15.07.2004 General News

NUGS' conference erupts into confusion

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Accra, July 15, GNA - Pandemonium broke loose at a press conference organized by the National Union of Ghana Students (NUGS) in Accra on Wednesday.

The confusion erupted when Mr Issahuku Kotomah, the Former Students' Representative and Coordinating Secretary to the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETfund) wanted to react to an allegation made against him by the NUGS President, Mr Kenneth Abotsi.

Mr Abotsi had alleged that an amount of 16 million cedis was transferred into the personal account of Mr Kotomah by the GETFund Board and he insisted that he must be allowed to react to the allegation. He got up from his seat and started shouting: "Let me react! Let me react! I am here! You are lying! Let me react! That is nonsense!" Mr Kotomah started moving towards the Mr Abotsi but one of the students held him back. He was still shouting on top of his voice. When Mr Kotomah was finally given the chance to react to the allegation most of the students at the press conference stormed out of the room screaming: "Leave the stand! Leave the stand! What you are saying is useless!

Mr Kotomah said: "I still hold the view that the NUGS Executive is politically divided along party lines! Let me make my point. I will say it all I will not summarize. I will give details".

He explained that the 16 million cedis was given to him when he initiated a tour to member-institutions of NUGS to apprise students about the GETfund and the GETFund Board thought it was wise on his part to have come out with such a laudable initiative.

"The money was transferred to my account because it is not right for GETFund to give money to a student union. Other student unions would use it as a basis to even request for monies from the GETFund," he said. The NUGS President in his presentation mentioned that the Union was disappointed at the manner in which the GETFund Board transferred an amount of 16 million cedis into the personal account of Mr Kotomah, the then Students' Representative on the Board for an alleged educational countrywide tour.

He said the money was sourced using the letterheads of the NUGS without prior notice and approval of the Union and questioned, if that was the normal administrative practice that huge sums of money meant for an exercise could be paid into a personal account of people representing a group.

Mr Abotsi denied that NUGS was partisan; saying: "This is very untrue and flies in the face of our Constitution, whose preamble is emphatic about a non-partisan union.

He said the Central Committee of NUGS and not any single Executive member carried out the recent removal of Mr Kotomah from the office of the GETfund.

Mr Abotsi called on all students to be vigilant and monitor all GETfund projects in various institutions. Students say GETFUND arrears is now 275.46 billion cedis Accra, July 14, GNA - The National Union of Ghana Students (NUGS) on Wednesday announced that the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETfund) arrears stood at 275.46 billion cedis and not 411.613 billion cedis as it had previously declared.

It said the new discovery was based on the findings of a five-man independent committee of NUGS Central Committee set up to look into the matter.

The Committee established that based on the premise that collection of VAT revenue at the rate of 12.5 per cent commenced in June, 2000 from the inception of GET Fund and not September 2000 as Government spokespersons said, the government's indebtedness was 275.46 billion cedis by the end of 2003.

Mr Kenneth Abotsi, President of NUGS, who announced this at a press conference in Accra said NUGS did not intend any malice by her earlier position but had derived the 411.613 billion cedis from budget presentations by the Minister of Finance in his 2001,2002 and 2003 budget statements.

He said the Auditor-General admitted in his report that he could not count as credible the Minister's assertions.

Mr Abotsi, therefore, called on the Minister of Finance to tell Parliament and Ghanaians where he got his figures.

"Based on this, NUGS now stands by the new arrears of 275.46 billion cedis which we must emphasise is still higher than Government's quotation of 208.81 billion cedis.

Mr Abotsi said 66.65 billion cedis being the difference between the Government's quotation and that of the students "can do a lot".

On the issue of high school fees being paid in the country's universities, the NUGS President said reports indicated that there were some cases of about 500 per cent increment in fees.

He said NUGS had not withdrawn its stance of zero-per cent increment and cautioned University Administrators to the anticipated hikes. Mr Abotsi, however, commended the Vice Chancellor and the University Council of Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) for using the consultative approach towards the resolution of the school fees issue.

"It is indeed encouraging to know that students' concern and views were factored into arriving at the final fee schedule". He called on other Vice Chancellors to emulate him.

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