The Minority Members on the five-member ad hoc committee looking into the ‘cash-for-seat’ saga have issued a counter report faulting the Trade and Industry Ministry for unethically profiting from the presence of the president in an event. The 33-page report said the Ministry of Trade and Industry contravened existing law on public financial management, particularly the Financial Administration Regulations, by allowing the use of an existing account for the receipt of monies that it claimed were private funds. The report was authored by James Klutse Avedzi and Dr. Dominic Akuritinga Ayine, the two Minority Members on the committee set up by the Speaker of Parliament in January. The substantive committee presented its report to Parliament on Friday for discussions on Tuesday. The report is said to exonerate the Trade Ministry from any wrongdoing. But the two Minority members, who felt their views were stifled and not represented in the final report presented by committee chairman Kwasi Ameyaw Cheremeh, decided to issue their own report. “First of all, at the conclusion of deliberations, it became patently clear that the Majority Members of the Committee had made up their minds about the issues of fact and the conclusions to be drawn from the evidence adduced before the Committee,” the counter report stated. According to the Minority’s report, the President of the Millennium Excellence Foundation (MEF), Ashim Morton, “forged documents in a desperate attempt to cover up this blatant fact”. Read the Summary of the Minority’s report In light of the evidence adduced before the Committee, we are convinced that:
- In the overall circumstances surrounding the organization of the Ghana Expatriate Business Awards, whilst the proponent of the motion could not justify his use of the word “levy” from a legal-technical point of view, it cannot be denied that, from the evidence on record, the Ministry of Trade and Industry played a pre-eminent role in the determination of the amounts ‘solicited’ by the MEF. In short, the manner in which the sponsorship package was designed and executed conforms to Honourable Muhammed-Muntaka Mubarak’s conception of a levy as “money that you have to pay.” The pre-determined sums of money were paid with the backing of the Ministry of Trade and Industry, the agency with oversight responsibility for the business sector of the economy;
- Notwithstanding denials to the contrary, there is evidence on record to the effect that, in its initial conception, the event had the President of the Republic as the center of attraction and that payment for seats bore a direct relationship to the distance of the payor’s seat from the presidential high table. Furthermore, the evidence shows clearly that Mr. Ashim Morton forged documents in a desperate attempt to cover up this blatant fact;
- The Ministry of Trade and Industry contravened existing law on public financial management, particularly the Financial Administration Regulations, by allowing the use of an existing account for the receipt of monies that it claimed were private funds;
- The Ministry of Trade and Industry engaged in serious ethical violations by allowing its credibility as a public agency to be used to amass profit for a private non-profit organization which it cannot hold to public standards of accountability as well as by using the name of the President of the Republic as a means to make such profit;
- The MEF engaged in deceitful practices in the process of the organization of the awards event by selecting companies for awards even when the companies had not submitted information meeting the designed criteria and also forged documents meant to deceive the Committee and Parliament as a whole; and
- The Ministry of Trade and Industry failed or neglected to take account of possible violations of foreign corrupt practice laws and regulations in the conception, design and organization of the expatriate business awards.