Officials of Millennium Excellence Foundation, the organisers of the Ghana Expatriate Business Awards (GEBA), will today January 15, 2018, appear at the on-going Parliamentary probe to answer tough questions about their involvement Cash-for-Seat scandal.
Last week, the Trade Minister, Alan Kyerematen, disclosed that he verbally instructed the organisers not to charge businessmen who sat on the same table as President Akufo-Addo.
According to Mr Kyerematen, since he was not a member of the planning committee of the event, he requested to be occasionally briefed about the progress towards staging the event.
“In one of these briefing sessions this discussion came up and my understanding is that let us be sure if it is sponsorship it is only sponsorship…not that I am contributing to this event so that I get a seat close to the president,” he said.
The Minority in Parliament generated public criticism against the government when they alleged that the Trades Ministry and Millennium Excellence Foundation abused the Presidency when they charged expatriates between $15,000 and $100,000 for a chance to sit at the President’s table during the awards.
The fee — described by proponents as a mere fundraising endeavour — will also earn the expatriates private meetings with the President at a later date.
The Minority MPs held that the transaction lacked transparency, was highly unethical and hence called for a Parliamentary probe on grounds that the monies were paid into the account of the Trades Ministry — and hence constituted public funds.
Although the Presidency cleared the Trades Ministry of any wrongdoing, the Minority pushed for the thorough probe.
The Speaker agreed to the call and constituted a five-member committee to look into the matter.
Last week when sitting begun, the Minority National Democratic Congress (NDC) legislators, Muntaka Mubarak and Samuel Okudjeto Ablakwa together with the Trades Minister Alan Kyerematen took their turns before the committee.
What did they say?
Mr Ablakwa, MP for North Tongu, insisted that he had documentary evidence in his possession showing clearly that the expatriates were charged the monies for a chance to sit on the same table as the President of the Republic and not President of Millennium Excellence Foundation, Mr Ashim Morton, as had been alleged in the heat of the revelation.
Minority Chief Whip, Muntaka Mubarak, vehemently defended his claim that the Presidency was used to make profit for private individuals.
He showed inconsistencies in the Trade ministry’s responses which first denied playing any role in designing the sponsorship packages but later admitted it collected monies from expatriates and Ghanaians on behalf of the private event body, Millenium Excellence Foundation.
What questions will be posed to Millennium Excellence Foundation?
Spokesperson of the Committee, Yaw Buabeng Asamoah has told Joy News when sitting resumes at 10:00 am Monday, the organisers of GEBA will be expected to also present their case as the three witnesses have done.
“We expect them to tell their story about the organisation for the committee members to have the opportunity to find out from them if anything went amiss,” he said.
Meanwhile, it is not clear if Millennium Excellence Foundation will be represented by its President Mr Ashim Morton or some other representative, but Mr Buabeng indicates the Committee will admit any representative that the Foundation will present