaker is made the sole judge of the admissibility of a Question. In Standing Order 79(4), the Speaker is conferred with the authority to receive and direct the shape, every Motion should assume and, indeed, its admissibility. Standing Order 72 vests in the Speaker, the authority to grant leave to any Hon Member who might want to make a Statement in Parliament. In the exercise of his discretionary power, if a Speaker elects in respect of the admissibility of a Question, Motion or Statement, lest not to be fair and candid; in other words, if the Speaker, lest to be arbitrary, capricious or bias either by resentment, prejudice or personally dislike or as provided for under article 296 of the Constitution, then, a member could invoke article 112 (3) of the Constitution. Mr Speaker, an Hon Member could then force the hand of a Speaker who decides not to provide space for any person or any group, including the Minority to summon Parliament to respond to such matters. Mr Speaker, if a case is an appropriate description of what matter is before us today, as was filed with the Speaker on 27th December,2017 the first working day after Parliament adjourned on 22nd December, the question to be asked and answered are these: Had any matter of urgent public importance suddenly arisen during the weekend and the Christmas holidays, spanning 23rd to 26th December,2017?
Mr Speaker, none whatsoever had arisen. During the period, when Parliament was in session, before adjourning sine die on 22nd December, 2017 had any Question, Motion or Statement been submitted to the Speaker, which the Speaker had for whatever reason refused to admit? None whatsoever; no Question, no Motion and no Statement had been filed by any Hon Member of this House in respect of the matter before us. Mr Speaker, it is for this reason that some of us stated categorically that the request by a section of the Minority to recall Parliament represents a monumental abuse of the processes of Parliament. Mr Speaker, Hon Members would recall that on the 22nd December,02017 when Parliament was about adjourning sine die, as the Leader of Government Business and indeed as Leader of the House, I reitrated that the House would resume on 23rd January, 2017. When this Motion was submitted on 27th December, 2017 what it meant was that, as per Standing Order 38 and indeed, article 112 (3), you had 14 days within which to summon Parliament. If we took away the holidays and the weekends, you had up to 17th January, 2017 to recall Parliament, and given the fact that Parliament was to be recalled on 23rd January, 2018 what it meant was that Parliament was going to be summoned exactly two Sitting days before the recall of Parliament. What, indeed, was the sense in this enterprise? Mr Speaker, it is one of the reasons we said that, this was indeed an abuse of the processes of this House. There was no compelling reasons that justified such a recall. Mr Speaker, on the Motion itself, it was Hon Muntaka, as we submitted the other time who submitted the application, a request to the Speaker to summon Parliament. The Member of Parliament for Asawase claimed to be acting on behalf of a section of Minority Members who had appended their signatures on a number of sheets, and he began by saying in that memorandum, that, we the undersigned Members. It came to the fore, that he was not part of the persons who had appended their signatures, so he was not part of those people who had undersigned. That being the case, and given the fact that none of those people who had undersigned had also joined ranks in appending their signatures to the memorandum, Mr Speaker, what it meant was that technically no application for a recall for summoning of Parliament had come to you, because Hon Muntaka was not part of those people who had appended their signatures. Mr Speaker, it is one of the reasons we said that the Motion itself was technically bankrupt and incompetent, and that should not even have caused Parliament to be recalled, but Mr Speaker, you are a reverend minister -- [Laughter] -- and you demonstrated magnanimity and summoned Parliament, even though nothing indicated that those people who had appended their signatures were calling for a recall of Parliament. Mr Speaker, that document in itself was a dubious document. The correct adjective has been supplied by Hon O.B.Amoah. It was a very dubious, shadowy and shady document. Mr Speaker, as I have said earlier, before summoning Parliament, the airwaves had been inundated with allegations of bribery, corruption and
Mr Speaker, we must be careful in order to protect the integrity of this House. The prime mover of the Motion, who sent this House on a wild goose chase, premiered the argument on a supposed document, which according to him, had come from the Ministry of Trade and Industry.
Hon Majority Leader, you may conclude.
Mr Speaker, I would do so presently. Mr Speaker, so he said that the moneys had to be paid. That was the premise of his allegation -- that the moneys had to be paid. Mr Speaker, with your permission, I would refer to page 2, paragraph 2 of the Committee's Report: “In moving the Motion, Hon Muntaka alleged that people had to pay money to sit close to the President and expressed worry over same. He also stated that he had a document which stated that the moneys “had to be paid.” Mr Speaker, that is the allegation Hon Muntaka made. When he was called upon to substantiate, he could not. He said the burden was on the Committee to establish that the moneys had been paid. Mr Speaker, we were told that various legislations and Acts had been violated by both the President and the Hon Minister for Trade and Industry. When Hon Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa was pushed to prove any such, he could not -- as the Hon Chairman of the Committee on Finance indicated, he could not cite one provision in the Public Financial Management Act or even in the Regulations that he quoted; not one. Should Parliament allow such exercises to go on? Mr Speaker, this country is most grateful to the Committee for such a diligent work. But it is important, given what the Hon Minority Leader said, to relate to the conduct of our two Hon Colleagues. Mr Speaker, Hon Avedzi had applied to you, that he wanted to attend an international conference and you granted him leave, if he so preferred. So, he abandoned the work of the Committee and went out. Of course, at the time he left, the Committee had almost finished with their business; they were about considering the evidence before them. Mr Speaker, it is instructive to learn from the Committee that, they had agreed on the first 99 pages of the Report line by line, and sentence by sentence. It is instructive again to hear that when the Hon Chairman invited the Hon Members of the Committee to a meeting to discuss what should constitute the Report, Hon Avedzi had travelled out. Hon Dr Ayine, who was often very late to the Committee's meetings, after he asked for the draft Report, he then disappeared. For two days, he went into a self-imposed solitary confinement -- [Laughter] -- to do whatever. When his Hon Colleagues called on him via telephone, he would not respond. Mr Speaker, could we imagine that a person who had to appear and participate in the proceedings of the Committee at 3.00 o'clock would not respond to
telephone calls at 5.00 o'clock? He said he would be there at 7.00 o'clock. They did his bidding; but at 7.00 o'clock, he put off his mobile phone until 12.00 midnight, when he decided to call the Hon Chairman of the Committee to tell him that his laptop had crashed. Could we believe that? For the telephone calls, he said he had run out of power, because there was power outage in his residence. Mr Speaker, cock and bull stories -- [Hear! Hear!] That is a former Deputy Attorney-General and Deputy Minister for Justice of this Republic. That, certainly, is textbook dishonesty. We cannot encourage that. Mr Speaker, then he went and copied verbatim from the discussion that had gone on -- the draft Report that they had from pages 1-99, which they had agreed on. He went and rearranged the pages, and pretended that he had written his own Report. Mr Speaker, this House, as I said, cannot be held ransom by one person. The difficulty is that, when he appeared before his own Hon Leaders, he told palpable untruth to the Hon Minority Leader. He had not submitted to the Committee; yet, he charged the other Hon Members of the Committee that they were untruthful, because he could not find them when he looked for them. Could anybody believe that? When he knew that they had reclined to a hotel room to do that? He was not at the hotel; the three other Hon Members were there. They searched for him, but he did not avail himself. Yet, he went to the Hon Minority Leader and told him --
And in conclusion? [Laughter.]
Mr Speaker, in conclusion, it is good to learn that after the Committee had heard, analysed and evaluated the evidence adduced before it, it has come to the conclusion that there is no merit in the allegations levelled against the Ministry of Trade and Industry, indeed, the Hon Minister for Trade and Industry and the President as cautioned in the Motion, which culminated in the setting up of the Special Committee. I associate myself with the observations and conclusions of the Committee, and I urge all of us to adopt and approve of the Report of the Committee. Question put and Motion agreed to.
As per the conclusions, there is no merit whatsoever in the allegations made against the Hon Minister, the Ministry or any other person or body in any manner whatsoever. Particularly, there has been no levy or extortion of any kind or measure. No financial regulation nor laid down procedure was broken. No irregularity whatsoever took place. The Controller and Accountant-General's evidence was helpful, and it was most indicative of arriving at the conclusion, that no irregularity in our financial laws and processes were breached. Mr Gbeho and all other independent witnesses must be congratulated for helping us to get to the bottom of this matter. Hon Members, the inquisitorial powers of Parliament is very important, but it should not be frivolously applied. A complaint must have serious substance to trigger the powers of this House of the Representatives of the good people of Ghana. Hon Members, fishing interrogatories, as they are called in law, are frowned upon by courts of competent jurisdiction throughout the world. An allegation must not simply be thrown into the air for Parliament to be asked to investigate. They must be substantial, and not an abuse of due process. Hon Members, any other matter that would arise, worthy of investigation in the view of the Committee, should be duly investigated and appropriate action taken against whoever, whether an Hon Member of the House or otherwise, would be involved in that which Parliament considers being dealt with. Hon Members, if anybody's reputation has been tampered with in any manner, he or she must take consolation in the ultimate truth. This is part of the process of public service. The overarching issue throughout this matter was the truth. The truth is fully out. Finally, we thank the Committee members and all well-meaning citizens who cooperated in the process. We also thank God. This is how our Republic can continue to grow. Hon Members, I thank you. Yes, Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, we could deal with the item numbered 5 on the Order Paper.
Hon Members, item numbered 5 -- Presentation of Papers. Hon Members, the Hon First Deputy Speaker would take the Chair. We are on the Presentation of Papers.
MR FIRST DEPUTY SPEAKER
Hon Members, item numbered 5 (b) on the Order Paper.
Mr Speaker, item numbered 5 (b) was laid in this House on the 22nd of December, 2017. Mr Speaker, on that day, the Assembly Press was inundated by a number issues. So, on that very day, which was the 22nd of December, 2017, the day that Parliament
Hon Member, shall we take them one after the other? So, first, we should take item numbered 5 (b), where we would withdraw and lay a new one; then we would move on to item 5 (c). So, please, leave is granted to withdraw the Legal Profession (Professional and Post-Call Law Course) Regulations, 2017, which was earlier laid.
Mr Speaker, it is so withdrawn, and I do lay it now. By the Attorney- General and Minister for Justice -- Legal Profession (Profession and Post-Call Law Course Regulations, 2017). Referred to the Subsidiary Legislation Committee.
Hon Members, item numbered 5 (c) on the Order Paper.
Mr Speaker, I assume that you have granted the leave to withdraw. By the Hon Minister for Monitoring and Evaluation -- National Identity Register (Amend- ment) Regulations, 2018. Referred to the Committee of Subsidiary Legislation.
Yes, Hon Member for New Juaben South?
Mr Speaker, I would want your guidance on item 5 (b) -- the Legal Profession (Professional and Post-Call Law Course) Regulations, 2017. It said “2017”. At this time of laying the Paper, I would have thought it would be “2018”.
Very well, thank you for prompting the House. The Regulation should read, “Legal Profession (Professional and Post-Call Law Course) Regulations, 2018”. Hon Members, item 5 (d) (i) by the Hon Chairman of the Finance Committee.
Item numbered 5 (d) (ii) on the Order Paper. By the Chairman of the Committee -- (ii) Report of the Finance Committee on the Agreement Between the Government of the Republic of Ghana and the Government of the United States of America regarding Mutual Assistance Between their Customs Administrations.
Item numbered 8 on the Order Paper -- Motions. Hon Majority Leader, the Hon Chairman of the Committee is not here. How do we do it?
Mr Speaker, I would plead that we stand the Motions listed as items 8 and 9 down until tomorrow.
Items 8 and 9 are duly deferred. At this juncture, Hon Majority Leader, can I bring the proceedings to a close? Unless there is any other matter.
Mr Speaker, there is no other matter of significant importance, so, you may adjourn.