The Minister of Youth and Sports, Mahama Ayariga, yesterday announced to Parliament that the government spent a total of $4,774,519 and GH¢3,242,580 (amounting to GH¢18.5m) on the Black Stars during the just-ended Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Equatorial Guinea, raising concerns from the Minority that the money spent was not subjected to parliamentary approval.
The money excluded the $6 million allegedly spent to fly football fans to watch Ghana matches in the tiny oil rich country.
According to the minister, $3,224,139 was approved for bonuses and honorarium for the players, technical and management members while GH¢3,242,580 and $932,740 were used for the boarding and lodging, air-fare, per diem, friendly matches and other expenses of the team for its training camp in Spain.
The minister however could not reveal how much was spent to airlift Ghanaian supporters and government officials to Equatorial Guinea and the expenses on their lodging and feeding, indicating that the ministry did not have a hand in that.
The ranking member on Youth, Sports and Culture and Member of Parliament for Atwima-Mponua, Isaac Kwame Asiamah, told Parliament that his committee had persisted that the ministry brought its budget for the AFCON for scrutiny but the minister refused to do so after several promises to the committee.
The ranking member told DAILY GUIDE that the expenditure on AFCON tournament lacks transparency and therefore calls for a probe into real details of the spending.
He said the Minority is very much concerned about money spent to ferry supporters to Equatorial Guinea, stressing that 'this is public money and Ghanaians must be told how much was spent on supporters'.
He also said that the minister refused to tell Members of Parliament how much in total accrued from contributions from corporate institutions and individuals towards the Black Stars' preparation for the tournament.
Members on both sides of the House were unanimous in praising the Black Stars for winning silver at the tournament and raising high the flag of Ghana.
The Deputy Minority Leader, Dominic Nitiwul, said for the first time Ghanaians did not hear of any controversy in camp during the tournament.
'Mr Speaker, we must commend the coach and technical handlers for ensuring that there was total discipline in camp,' he said, adding that the ministry must also be commended for paying bonuses on time.
The deputy minority leader was however not happy that despite the name that the national team has made for itself, the local league is not in the best of shape.
According to him, the time has come for the Ghana Football Association to pay more attention to the local league, especially youth and colts football, so that more talents could be unearthed.
The Speaker, Edward Doe Adjaho, was also full of praise for the Black Stars and said that as far as he was concerned the discovery of the tournament was Baba Rahman, who was also his best player at the 2015 AFCON.
Supporters Chop $6m
Meanwhile, areport on starrfmonline.com indicates that the government spent over $6 million to airlift fans to Equatorial Guinea to support the Black Stars.
According to the online report, the initial account that government spent at least $165,000 to fly 250 fans in two chartered flights to the oil rich country to watch the Black Stars' semi-final game was entirely not accurate, since it has now been revealed that government actually spent $1 million on six separate trips for all the six games played by the Black Stars.
Even though Mahama Ayariga had told Starr 103.5FM that his ministry had no involvement whatsoever in flying Ghanaian fans to Equatorial Guinea, checks revealed that the Sports Ministry actually invited the fans to submit their passports for processing before they were forwarded to the office of the Chief of Staff where all the travels were coordinated.
Travel agencies were said to have charged between $650 and $700 for a round trip from Accra to Malabo per fan.
Government, the report said, used the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) as a smokescreen to avoid any public flak.
Some of the supporters flown to Equatorial Guinea to cheer the national team were Ministers of State, officials of the GNPC and football administrators of some clubs in the country.
By Thomas Fosu Jnr