Minister of Trades and Industry Alan Kwadwo Kyerematen has shot down claims that monies were extorted from expatriate business executives during a recently held Ghana Expatriates Business Awards (GEBA).
He said most of the business executives who were seated on the Presidential High Table for the event “already have direct access to the President and do not need to pay monies to interact with him”.
There has been widespread controversy over a certain demand for the payment of monies between $25,000 and $100,000 for expatriate business executives to sit near President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo at the event.
It is said to have been captured in a letter written by Deputy Minister of Trades and Industry Carlos Ahenkorah.
The matter was first raised in Parliament by the Minority Chief Whip, Alhaji Muntaka Mubarak Mohammed, who wanted the Trades Ministry to account for the monies.
But a scuffle that later ensued between Mr Ahenkorah, who is a Member of Parliament for Tema West Constituency, and his North Tongu Constituency colleague, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, on Tuesday brought the issue further to the fore.
This led to the Minority demanding further explanations to the letter with Mr Okudzeto Ablakwa claiming having “facts” to back his claims.
President Akufo-Addo, consequently, queried the Trades Minister over the whole issue on Wednesday.
In his response, which he was asked to make public after ostensibly being cleared of any wrongdoing, Mr Kyerematen said neither the president nor any official at the presidency directly or indirectly “or even remotely” was connected to the event.
In a 10-prong press statement, the Trades Minister emphasized that the organizers, Millennium Excellence Foundation (MEF), were specifically instructed not to collect any monies to place persons or organizations on the Presidential High Table.
He said plans were put in place to account for all monies to be collected at the event.
“Following the event, the Ministry in collaboration with the event organizers have audited the account for the event and can confirm that an amount of Ghs2,667,215.00 was raised against an expenditure of Ghs2,367,426.06.
“It is acknowledged that the event organizers, as private sector commercial operators are entitled to a fair return for their efforts in organizing the event.”
A portion of the funds accrued has been designated for the financing of the next awards event.
“For the avoidance of doubt,” Mr Kyerematen stressed in his press statement, “none of the individuals/companies who sat on the Presidential High Table at the event made a contribution of $100,000.00 prior to the event as being alleged.
“Indeed, there were persons/companies seated at the Presidential High Table who did not make any monetary contribution before or after the event.”
He said he was ready to interrogate any specific allegation made in respect of the organization of the event.
By Emmanuel Kwame Amoh|3news.com|Ghana