A parliamentary committee has suspended sitting indefinitely after expatriate witnesses failed to show up to assist investigations into claims the presidency was unethically used to raise money.
The committee had invited 23 expatriate businesses that sponsored the Ghana Expatriate Business Awards last December. But none of them was present to testify when the committee sat on Tuesday10am.
“We gave them 10 o’clock…unfortunately, we waited up until it is 10 minutes after 11 am, none has shown up. So we are unable to continue with the work today” committee Chairman, Ameyaw Kyeremeh, told the media.
Majority Chief Whip, Ameyaw Kyeremeh, who is New Patriotic Party (NPP) MP for Sunyani East promised that fresh arrangements will be made to get them to appear.
He said efforts will be made to “re-contact” the expected witnesses.
The reason for their absence was not officially communicated to the committee but there are suggestions the business leaders preferred an in-camera hearing.
The spokesperson for the bi-partisan probe, Yaw Buabeng Asamoah, who is also a member of the committee explained to the media, the option of an in-camera hearing “has never been closed”.
But the request must be justified on merit, he said.
The Adentan NPP MP said the absence of the expatriate business leaders affects the pace at which the committee gathers the evidence which “puts pressure” on the committee to complete its work.
The committee which was set up on January 5, began work on January 11 and has January 24, 2018, deadline to meet. But the Adentan MP said it may be prudent to ask for an extension.
“It was always a tight deadline so obviously if we hit a roadblock I wouldn’t be surprised” if there is an extension he said.
Yaw Buabeng Asamoah however, assured there is a lot of work done to gather evidence to prepare a report for parliament.
He said the committee does not feel disrespected by the failure of the expatriates to show up.
The committee is investigating allegations made by the Minority in Parliament that the organisers of the awards dinner, Millenium Excellence Foundation asked sponsors to pay $100,000 to sit close to the President at the dinner event.
The sponsors were to also get benefits which included a private dinner with the president. The Foundation has said no one paid the sum and no one sat close to the president who had to pay $100,000.
TheTrades and Industry Ministry is also under investigations after it collected monies from sponsors of the event on behalf of the Foundation.