Musicians Want GHAMRO Probed
A group of Ghanaian musicians who are not satisfied with the activities of the Ghana Music Right Organisation (GHAMRO) headed by Carlos Sekyi have declared they will not sit for a handful of unprofessional people to destroy the music industry.
The group which also called for a probe into the operations of GHAMRO said the probe must look into royalties collected for public performances of members' works, levies on blank cassettes and CDs and other funds belonging to songwriters and other owners.
It described GHAMRO as 'a tragic disaster' and called for a comprehensive overhaul of the collective society, declaring, 'The government must probe GHAMRO now. Alhaji Sidiku Buari and the oversight committee were better than GHAMRO'.
The group, while applauding periodic calls by stakeholders for unity among the ranks of music owners, believed it could only work if preceded by accountability, as there could be no unity without first ensuring that justice is not only done, but seen to be done.
The group disclosed that during Alhaji Sidiku Buari's regime, Carlos Sakyi moved from one radio station to another, calling for accountability and probity. 'So why are they now describing calls for probe as fruitless and loud noise when he (Carlos) too is in power?'
According to the group, the actions of some of the players in the industry have turned the fortunes of the industry upside down.
Enoch Agyapong, a music producer, one of those calling for investigations into the operations GHAMRO activities, said GHAMRO is a public institution but the money it has in its coffers is for musicians and composers to whom only the society must be accountable.
'The sad news is that musicians have no idea what they are due, what is in the coffers for them, how their monies are invested, what interest has accrued.
Nobody knows how much and how those monies collected from music users have been disbursed. Sidiku Buari and board members of the oversight committee were far better than Carlos Sakyi and GHAMRO,' he said.
In a related development BEATWAVES gathered that before Alhaji Sidiku Buari's administration left office, the accounts of COSGA were duly presented to the stakeholders by external auditors. Huge sums of money belonging to the stakeholders were deposited in the account of the society.
A source close to the Sidiku's administration who spoke to BEATWAVES said 'those making the allegation fear the probe which a large number of Ghanaian musicians have called for and are making all efforts to divert the attention of the government and stakeholders from probing the industry.
'We left no debt, but money for the right owners in the music industry. We worked tirelessly to make sure every musician got his or her royalty twice every year.
Even before we paid them their royalties, we announced to them the total amount of money collected and the criteria used in distributing the royalties.
No salary for board members. Board members were given allowance per sitting which was once in three weeks.
It is ridiculous to hear a board member at GHAMRO takes home GH¢2,500 as his monthly salary,' the source said.
On the issue of a ¢400 million loan from the SG-SSB Bank in 1998, the source disclosed that the loan was contracted on behalf of the Copyright Society of Ghana (COSGA) by the then board members including the late Faisal Helwani, chief executive officer of Bibini Music Productions, Ebo Hawkson, former chairman of the National Commission for Culture, Kwesi Agyapong and Rex Boateng a music producer, to purchase and run the banderole adhesive stickers which were introduced to protect creative works on the market.
By George Clifford Owusu